MMM#7: The Day Shall Come

Looking back on this year, one event that happened to me in the summer sticks out more than any other: I was almost made redundant as I was told that the department I had been working in for a few years was closing down and me and my co-workers would have to compete for other jobs in the building. I managed to get a role in another department as did most of my colleagues but some other people I had worked with and known for a while decided to leave. The news completely shocked us at the time and for a little while I was having to consider finding another job. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, I was fortunate that I could still go in to work and not have
to wear a facemask all day so I had a false sense of security about my job and could not imagine this bombshell hitting me.

It got me thinking about how we are often complacent about the stability and constancy of our lives and also how we assume we are in complete control of our circumstances. I was briefly stripped of that complacency when I discovered that a decision made by people I’ve never met completely upended my life for a couple of months and I didn’t realise that I was so vulnerable.

Of course, a risk of redundancy is nothing compared to other sudden and unexpected news that people are forced to deal with. Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s difficult to imagine how you would react if you were told you had a terminal illness or if a friend or family member died without any warning beforehand.

Of the job vacancies that were available, I ended up getting the one nobody really wanted and so effectively drew the short straw. At the time, I was understandably a little annoyed that I ended up where I had but it was wisely pointed out to me by others that it didn’t have to be forever and I could eventually find somewhere else to go.

I thought about these lines from Bob Dylan’s famous song The Times They Are A-Changin’:

The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past

In other words, fortunes and circumstances change and my unhappiness would not last forever if I just got on with it and was proactive. Fortunately, it turned out my new job was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be and at the moment I’m satisfied with where I am so my initial grumblings were completely unnecessary. This shows that we can experience unexpected good outcomes as well as bad ones. It would still surprise me though if I knew at the beginning of this year where I’d be at the end of it.

Similar to the idea I put forward in another post about comfort being a false god, we should be wary about being too complacent and assume our contentment will last forever. Another mantra of sorts I came up with during this period is ‘the day shall come’. This basically means that there will be a day at some point in the future that will completely change your life in some way, maybe only temporary, maybe permanently, and likely in such a way that you didn’t expect. This can sound ominous and unnerving as it suggests that there will always be bad news around the corner but it could be that things suddenly improve when you are suffering and in a dark place. Thinking about this can help you prepare for possible bad times to come but may also reassure you that the bad times won’t last forever.

Overall, what happened to me was only a minor occurrence even though I didn’t expect it but there will be tougher times that I’ll have to deal with some day. In some ways, I’ve returned to the complacency I had before all of this happened but at least I had the experience to remind me to expect the unexpected.

The day shall come. Watch out for it.

MMM#6: Who’d be a male role model?

Despite my more recent posts, I’ve tried not to respond too much to current events partly because news moves on very quickly and often by the time I’ve written about something, it’s no longer prominent in people’s minds. Inevitably, a hot topic of one week or month will disappear soon afterwards and anybody who discusses it after some time has passed will find there’s a very limited audience for it.

However, I couldn’t resist writing about the controversy over the comments made by the MP Nick Fletcher during a discussion inspired by the recent International Men’s Day. Nick Fletcher pointed out the trend in recent years of notable male characters in films and TV shows such as Doctor Who, Star Wars and Ghostbusters being replaced by women which, in his opinion, left men with only characters like Tommy Shelby from the show Peaky Blinders. Since Tommy Shelby is a criminal figure compared to the more universally good characters like Luke Skywalker, Mr. Fletcher believed men and boys were being exposed to largely negative role models rather than positive ones which he felt influenced them to commit crimes. As you might imagine, this prompted a hostile response in the usual places.

Most of the attention was directed towards the MP’s comments about Doctor Who since this is the most prominent role that was mentioned whereby a woman had taken on a traditionally male character as opposed to replacing an existing male character with a new ’empowered’ female one. The headlines that followed Nick Fletcher’s comments suggested he had said a woman playing the Doctor in Doctor Who had led to young men committing crimes resulting in him releasing a statement clarifying his points. The fact that Mr. Fletcher also made comments that ticked the politically correct boxes such as that it was a “wonderful thing that girls’ football is on TV, it’s terrific that female tennis stars are starting to be paid as much as their male counterparts” wasn’t enough to spare him from the vitriol that he received.

Ever since the actress Jodie Whittaker took on the lead role in Doctor Who, there has been tension amongst fans of the show over its direction and the writers’ insistence on presenting politically correct storylines and content. There was an understandable feeling that a male (albeit alien) character that a lot of people had looked up to for years was being replaced by a female to satisfy certain people’s political agenda. It’s also possible that the decision to present a female Doctor was a way to boost declining viewing figures as there’s only so many times you can watch the Doctor encounter and defeat Daleks and Cybermen. Nevertheless, I’d stopped watching Doctor Who long before Jodie Whittaker got the part so I wasn’t too bothered at the time when she was announced as the new incarnation of the Doctor. I was never as into the show as much as other people were maybe because, growing up, it had disappeared from TV and I was in my early teens when it was revived so I didn’t have the same nostalgia for it. One day I might check out the original series though. However, I’d recommend watching The Glass Blind Spot’s video here in which he investigates the background behind the casting of a female Doctor.

The replacement or marginalisation of male characters in place of female ones is obviously not restricted to shows like Doctor Who as it can be seen in other established franchises like the already mentioned Star Wars as well as James Bond and Mad Max. James Bond seems to be particularly despised by feminists and SJWs because he is not only a male lead character but a rather masculine one as well which is why he has been gradually neutered in the Daniel Craig films.

I’ve always been fascinated by popular culture and its impact and influence on society so the discussion this news prompted drew my attention. A book I’ve mentioned before called Spreading Misandry explores, amongst other things, how men have been portrayed in popular culture in films and TV shows and I hope to write about it more in the future. The book’s authors, Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young, argue – in both this book and their other books about misandry – that men need to have a role in society that has three key components:

  1. It is distinct
  2. It is necessary
  3. It is publicly valued.

Mr. Fletcher in his speech argued that phrases like toxic masculinity vilified men and made them feel worthless which, on top of presenting men and women as interchangeable and disappearing portrayals of positive male figures in the media, shows that societies are not fulfilling these requirements.

One argument against the supposed lack of male role models in society that has being put forward by many people is the reverence that Marcus Rashford, Gareth Southgate and the England football team as a whole have received for their conduct and performance during Euro 2020 and in their political campaigning. While they all may be perfectly nice men, they have been lavished with praise partly because they’ve ‘toed the woke line’, so to speak, on issues such as ‘taking the knee’ for alleged racial injustices. If Gareth Southgate, or any of the England players, came out and said something like ‘toxic masculinity is a stupid phrase’ or ‘Black Lives Matter are an extremist organisation’ then the admiration and goodwill the media has given them would disappear very quickly.

