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August 09, 2018

An Observance of the Decay of Learned Restraint

A friend put up a picture of his childhood home on Twitter. It's apparently a big, nice house, so he was immediately assailed as flaunting his "privilege." A lot of freaking out and shrieking by the typical emotional incontinents.

He took it down. What a cuck.

I advised him to put it back up.

It is normal for people to have a little resentment at those who have/had more than they do/did. Everyone feels this.

Envy and jealousy are routine, even daily foibles.

What is abnormal -- or rather, has become the New, Awful Normal -- is for them to publicly shriek about it.

To, as David Niven once wryly put it, put their shortcomings on public exhibition.

We used to learn, as children, to restrain our pettier, nastier, more childlike emotional outbursts.

Our parents taught us to count to ten before blowing up in anger.

Our parents and our friends taught us that to display such base emotions as seething envy was uncool and childlike.

We wanted to grow up, we wanted to be seen as grown up, and so we tried to act like grown-ups. So we learned, either because of a parent's soft (but stinging) chiding, or a friend's rather less gentle insulting us as a spaz or baby, to restrain exhibitions of such childish butthurts.

We also learned -- or were taught, sometimes with some real social cruelty or an actual beat-down -- that if we had a problem, we should sort it out ourselves or just find a way to work around it, instead of running to the nearest authority figure to squeal on our playmates.

On that last point, men especially were taught to ask themselves, "Am I acting like a man here, or a whiny child in constant need of his Mommy's interventions?"

I'm sure women similarly asked themselves about their own behavior, probably thinking more in terms of propriety and maturity than about masculinity, but the effect was the same.

The rule used to be, "If you lose your shit, you've lost the game."

Now it's the exact opposite: "If you lose your shit and throw a tantrum, you win. Always. Because obviously the person who takes offense and flies into rage over nothing must have moral superiority over people who are calm and rational."

The old rules are gone now, thanks to the juvenilizing effect of social media -- where all 55 year old men pretend to be 13 year old girls. And not just for some perverted sexual goal, but because acting like a 13 year old mean girl is now just sort of how 55 year old men, who should know a damn lot better, have decided it's appropriate to present themselves.

It's also due, of course, to relentless conditioning bu the left that there is no such thing as an immature emotional outburst that should be restrained, or a minor psychic boo-boo that should be ignored and toughed out.

The left has taught society that internal emotional restraint is not to be valorized any longer; not to be treated as a personal characteristic to be valued and further trained.

The left teaches exactly the opposite -- that to restrain one's pettier, immediate emotional outbursts is to counterfeit one's True Self, a true self which is apparently a 10 year old with developmental disorders, and that what everyone must do to be #Woke is not merely permit oneself to descend into hysterics but to actively seek out reasons to descend into hysterics as frequently and as derangedly as possible.

This is all just to repeat the central insight of this still-bracing piece from Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, The Coddling of the American Mind. In this article -- sorry that I've repeated its premise so many times -- Lukianoff discusses a previous phobia he had, and how he went through the process of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to no longer be phobic about it. Basically, CBT taught him to deliberately expose him to small doses of the thing he feared and keep telling himself There's nothing to fear here, get over it until his sensitivity to that trigger went away.

Lukianoff realized that what is going on on college campuses now -- and I would say, in society generally -- is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but one pointed in the precise opposite direction. Rather than teaching people to not sweat minor things that might "trigger" them, to desensitize them to those triggers, this malignant version of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches people to panic, throw conniptions, fly into hysterics, and descend into lower-animal rage over minor things.

Rather than training people to de-sensitize them to petty bothers, this malignant version of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy trains them to be hyper-sensitive to trivial things.

It's not merely that we are no longer valorizing -- promoting; holding up as an ideal to aspire to -- the age-old and well-proven ethic of emotional restraint and mastery of self.

We're now actively valorizing, promoting, and inculcating the exact opposite -- emotional promiscuity and performative hysteria.

And just a point here: Whenever I'm with people and we talk about such things, the word "Millennials" comes up, and people talk about how these Millennials haven't learned to be tough and restrained as we did growing up.

And there's a point there, sure, but I always want to say: Yeah, but the 55-year-old drama addicts are doing this same bullshit and they are plainly not Millennials, though they seem to like pretending to be on Twitter.

So yeah, knock the Millennials for having grown up, sadly, in an environment that did not valorize emotional forbearance but rather actively taught them emotional incontinence.

But do note: That was inflicted on them.

What about the 55-year-old drama queens who are trying to pass themselves off as Young People by acting the same way?

They were in fact taught by their parents, their same-age cohort, the people valorized in the media as role models that emotional reserve was cool, mature, and (for the menfolk) a foundational virtue of masculinity -- and yet they've abandoned all that.

They did learn these things at a younger (much younger -- much, much younger) age.

But they have chosen to unlearn them, apparently just to seem With-It with the Twitter Kidz, and maybe for the thrill of Feeling Young Again -- at least, while pretending to be a tween on Twitter.

Knock the Millennials to your heart's content, but who's really the group more worthy of mockery and scorn here? The young and irresponsible, or the old and irresponsible?

I say it's the older people who should be setting an example of how adults act but have decided to try to out-teenage the teenagers to get a few more retweets.

Anyway, I hope my friend puts the picture of his childhood home back up. It will be a bit of useful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for the decrepit, aging infants most in need of such an astringent. It may lead them back down the path of wisdom they long ago departed, and on the path of re-learning that just because something causes them a boo-boo or butt-rash there's no reason to crying to mommy and daddy about it or to shriek hysterically for one's fwiendz to come help yell at the Bad Man.

As the Fool said to Lear: "Thou should have gotten wise before thou got old." It's past time for America's Oldest Teenagers to try to become wise as they once were in their early forties, before they began Lovin' the Twitter and decided it was good and right to have a second childhood a decade or two ahead of schedule.

To be young, physically, is a gift. To be young emotionally -- especially in your silver or silvering years -- is ridiculous and sad.

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posted by Ace of Spades at 04:37 PM

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