How a false dichotomy of belief and narrative have divided most of humanity into one of two prepackaged identity/ideology tribes.
Years ago I first wrote about how the spectrum of free will to automata in individuals mostly leans towards to latter, which metaphorically corresponds to non-player characters in gaming systems. And then a few years later the term NPC was taken over by alt right bullies online, which was quite ironic. Since there is some reason to believe I may have inadvertently introduced that term to them, I apologized, while not quite abandoning the potency of that metaphor. And since then it has only become more pervasive and entrenched than ever before. And while I am opposed to reductionism, I am not engaging it in it so much as pointing out people doing it to themselves and one another in a destructive fashion at an alarming rate.
From my personal interactions with people from all over the world I would estimate that 90% of individuals fit into one of the two main non-player character types.
GodCon – Theistic or otherwise religious, fundamentalist, conservative, traditional, strongly nationalist, historically puritanical, mainstream right wing politics.
SciLib – Atheist, agnostic, spiritual or progressive religious beliefs; scientifically obedient and naive, identity obsessed, liberal neopuritanism, mainstream left wing politics.
Neither of these NPC types are formed from any central ideological or moral premises; but rather form around superficial associations. Through performative acts of affirmation or negation, they respond to individuals and phenomena stereotypically. Using low information interpretations, they approve and conform or reject and invert. Essentially, they have replaced all substance with symbol, and those symbols come to determine their thoughts and behaviors on just about everything. The result of this semiotic mindfugk is the emergence of two pulsating hives of groupthink and hypocrisy.
For instance, the GodCon will often suggest that they think and act only from doctrine, but seem to do so selectively and with terrible judgements and intolerance. This can be seen in how most Judeo-Christian religions reject homosexuality based on a few obscure passages, while ignoring dozens of other verses which require them to eschew judgment and act lovingly and charitably towards everyone. As affirmation, judging (and often rejecting) homosexuality and those who practice it affirms the piousness of the GodCon, taken as a symbol that they adhere to even the finest print in the Bible. As negation, since homosexuality is widely accepted and often praised among the warring tribe of SciLibs, rejecting it symbolizes their GodCon identity.
SciLibs, on the other hand, have got science all wrong. Science is a method of personal investigation, not an infallible source of ultimate truth. In fact those who first took part in the scientific revolution in the late 17th century would be terrified to see what has become of their method, transformed into exactly the same kind of priesthood that they were working to avoid after centuries of oppressive theocracies. Nullius In Verbim, or ‘take nobodies word for it’, has been replaced with scientifically uneducated people who believe whatever institutional scientists declare. Even more bizarre is their use of pejoratives like ‘science denier’ to decry what they see as heresy from their priesthoods edicts, which is all but identical to dark age politics. And yet, although the SciLib will often speak about civil liberties and bodily autonomy and the rights of the individual, as soon as a group of scientists tell them that they should ignore those virtues in favor of some new scientifically approved sociopolitical protocol they are quick to do so.
I will not belabor the inconsistency and contradiction, but they are overwhelming to those viewing those NPC types from the outside. This would not be such a problem, but since these two stereotypes have become so superficial, hardened and universal we are facing a real crisis. These 90% of people are drowning out all of the truly innovative thinking with their inability to see beyond those two character types. They view anything which does not affirm their identity/ideology as an artifact of the opposing tribe, and automatically reject it. It is becoming impossible for us to grow and evolve because the certainty of those two world views eclipses anything outside of them which could move us toward personal growth and significant substantial progress as a species.
The remaining ten percent are mostly not much better. They mostly belong to a third tribe of obscurantists and contrarians. They are into things like the occult, third party or stereotypically and superficially radical politics, and canonized countercultural figures. This third most prevalent group of NPCs, although endowed with a bit more novelty and variety, are also generally opposed to any sort of innovative ideas, perspectives or approaches that have not already been established as acceptable associations within their tribal identity/ideology.
It appears to me that humanity is two steps forwards and on the cusp of one great leap back. Such total conformity and rejection for non-conformists and their unique ideas creates an ideological stalemate, and when we aren’t moving forward we quickly regress and devolve towards some of our most undignified and dishonorable proclivities. We are ripe for more monolithic and destructive forms of authoritarianism than ever before, thanks to the new tools we have created since the last dark ages. The war between the GodCons and the SciLibs has escalated order so rapidly that a period of entropy is all but inevitable in the near future.
I know this sounds pretty cynical and defeatist, and that my writing has apparently leaned that way over the past few years, and increasingly so recently; however the fact that I am still writing at all indicates some glimmer of hope that enough people can be directed to a middle path before we jump from one ditch to the other. At the very least I hope these writings are preserved long after I am gone so when some future people look back at us and go ‘those people were all completely bonkers’ there will at least be a handful of evidence to the contrary. I’m trying, future people, and so are others. Forgive us that we were so outnumbered, as well as undermined by the unintended consequences of our society and technology. And if not future people, maybe the intelligent beings which will replace us as dominant species.