Like many of us, Nick Fletcher was guilty of presenting a valid point in an unclear and clumsy fashion which allowed people to attack or deliberately misunderstand his point of view. Finding characters like Tommy Shelby appealing does not necessarily mean that young men will turn to crime, which, as others have pointed out, is caused by many different factors which are social, cultural and even biological. On the other hand, young men raised in environments where crime is a normal part of life who have no positive role models to aspire to will look at criminal characters as appealing for simply reflecting their own life.

In one chapter of Spreading Misandry, the authors reflect on an incident in the early 1990s whereby the then-Vice President of the United States Dan Quayle criticised the show Murphy Brown for its portrayal of single mothers in a way that he felt undermined fathers, resulting in predictable outrage from the media. Quayle was accused of reading too much into what was just a TV show or not knowing fact from fiction. The authors respond:

“Shows such as Murphy Brown are not the direct cause of single motherhood, either in the ghettoes or anywhere else. Nevertheless, they legitimate what many have already accepted in others or even decided to do for themselves. Few people, if any, have premarital sex after learning about it from sitcoms on television. But many feel no qualms about doing so, because, according to these shows, everyone’s doin’ it. And hey, if everyone’s doin’ it, how can it be wrong? In short, there is nothing trivial about popular culture.”

‘Spreading Misandry’

Young men who only see negative male role models will have similar feelings.

Nick Fletcher is the MP for Don Valley in South Yorkshire and seems to be one of the ‘Red Wall’ Conservative MPs who were elected in traditionally left-leaning Labour seats in the 2019 General Election. Being from Yorkshire myself, I’m pleased that there are MPs around here like Nick Fletcher and the Shipley MP Philip Davies that are willing to speak out on issues affecting men. Hopefully when the next election comes around he’ll be able to keep his seat, if only to spite the people he’s annoyed.

MMM#5: To be anonymous or not to be anonymous?

You may be surprised to learn that ‘Mystery Man’ is not in fact my real name but simply a name I use when I produce online content such as this. With that shocking revelation out of the way, you might wonder why I have bought this up and why I choose not to use my real name.

Recently, a Conservative Member of Parliament named David Amess was tragically murdered in his constituency by, it seems, a British-born Somali called Ali Harbi Ali. This was the second serving MP to be killed in the last 5 years following from the murder of Jo Cox in 2016. While a politician being killed isn’t an unprecedented event, the fact there had been two MPs killed in a short space of time has led to discussion over the volatile atmosphere that has surrounded politics in recent years. Although the divisions in the UK are not as stark as they are in the US, there is a still a growing divide over many social and cultural issues or a ‘cultural war’ which inevitably creates tension and conflict. The suspect being from an immigrant family is alone a point of contention as it raises questions over how much control countries should have over immigration.

How much these tensions contributed to Ali’s motivations for killing David Amess is debatable, but the reaction from the media and MPs has been to focus attention on abuse MPs receive on sites like Twitter and online abuse in general. One MP, the shy, retiring and in no way attention-seeking Jess Phillips (watch this for more context) wrote an article for The Independent where she described how she felt about the killing and how she gets attacked online for some of her views, just about remembering to mention David Amess at the beginning and end of it. Like I wrote in my previous post about Sarah Everard’s death, unfortunate incidents like this are often used to pursue a political agenda.

There have been attempts to apply further controls over online content to crack down on trolling and unpleasant comments targeted at people known to the general public such as politicians, broadcasters, footballers, etc. This includes introducing rules like banning anonymous users (like myself) from social media websites. This is similar to the desire some people have for ‘safe spaces’ where they will be protected from comments they dislike. The show South Park, in its typical satirical way, did a good job of parodying safe spaces in this song a few years ago.

That being said, it is true that people who hide behind a name and image and then proceed to troll and bully other people are in some ways being cowardly, especially if the person who is the target of their trolling uses their real name and presents a photo of themselves.

The internet is an interesting medium as it crosses the line between public and private spaces. We often use it in the comfort of our homes, but can engage with people thousands of miles away with a few keyboard taps and clicks of buttons. This means that how we present ourselves on it and interact with other people can vary widely. The different ways people use the internet include:

  1. People who show their face and real name
  2. People who show their face but don’t give out their name
  3. People who give out their real name but don’t show their face
  4. People who don’t show their face or real name

Obviously, I belong in the last category – I’m naturally a cautious and cagey person so I feel more comfortable using another name and some of the content I am interested in and want to create myself could get me in trouble; anything that attacks the status quo of politics is considered ‘problematic’ even though I have no position of influence or power and I’ve no skeletons in the closet.

Because I choose not to show myself or use my real name, I think the name and image I use online is a kind of ‘glass house’ in that it gives me protection but I can still be accused of hiding behind it if I was to attack somebody else over the internet. At some point in the future, I’m planning on making some more videos on YouTube (for more information see here) and I’m wary of attacking other users on the platform for the reasons I’ve described. Celebrities and famous people are an exception to this, in my opinion, and we should be free to criticise them as they are already judged by the public, anonymous or otherwise.

In terms of banning anonymous users, others have said that doing this wouldn’t stop the prevalence of online abuse anyway and certain vulnerable people, such as whistleblowers and people residing in oppressive countries, would not be able to express their views if they were not anonymous.

One possible way to deal with online abuse from trolls using anonymous accounts is to develop an online culture that favours people who are willing to show their faces and use their real names on websites. You could even offer ‘perks’ of some kind to those who appear as themselves online. This could be just having free rein to say whatever you want. While I’m not in favour of banning or blocking anybody for what they express on the internet, people who don’t use their names should expect to be called out for it if they want to attack others. Conversely, trolls can either be shunned, ridiculed or just not ‘fed’. None of these suggestions requires any new laws being introduced to try to deal with this problem, it only needs websites and individuals to find solutions for themselves.

I’ll continue to remain anonymous – if I didn’t it would take a lot of the ‘mystery’ out of Mystery Man! – but I’m aware that I have to think more carefully what I might say to other people because of this.

MMM#4: Not letting a crisis go to waste

The abduction and murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021 was undoubtedly a tragedy, particularly for her family and friends, but her death has also made an impression on many women across the country who shared their apparent experiences of harassment or abuse at the hands of men. What made this incident particularly noteworthy was the fact that the person charged with the crime was a serving Metropolitan police officer named Wayne Couzens. The police’s reputation, already bruised by accusations of racism following the George Floyd incident in the US, took a further battering following the revelation about the culprit. This was followed by more controversy over the manhandling of several female protestors at a vigil for Ms. Everard in Clapham Common, London shortly after the incident.

