September 20, 2022   

Calling Bullshit

I first came across the English word “bullshit” in high school. I was confused; what does a bull have to do with it? According to Wikipedia, nobody knows for sure, but it provides this useful definition:

“Within organizations bullshitting is considered to be a social practice that people engage with to become part of a speech community, to get things done in that community, and to reinforce their identity.”

Ultimately everything in life is bullshit, but some specimens are more sophisticated than others, and the meaning of life for me is to climb this ladder of sophistication, to endlessly expose more sophisticated bullshit, and move on.

Bullshit is different from lying in that it strengthens your social network and increases your chance of survival. Lying doesn’t.

But you sacrifice meaning for survival. Living a life concerned only with physical survival leaves you feeling empty.

The drive to expose bullshit is self-destructive because you get thrown out of the “speech community.” This is why Freud called it “death drive.” The instinct serves life, and the drive serves death because the latter aims beyond physical existence.

When you are young, many things appear meaningful. You pick one and dig deeper; you discover it’s bullshit. You pick another, and it, too, turns out to be bullshit. As you get older, finding meaningful things becomes increasingly harder. You’d rather drink nothing than drink a glass of mediocre wine.

But, this is not a pursuit of superiority. You call bullshit because you give a shit, because you steadfastly stand up for what is meaningful to you. You are not trying to prove anything to anyone. In fact, this pursuit can ultimately leave you alone in the world because you’d rather talk to nobody than bullshit with anyone.

But, it’s not like you have a choice. If you have this death drive, you can’t help it. Part of you wishes you were blind to bullshit because it’s scary to call bullshit.

Because everything is bullshit, you achieve nothing in the end. You are not getting closer to anything. Calling bullshit doesn’t reveal any truth. You are just driving for the view. So why bother? I wish I had the answer.