In response to the killing of Sarah Everard, it wasn’t surprising that many politicians, journalists and other social commentators came out to speak about violence against women which, like racism or homophobia, was said to be endemic in society. Such was the concern for women’s safety that there was even a suggestion of a ‘curfew for men’ put forward in the House of Lords by Green Party peer Jenny Jones which was even considered by the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford! This however was denounced in many places, prompting her to say it was just a thought experiment.

Similarly, on Twitter the hashtag #notallmen, which pointed out that most men do not commit acts of violence against women, was criticised for somehow taking the focus off women as victims. A forgotten fact about the case, that a woman had also been arrested as an accomplice to Couzens, prompted me, at the time, to comment about this on Twitter with the hashtag #notallwomen. Nevertheless, later on, this woman was released without charge. I’ve tried to find out for certain who this woman was but I couldn’t find any more information. I can only assume it was Wayne Couzens’ wife who, as far as we know, had nothing to do with Sarah Everard’s death. Even so, women who are guilty of a crime rarely get the media attention and condemnation that men do so the #notallmen point is valid.

The recent conviction of Wayne Couzens brought the Sarah Everard case back into public discussion when he was sentenced to a whole life sentence in September. This was predictably followed by further hand-wringing about how awful the world is for women. Another controversy emerged when the Police Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Philip Allott, said that women should be “streetwise” and “educate themselves about powers of arrest” so they know “when they can be arrested”. This was because Couzens had placed Everard under arrest as a means to abduct her and subsequently rape and murder her. Instead of women taking this as advice to avoid such an incident happening again, Philip Allott was accused of ‘victim blaming’ and faced calls to resign, which he eventually did. Perhaps he could have worded it differently, but if women are supposed to be responsible and independent, why was this such as bad thing to suggest?

In an ideal world, no police officer would use their power to harm and exploit another person, but no human being (not even women!) is flawless. It’s an unfortunate fact, but there will always be some men who commit acts of violence against women just like there will always be acts of violence against human beings in general. Therefore, telling women to be cautious and think twice before putting themselves in a vulnerable position is not ‘victim blaming’ but just common sense. Since women have what could be called ‘permanent victim status’ though, any recommendation that they act to avoid putting themselves at risk is met with howls of condemnation.

Many men have been asking women how they can make them feel safer which, while sincere and well intentioned, is another way in which men as a group are forced to denigrate themselves before the ‘victim sex’. Men such as myself can only look on with disappointment. Since a lot of men aren’t willing to stand up for themselves, it’s encouraging that other women in the public sphere such as Davina McCall in a Twitter post and Janet Street-Porter in an article for the Daily Mail criticised the response to the death of Sarah Everard which framed violence against women as if all men are responsible for it.

I don’t always agree with Janet Street-Porter, but I was impressed with what she wrote here. In her article, she notes:

“As with Meghan and Harry (MM: a reference to the then-recent Oprah Winfrey interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle), an utterly unique set of circumstances is in danger of being hijacked and politicised by people with their own axes to grind”

“Young women might complain that they are being blamed for wearing skimpy clothing, for drinking too much, for wearing heels and not sensible trainers. I think that’s an over-reaction. These matters are all personal choices. But don’t demonise men – that won’t solve the problem.”

“the reality is that most men are NOT rapists or murderers or kidnappers and pretending that they are demeans both sexes and will only make women even more terrified.”

Janet Street-Porter

Another woman, a friend of Sarah Everard’s called Helena Edwards, wrote an article on the website spiked arguing that Ms. Everard would not have wanted the response that has occurred over her death:

“my friend’s tragic death has been hijacked. It is not a tribute to her any more, it’s about something else – and I don’t like what it has become.”


“I don’t think Sarah would have wanted them (MM: the men in her life), or men in general, to be smeared with the same brush as her attacker. Most people, and indeed men, are good.”

Helena Edwards

Likewise, the criminology professor Marian Fitzgerald of Kent University pointed out in an article in the Daily Telegraph that men were far more likely to be killed than women, stating:

“Women account for about a third of all murders. Men are far more likely to be murdered. Men are far more likely to be murdered by someone they don’t know. Men are far more likely to be murdered in a public place, and that hasn’t changed. I think I’m entitled to say as a woman, we shouldn’t pander to stereotypes and get hysterical.”

Marian Fitzgerald

The reaction to this event is indicative of the saying: ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ – i.e. using a particular event as a means to score political points and put forward a particular narrative – in this case, male violence against women and misogyny in general. This has been reflected elsewhere in the increasing influence of ‘Black Lives Matter’ following George Floyd’s death in 2020. People often demand that ‘something must be done’ in response to such a crisis despite the fact that, in the case of Sarah Everard’s death, Wayne Couzens has been apprehended and convicted. The ‘something’ that ‘must be done’ in this particular case is the conviction and imprisonment of the murderer which is what has happened. However, what activists mean by ‘something must be done’ goes beyond this and demands instead a more utopian solution to the problem. They would only be truly satisfied if violence against women was completely eradicated.

Much like with George Floyd’s death, the truth doesn’t matter as long as a particular narrative is put forward.

Thoughts on ‘Toxic Femininity’

A blogger named ‘femgoggles’ has been kind enough to read and like some of my blog posts and I’ve tried to return the favour whenever he has posted content I particularly enjoyed. Through his blog I learnt about an article written on the website ‘Aero’ by Freya India Ager which explores the idea of ‘toxic femininity’ as a counterpoint to ‘toxic masculinity’. femgoggles has also written about toxic femininity here and here in response to Ms. Ager’s article and also Jordan Peterson’s view of the subject.

In this post, I mainly want to express where I (respectfully) disagree with Freya Ager’s article and my own thoughts on the idea of toxic femininity.

Since I’m just a random guy writing a blog barely anyone has read, I don’t presume to be any kind of expert in this area so people are free to agree or disagree with me as they wish. I don’t particularly like either ‘toxic masculinity’ or ‘toxic femininity’ as a term but since the former has now passed into common usage, it’s important to discuss what these terms mean and how they affect debates on the differences between men and women.

Overview of the article ‘Social Justice Culture and Toxic Femininity’

The central idea of Freya India Ager’s article is that the current social justice culture that is pervasive in college/university campuses and increasingly across society is directly linked with the predominance of women in the education system and consequently in other institutions. This is because social justice has many features that correlate with “typically female psychopathologies.” Three of the main features described are:

  • ‘Cancelling’ others – i.e. cancel culture
  • Valuing ’emotional reasoning’ and ‘lived experience’ over rational thinking and empiricism.
  • Being overly protective and prioritising safety.

These traits are said to be more predominant in women than in men.

There is certainly a lot of truth in this. ‘Cancel culture’ involves expelling those who are deemed incompatible or threatening to the group whilst avoiding any kind of physical risk or exertion. This reflects women’s tendency to avoid physical conflict and instead engage in ‘reputational destruction’ and social exclusion which is more costly and psychologically upsetting for women than men.

Additionally, the promotion of ‘lived experience’ and personal narratives reflects a female tendency to prioritise feelings and emotions to a greater extent than men. The psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has suggested that women, on average, have an ’empathising brain’ whereas men have, on average, a ‘systematising brain’ which reflects this difference. Ms. Ager notes that the problem with personal narratives is that “faulty conclusions are drawn from subjective experience.”

Finally, over-protectiveness and ‘safetyism’ is rampant across society with the ubiquity of political correctness, ‘trigger warnings’ and the over-emphasis of victimhood and concern for people’s mental health. This, according to Ms. Ager, is reflective of women reacting more strongly to negative experiences and scoring high on personality traits like neuroticism and agreeableness.

Since women are said to be more empathetic than men, it is claimed that these behaviours are an extreme expression of altruism and empathy that has emerged due to women having more power and influence in politics and culture. At these extremes, they do more harm than good and thus can be labelled as ‘toxic femininity’:

“While toxic masculinity may involve caring too little about how others feel, toxic femininity seems to involve caring too much.”

‘Social Justice Culture and Toxic Femininity’ – Freya India Ager

My View

While I agree with Freya India Ager’s observation that social justice culture has many similarities with feminine behaviour, I have some disagreements with what motivates that behaviour and what can be defined as ‘toxic femininity’. It seems to be automatically assumed that social justice warriors are driven chiefly by empathy and compassion as if it is inevitable that if you are high in these traits, you will become a supporter of social justice and political correctness. On the other hand, if you criticise it, then you must be lacking in these traits and must be a less caring person as a result.

Freya Ager ends her article saying:

“Healthy discourse should not put the genders against each other or present women as morally superior, but recognise that we’re all fallible, and need to work together to eradicate all kinds of issues from sexual assault to safetyism.”

‘Social Justice Culture and Toxic Femininity’

This is a fair point, but although she states that we should not “present women as morally superior”, the issues of ‘sexual assault’ and ‘safetyism’ she cites as ones that need addressing by society are presumably meant to represent ‘toxic masculinity’ and ‘toxic femininity’. However, sexual assault is clearly worse than safetyism so it comes across in my mind as a little imbalanced. This is especially true if ‘safetyism’ really comes from a place of compassion. It’s a little like saying “we need to work together to eradicate all kinds of issues from murder to talking about other people behind their backs”. Any moral person would agree that, in this example, one is much worse than the other. In short, toxic masculinity comes across as worse than toxic femininity so women could still be perceived as being morally superior.

Similarly, the quote about toxic femininity involving “caring too much” seems to conclude that the negative outcomes of social justice are simply the result of social justice warriors, and women as a group, being too nice for their own good. “Caring too much” is not always a positive trait, of course, as it can mean being hypersensitive and easily offended. In this context though, it’s presented as a good trait gone wrong. It’s as if the argument is: ‘toxic femininity is bad, but at least it comes from a good place’.

I’m not targeting Ms. Ager directly for this view as she has obviously been influenced by other thinkers like Jordan Peterson who has made similar comments. While I agree with a lot of what Jordan Peterson has to say and have definitely being influenced by him, I don’t completely share his view on this which comes down to other disagreements I have with him, and other psychologists, on differences between men and women.

I should make clear that I absolutely believe that there are biological and psychological differences between men and women and most of the research that has been carried out to show this. When it comes to some areas of psychology, however, I believe that some differences between the sexes are more complicated than they are often presented.

Empathy

If we take empathy as an example, it is widely stated that women are more empathetic than men, reflecting Simon Baron-Cohen’s theories of a distinctive male and female brain. Ager herself writes:

“they’re (MM: women) better at feeling what someone else is going through. For example, when watching others in pain, women show higher activation in a sensory area correlated with pain than men.”

‘Social Justice Culture and Toxic Femininity’

This could be due to women having more pain receptors than men but may also be an evolutionary function relating to caring for infants who can’t communicate what they are feeling verbally. Whatever the reason, empathy is often automatically assumed to be a good thing so there is an assumption that women are generally more selfless and caring than men are.

From my point of view, which is admittedly from a non-psychologist, lay-person perspective, empathy is more complicated than we think. The definition of empathy presented on Wikipedia states that it is “the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.” While Wikipedia isn’t always the most accurate source of information, in this case this is a suitable summary of how the word is widely understood.

However, if the general idea of empathy is to put yourself in another’s position, does this necessarily mean you need to ‘feel’ what someone else is feeling? Consider that you can ‘think’ about what someone else is going through as well as ‘feel’ it. In order to see someone else’s perspective, you have to detach yourself from your own thoughts and feelings and try to take on someone else’s. This is different to “feeling what someone is going through”. Moreover, the Wikipedia article describes different types of empathy such as cognitive, emotional and spiritual. This suggests that empathy is not wholly tied to feelings.

Thus, even though men don’t feel the pain – or other emotions – of others as readily as women seem to do, they can certainly imagine the experience of being in pain in their mind. This could be the difference between ‘feeling’ and ‘thinking about feeling’. After all, the common phrase to express understanding is ‘I know how you feel’, not ‘I feel how you feel’.

Furthermore, women may very well be better at “feeling what someone else is going through” but does this mean they will inevitably be compassionate and have solidarity with the person they are empathising with? Or could this type of empathy be simply an ability to ‘detect feelings by feeling them ourselves.’ This can definitely lead to sympathy (note that sympathy is a different word) towards a person who is suffering, but could it not also generate an indifferent or, even worse, a malevolent response from other women?

Our ability to understand other people has dark underpinnings as well as virtuous ones. Jordan Peterson has noted, when talking about the story of Adam and Eve, the significance of their covering themselves up after they have eaten the fruit in the Garden of Eden and obtained the knowledge of good and evil. Through this newfound knowledge, they become aware of their nakedness and vulnerability. The ability to feel vulnerable, such as the potential to experience pain, means also recognising the vulnerability of other people. As Peterson puts it: “If I know what hurts me, I know what hurts you too.” In essence, people are aware of suffering which makes them capable of inflicting suffering onto others. In terms of empathy, the ability to feel the pain of others could lead to a positive reaction – i. e. wanting to help and alleviate the pain – but also a negative one – wanting to cause or increase the pain, depending on the individual.

It’s possible that men and women simply have a different way of empathising, although this is just speculation on my part. The important point here though is that empathy is not necessarily just about feelings and compassion; it may primarily be a means to ‘read’ other people by how they feel and then act on it.

Political correctness as a form of compassion and agreeableness

Freya Ager also writes that ‘excessive political correctness’ is a result of the personality trait agreeableness:

“Political correctness is best predicted by the trait agreeableness. In an influential 2003 study, in which over 23,000 men and women from 26 cultures completed personality questionnaires, women scored consistently higher in the traits agreeableness and openness to feelings, whereas men scored higher in assertiveness and openness to ideas.”

‘Social Justice Culture and Toxic Femininity’

Again, whilst speaking as a non-psychologist, I have some disagreements with the conclusions drawn here, which is largely due to my reservations about personality tests in general. It would take me too long here to explain in detail my mixed feelings on personality tests such as the ‘Big 5’ or ‘five factor model’ but I may do one day in the future. I’ll just say that, while there are obviously personality differences between individuals and between men and women, I also believe personality tests are highly subjective which skews their results.

It’s important to note that the argument that ‘political correctness is just compassion’ is also put forward by proponents of it. The same can be said for people who identify as ‘woke’. Like I mentioned before, one of the assumptions made through this argument is that people who oppose political correctness and ‘wokeness’ are therefore lacking in compassion for supposedly disadvantaged groups. In reality, critics of political correctness can be sympathetic and empathetic to less fortunate groups but simply disagree with how to help them.

Also, the idea that certain racial groups, or women and LGBT people, are helpless and inevitably disadvantaged could be said to be very demeaning and patronising. Similarly, the people who support political correctness could be viewed as arrogant and self-satisfied for believing it is necessary for them to protect and rescue groups they’ve designated as disadvantaged or oppressed. Bernard Chapin, on his YouTube channel, used to sometimes do an impression of social justice warriors by patting himself on the back and saying: “I care! You don’t! I care! You don’t!”

It’s not very surprising when we consider this to find that people who support political correctness score themselves highly on wanting to help people and being caring – traits associated with agreeableness. There’s a big difference though with ‘thinking’ you’re agreeable and ‘being’ agreeable. In much the same way, the fact that some people believe themselves to be intelligent doesn’t mean they actually ARE intelligent.

The academics Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young note in their excellent book Spreading Misandry the tendency to conflate political correctness with compassion or kindness but argue against this assumption; comparing it negatively against other qualities like courtesy and etiquette:

“Far from fostering genuine courtesy, it (MM: political correctness) actually fosters nothing more than outward signs of respect for those deemed on political grounds to be worthy of them. Not all human beings, in other words, are deemed worthy. The term “political correctness” has thus come to imply not only smugness and self-righteousness but hypocrisy as well. Unlike etiquette, which fosters harmony, political correctness fosters disharmony and even polarisation.”

‘Spreading Misandry’ by Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young

Political correctness is also useful in smearing certain groups as bad – the most obvious being heterosexual ‘cisgender’ white men. Despite their overwhelming compassion, it appears supporters of PC don’t extend it to this particular group of people.

Nathanson and Young also note:

“What all this amounts to is a very convenient way of silencing potential enemies. Some people are given permission to say anything they want about their real or perceived enemies; the latter are not given permission to respond in kind or even to defend themselves.”

‘Spreading Misandry’

This suggests there’s a controlling and belligerent aspect to PC, but this doesn’t fit in with the conventional view of femininity and social justice advocates.

This hostility towards ‘privileged’ groups like straight white men nonetheless has been argued to come from a place of compassion by Jordan Peterson who has labelled it ‘maternal outrage’. The idea here is that this anger towards the designated ‘oppressor’ groups is equivalent to the classic idea of the ‘mother bear protecting her cubs from predators’. There could be something to this but it’s worth noticing how behaviour deemed as negative can be viewed as actually positive and compassionate depending on how you perceive it. In other words, if you view political correctness as compassion taken too far, any examples of it can be labelled as compassion even though it doesn’t appear that way. In this way, you can reason that any disagreeable acts by agreeable people are actually agreeable. Therefore, political correctness can be justified.

‘Safetyism’

As pointed out in the article, the focus on personal safety and avoiding harm as much as possible – safetyism – in social justice culture is a clear example of its similarities to femininity. One of the most distinctive differences between men and women is their contrasting attitudes to risk taking, with men being more willing to take risks and women being more risk averse. This can also be seen in how mothers and fathers relate to their children. Typically, fathers take a more encouraging and risk-taking approach to their children whilst mothers take a more comforting and risk averse approach. Because of this, the rise of safetyism can be connected to greater female participation in society.

Nevertheless, like political correctness, the emphasis on safety above other considerations is often perceived to come from a place of caring and compassion when, in actuality, it may be motivated by a variety of emotions.

We can relate the motivations of safetyism to what Nathanson and Young outlined in their analysis of political correctness because both can be presented as largely driven by compassion and empathy to certain groups that are labelled ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘oppressed’. However, if you happen to belong to a group considered ‘privileged’, then you may not be considered worthy of social justice warriors’ concerns for safety and protection. To put it another way, if you are ‘in with the in-crowd’ – i.e. you are a woman, or gay/lesbian, or trans, or a racial minority, then you are viewed as needing protection from harm and criticism. Conversely, if you’re not, then you’re on your own. We could call this ‘selective safetyism’.

Speaking as somebody who has had problems with anxiety and risk-aversion in the past, I also think there’s a misconception about the psychology of risk-taking and risk-averse people. There’s an idea that risk aversion is related to a lack of self confidence, self-belief or a small ego compared to risk-takers who can be characterised as being very confident or having a big ego. This can certainly be true but risk aversion can also be motivated by having a big ego – or at least a fragile one. This is because taking risks does not just expose somebody to life-threatening dangers, but smaller dangers that can ‘bruise’ somebody’s ego and self-image.

For instance, somebody may be wary of saying or doing something that might make them appear stupid or incompetent. This is a fear that can be shared by someone who is shy and timid but also someone who can’t bare people disagreeing with them or criticising them. The person who can’t handle the risk of being proven wrong might find safetyism appealing to cushion their large, unhealthy egos. Risk-takers, alternatively, may have a healthy ego and be willing to be proven wrong.

In my own case, my risk-aversion stemmed from both a lack of self-confidence but also not wanting to ‘look bad’ and be looked down on by others. This isn’t always a bad thing to be concerned about, but it does show that self-interest is a factor in risk-aversion and safetyism.

Social justice as a product of more female influence

Elsewhere, the article argues that social justice culture is a result of greater female influence in politics and society, again echoing some of Dr, Peterson’s ideas. Peterson has argued that men prioritise ‘production’ whereas women prioritise ‘distribution’ as a result of their different personality traits. Women’s increased involvement in politics is said to have influenced social justice because of this. This is plausible, but again I have some disagreements here.

This argument seems to imply that the only genuine power that is possible is direct power. In other words, since men have predominantly wielded power throughout history, only ‘masculine’ versions of it, whatever that may mean, have proliferated. This in itself has shades of feminist thinking in it. Effectively, women have never had direct power, at least in relation to men, therefore they have never had any means to influence society as a whole. This ignores other forms of power like the ability to influence others or ‘indirect power’. A classic example would be Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play. Therefore, we cannot assume that women have never had any power just because they’ve rarely been in positions to directly wield it like men have.

If we look at any cult or dictatorship that existed in the past, even though they were almost always headed by men, both men and women were equally swayed by their influence and often their destructive and damaging tendencies. Whatever social justice tendencies women have, it clearly wasn’t enough to topple these systems, so it’s important to draw a distinction between ‘feminine thinking’ and ‘feminist thinking’.

This raises some interesting questions: if feminism had never occurred, would women have gradually moved into the public sphere anyway? The advance of technology meant that women were no longer as disadvantaged physically from participating in outside endeavours as they once were and breakthroughs in medical science meant that dangers that mostly affected women like death in childbirth and unwanted pregnancies were alleviated. It’s no surprise, then, that women began to advance outside their traditional environment of the home and into greater society. This had been occurring more strongly during the 19th Century onwards before feminism, as we understand it today, had taken hold. Women could have done all this without assuming they were victims and men had historically oppressed them. Of course, feminist thinking advanced whilst this was going on so you could argue that you can’t have one phenomenon without the other.

To reiterate, Freya Ager does make a valid point that social justice culture has feminine traits, but this has been enhanced by turning women in a victim group in need of social justice. In essence, social justice and femininity, toxic or otherwise, have fed into each other so it’s no surprise that social justice culture has developed in this way.

Does ‘toxic’ mean ‘too much’ or just ‘bad’?

At the heart of Freya Ager’s article is the idea that ‘toxic femininity’ means ‘too much femininity’ which is presumed to mean ‘excessive empathy and compassion.’ Essentially, femininity is naturally good but you can always have too much of a good thing. Contrast this with ‘toxic masculinity’ which seems to mean ‘bad masculinity’ as it is associated with too much aggression and violence which, understandably, can be considered bad male qualities. Notice how there’s never an assumption that toxic masculinity could mean ‘too much of a good thing’. A possible positive example of ‘toxic masculinity’ would be a man who works himself so hard that he becomes exhausted and physically unwell which is something that I’ve observed myself. Another example would be a man who risks his own life to try and save someone else’s even though the act is futile.

Something that I’ve noticed is how people assume ‘too much masculinity’ is inevitably a bad thing. Words like ‘hypermasculinity’ or ‘ultramasculinity’ are used to conjure up images of violence, exploitation and destruction. In this way, ‘toxic’ can mean both ‘too much’ and ‘bad’. These terms seem to imply the idea: masculinity is bad – taken too far it’s even worse! Contrastingly, phrases like ‘tonic masculinity’ and ‘healthy masculinity’ suggest that masculinity is only good if it’s presented in a certain way. The word ‘masculinity’ on its own now has so many negative connotations that it has to be prefixed by positive words to soften some of its supposed ‘badness’ and you can no longer assume that there is anything positive about masculinity without them.

This reminds me of a sketch by the comedians Mitchell and Webb whereby Jesus is telling the story of the Good Samaritan to a group of his followers and stresses the goodness of the Samaritan, as if this is uncharacteristic of Samaritans as a group: “He was a GOOD Samaritan, if you can imagine such a thing.” One of his followers takes exception to this and argues that Jesus is reflecting a cliché that “all Samaritans are wankers” and “implying the fact that he was good is worth a story in itself.” I know that isn’t the point of the actual story, and the sketch could also be a parody of people who are easily ‘triggered’ by such things, but to me it also shows how some people view masculinity.

So what is ‘toxic femininity’?

If we have to use the term ‘toxic femininity’ then I think it should be the female equivalent of ‘toxic masculinity’ in that it should be defined as feminine behaviour that society considers to be bad and which should be discouraged. Defining the term as something like ‘excessive compassion and empathy’ simply presents femininity as universally good and selfless. It’s true that anything good taken too far can be a bad thing but that’s not the same as identifying something as distinctively bad.

Here are some examples of what I would consider to be toxic femininity:

  • Falsely accusing a man of rape, sexual harassment and/or misogyny/sexism
  • Lying to a man by telling him that he’s the father of her child and expecting payments from him when he isn’t (paternity fraud)
  • Denying a man access to his children even though he is not a danger to them
  • Playing the victim and not taking responsibility for her actions
  • Engaging in psychological and physical violence
  • Being vindictive and duplicitious
  • Highly manipulative
  • Using sex and appearance as a way to exploit men

No doubt a woman would complain about the examples I’ve presented here and say: “men do them too!” For some of these, she would be right, but the point is that there are behaviours that women need to be aware of as a group that should be discouraged in the same way that men need to be aware of their own flaws too. Pretending they don’t exist doesn’t do anybody any favours.

Conclusion

Ultimately, I was interested in what Ms. Ager had written and was glad the article came to my attention (thanks femgoggles) but my understanding of toxic femininity and the psychology of social justice and political correctness differs from hers. I hope I’ve expressed my own position clearly here.

R.I.P. Vention MGTOW

I was very saddened to hear that the YouTuber Vention MGTOW died from cancer on 25th September 2021. I subscribed to his channel a few years ago as he was friendly with some other YouTube channels I followed that primarily explored men issues and identity politics. As his name suggested, Vention identified with ‘Men Going Their Own Way’ and most of his videos were focussed on MGTOW but also his life as a mechanic and his other interests like permaculture. MGTOWs are men who choose to avoid marriage and relationships due to society’s bias towards women in countries like the US and UK. Vention always ended his videos saying: “Don’t get married!”

I don’t identify as ‘MGTOW’ myself as part of me does want to get married and have children even though I’m aware of the dangers that can befall men who are in that situation. As a Millennial, I’m at the age when most men, nowadays at least, tend to marry and start a family so I do think about it from time to time. Nevertheless, being a bit of a loner, I don’t think I’d be too upset if I ended up being single and childless when I’m older as I think I would still be able to lead a productive and fulfilling life. I’d regret not being a father more than I would regret not being a husband in any case! However, I have no problem with other men who choose to go their own way so I consider myself to be ‘MGTOW friendly’ or a ‘potential MGTOW’. At the same time, I have no issue with men who are married, if they are happily married at least.

MGTOWs, which I explored a little bit in this previous post, are controversial not just to feminists but also to a lot of anti-feminists for a number of reasons. For feminists, MGTOWs are often accused of being angry and bitter misogynists who may want to oppress and harm women in some way. Alternatively, anti-feminists sometimes accuse MGTOWs of being weak and immature for, in their mind, giving up their purpose as men in society in order to lead a selfish, hedonistic and unproductive lifestyle. Vention didn’t fit into either stereotype of a MGTOW as he came across as a nice, cheerful guy who worked hard and was productive. Prior to his cancer, he had been working and saving money in order to retire early and live off his earnings. It shows you how cruel life can be that he only got to enjoy his retirement for a short time. Vention’s own reasons for never marrying was, I believe, due to observing when he was younger what happened to other men in his life going through divorce and also his own family background. In a sense, he was ‘MGTOW’ before the word was invented.

Vention had stage 4 colon cancer for a couple of years and continued making videos up to his final days when he uploaded his last video lying in a hospital bed. Whether it was the medication he was on or just his own personality, Vention frankly stated to his YouTube audience that he was about to die. I found this quite upsetting as it was hard to see him weakened and debilitated by his illness from the man he once was. As an aside, it’s strange how interconnected we all are now that we can be a witness to someone we vaguely know thousands of miles away at the very end of their life. Vention at least knew there were people out there who cared about him.

Instead of undergoing chemotherapy and operations, Vention chose to undergo fasting and alternative methods to try and treat his cancer. I once commented on one of his videos that I didn’t know if he was doing the right thing but that I admired his courage. He replied back saying that he believed his chances of surviving stage 4 cancer were the same regardless of if he had the standard treatment or not so he wasn’t doing anything courageous. I don’t know enough about cancer treatment to comment on if he would have lived longer had he gone through the conventional route but I still admired the stoic way he dealt with his situation. He could have easily despaired at what had happened to him.

There’s a scene in an early episode of the TV series Breaking Bad where Walter and his family are discussing whether he should receive treatment for his cancer. His sister-in-law Marie says he should do whatever he wants to do much to the shock of her sister and Walter’s wife Skyler. Marie says at the hospital she works in she sees cancer patients who are completely miserable and that some people don’t want to end their life being “picked at by doctors.” Walter also states he doesn’t want to spend his final days too weak to do anything because of cancer treatment although, in the end, he decides to go through with it. I imagine Vention had the same thought process with his illness. Again, I’m no expert on cancer and I believe sufferers should decide for themselves how they want to deal with it.

I’ll end this post with a link to one of Vention’s videos. Now that he’s gone I don’t know what will happen to his channel but I’ll link to one anyway. Instead of focussing on Vention’s cancer battle and his final videos, I want to show a video that I think shows Vention as he was and which resonated with me personally.

In this video, Vention talks about keeping a journal which I try to do as well. Vention said the purpose of his journal was to write to his future self and how, when you’re young, you don’t know who you’re going to become in the future. He noted that, now that he’s older, he doesn’t write as much because he has become the person he will be until he dies. Being younger than him, this felt like I was given a profound perspective from an older relative. In my journal I think I’m writing to the person I will become as well. It’s a little sad when he talks about his plans for the future now we know what happened to him but Vention kept smiling until the end.

You can watch the video here.

Rest in peace Vention.

MMM#3: Can you be phone-free?

If you’ve read my most recent posts, you will have noticed that I’ve been thinking a lot about technology and how it affects our lives. The most prominent piece of technology that many people possess is the mobile phone as it is either close by or on our person whether we are inside or outside our homes. It might even be in your pocket or within eyeshot as you read this.

The advantages to this are obviously the conveniences that a phone can provide. If you are in some kind of trouble, or lost, or need to be reached for whatever reason you can just call someone or somebody can call you. With a smart phone, you can look on the internet if you need to find something, learn about something or if you need to call somebody.

On the other hand, the disadvantages of always having a mobile phone at hand include being over-reliant on them and being consumed and distracted by their abundant features. This is particularly true with smart phones as access to the internet and apps are incredibly affective at drawing our attention. I was once so fixated on something that I was looking at on my phone that I didn’t realise someone was trying to talk to me. Although they were more amused than annoyed, I didn’t like the fact that I was so distracted and not focussed on my surroundings. Almost everybody looks stupid when they’re looking down and staring at a screen!

I’ve heard some people bemoaning the fact that they can always be reached and the lack of privacy that always having a phone at hand can bring with it. It doesn’t surprise me that some people have opted to have a so-called ‘dumb phone’ – i.e. a more traditional mobile phone that lacks the many entrancing features of a smart phone – as a way to avoid some of the downsides of new phones.

At the place I work, I often see everyone else staring at their phone screens during their breaks possibly looking at the news, websites or just going through their messages. There’s nothing wrong with doing this in moderation but I do wonder if it is detrimental if it’s done all the time.

Like I wrote in my other post about not worshipping comfort, being dependent on our phones
means that we can struggle to function without them. Always having your phone with you is another form of comfort which can inhibit your independence. To try and lessen my own dependence on my phone, I’ve started to be ‘phone-free’ by leaving it in my coat or locker on my breaks at work just to be away from it for half an hour or an hour. This is also the furthest distance I can get from it. It means I can at least attempt to find other ways to occupy my time and be ‘off-grid’ even just for a little bit.

The point isn’t to renounce phones entirely but just to manage how much time you spend on it. What initially put me off leaving my phone where I couldn’t immediately reach it was the risk of getting a missed call. I remember going out one time without taking my phone with me and then coming back to find a number of missed calls from my parents who were worried because I wasn’t answering their calls! I had only been out for a brief period but after that I took my phone everywhere with me. However, if people know your work times, I think you can afford to be phone-free for a little bit without much trouble.

There’s no denying that smart phones are an amazing technological achievement but we should appreciate the benefits and drawbacks of them more than we do. As U2 might have sung, I can’t live with or without my phone but I can least try to. I suggest you do as well.

MMM#2: Twitter is what you make of it

Although I have a Twitter account – if you’re interested, you can view it here – I try not to go on it that much and I’ve found that I don’t really miss it much when I avoid looking at it. Twitter can be interesting when there’s a big event happening such as the recent debacle in Afghanistan or the US election in 2020 and the fallout from that. You can learn a lot of things if you follow people from a variety of professions and backgrounds. Most of the people I follow are from the right-leaning or ‘anti-woke’ perspective but I also try to follow people who have the opposite point of view as it makes it more interesting.

I also have what could be called a ‘normie’ Twitter account which I keep non-political and just follow people I’m interested in outside of politics. I’ve discovered, predictably you might say, that a lot of those people have the fashionable ‘woke’ viewpoints so I’ve ended up unintentionally having two Twitter accounts reacting to events from opposite sides of the political spectrum. This was particularly fascinating during the end of last year with the controversial election loss of Donald Trump to Joe Biden. One Twitter was furious at what had happened and the other was elated at the end of Trump’s presidency. The latter is curiously silent about Joe Biden’s actions in Afghanistan though! It’s sort of like having the ability to occupy two parallel universes that experience the exact same events.

I’ve tried not to comment too much on there as you can get sucked into having debates and arguments with people who in most cases are not worth debating with. A lot of people have accused Twitter and other social media sites of causing the breakdown in nuance and civilised debate in political discourse as well as the increasing polarisation.

There is some truth in this but people also have the choice whether or not they want to engage with it in the way that they do. I’ve been tempted to comment on someone else’s tweet on many occasions but then decided against it to avoid getting into a conversation I didn’t want to have. Some things are better being done face to face or, alternatively, on a video streaming site like YouTube where you can communicate with the person directly.

Recently, I’ve taken to looking at my Twitter account on a day to day basis but I’m trying to avoid doing this so that I don’t get too obsessed with politics. On my other account, I’ve noticed that people use Twitter for things other than political discourse in ways that don’t make you angry at the state of the world – for a brief time at least – and show that there is a life outside wokeness and the ‘culture war’.

It is hard to avoid it all of course when politics is creeping into every other aspect of our life even when we want to escape from it. Maybe the answer is to just not have a Twitter account but if you do happen to have one that you use for political engagement, I recommend you use another one for non-political purposes. If nothing else, it will remind you that there are other things in life to occupy your time with.

Twitter, like life, is what you make of it.

MMM#1: Comfort is a false God

Possibly, like me, you’re reading this in a warm, safe place and are free from any kind of danger or hazardous conditions. If so, you’re probably fortunate to live in a society that is safe and secure where you don’t have to worry about finding enough food, warmth or shelter. This is a very good thing as it enables us to do things other than fight and struggle for our survival.

However, like many things, this comes with its drawbacks. The availability of food has led to most wealthy nations having problems with obesity and the development of highly sophisticated technology such as streaming services, the internet and video games has contributed to a decline in many people’s attention spans and participation in physical activity.

The portrayal of humans as fat, round blobs that move around on levitating seats and are entirely dependent on machines in the Pixar film WALL-E could be an accurate prediction of the future of humanity.

This is probably one key factor in why the quality of men’s sperm count has declined over the past few decades. These developments may also explain our obsession with safety which has contributed to the hypersensitivity that is prevalent in political debates and the ubiquity of political correctness. Direct conflict is avoided in favour of indirect conflict and the constant policing of language.

The connection between our modern, technological age and the so-called ‘crisis of masculinity’ has been explored regularly in the past few decades such as the book and film Fight Club and Jack Donovan’s description of the ‘bonobo masturbation society’ in his book The Way of Men. In The Ape That Understood the Universe, Steve Stewart-Williams also mentions how more dependent we’re becoming on technology and how it’s made us much more weaker than other animals like chimpanzees.

How do men thrive in a society that no longer values distinctive male qualities like physical strength? In the past, the comforts that were available to most people were often only possible if humans, usually male humans, used their physicality to provide them. But technology has taken the place in being the source of most of our comforts, so the question remains: how do we find value in human physicality?

One answer is to not place too much importance on comfort and being comfortable. Things may seem good now but catastrophe can strike and societies can suddenly collapse. The Covid-19 pandemic, whether or not you think that the response to it has been largely an overreaction, shows how something out of nowhere can derail societies and undermine the comfort and safety people take for granted. Being comfortable has its benefits but it can also make us unprepared and unhealthy not just physically but mentality. You can be a fat blob like in WALL-E or asleep and oblivious to reality like in The Matrix. Stepping out of your comfort zone helps you to prepare for potential dangers in the future.

Some things that may help you from getting too comfortable include:

  • Exposing yourself to cold water by having cold showers/baths rather than hot ones.
  • Walking/cycling to get around – instead of or alongside – driving.
  • Fasting on occasion to decrease over-dependency on food.
  • Exercising to maintain and improve physical health.

Don’t get me wrong, I prefer to live in a society where I can be comfortable to a certain degree. Nobody, if given the choice, would choose to live in a cave wearing minimal clothing and with no source of warmth or other resources necessary for survival. I’m just as guilty as a lot of other people in eating food that I know isn’t good for me in the long run and spending too much time watching TV or playing video games. Time I spent being comfortable could have been spent doing other more productive things.

What I’ve suggested isn’t dangerous or heroic and might seem mundane but I believe it’s helped me at least to shake off being too complacent and docile. I’ve fallen back into getting too comfortable from time to time but I’ve been trying to practice what I’m preaching here more often as well.

I recommend that others do the same and don’t worship comfort too much.

Coming soon…

It’s coming up to two years since I started this blog and in that time I’ve made just over 10 blog posts! A remarkable achievement I think you will agree.

I have wanted to write more on here but I’ve had issues with finding the time to write and also trying not to write too much on an individual post – something I think I’ve failed here most of the time!

I have also wanted to try and make videos to complement this blog but at the moment I probably won’t have any video content to upload any time soon.

To try and give this blog a few more signs of life, however, I thought I’d try and upload more often by writing shorter posts which I’m calling my ‘mini Mystery Man’ (MMM) posts. These will be less political and more to do with whatever’s on my mind. Ideally, I’d like there to be, at most, a couple of weeks between each post but I don’t want to make any promises.

Since I don’t have an audience to speak of, I can’t imagine anybody will be really bothered regardless of what I do although I do like doing this even if nobody else does!

More posts coming soon.