people suck

why nice ideas don't work

Written by graham

people suck.

i treat this as an irrefutable fact.

they don't mean to.

...most of the time.

but when it comes to "good ideas that don't work"-like certain political ideologies-a lot of the finger pointing to explain the failure falls squarely on that malevolent spirit known mystically as human nature...

it's that all-encompassing but frustratingly vague reference to whatever it is that causes people to act in selfish, cruel, greedy, gluttonous and violence-prone ways-even when the going's good and there's no immediate threat to throw everyone into the kind of blind panic that can spark off such self-serving silliness.

given enough time or enough money, a look at past history appears to imply all political systems of belief are doomed to become corrupt...

because people just suck.

so i wonder a lot about this suckage.

i wonder what the cause could be... what the root could be... whether or not suckage is inevitable, or just merely probable.

most importantly, i wonder that if people inherently suck by default, can suckage be cured?

while i'm not sure about an outright cure at this stage, i do know that suckage can certainly be held at bay.

it just takes a little conscious, concentrated effort.

and that's the problem.

because "conscious, concentrated effort" also happens to be some people's definition of "a complete pain in the ass."

and to be honest, they are right.

a complete pain in the ass is sometimes what it is... especially if your environment is diametrically opposed to it.

diametrically opposed is an overly wordy way of saying that when everyone around you is eating cake, the rice version tends to lose its appeal.

but nonetheless, if the effort is made, suckage can be controlled.

it continues to exist, of course...

anyone familiar with the fantasy world of Tolken's Lord of the Rings knows that "evil in the hearts of man" is the reason humans don't make good ring-bearers.

give me a little power and wham, it just goes right to my head.

a shame. that invisibility trick looked fun.

so suckage always exists, but it can be controlled...

the trick is to be aware of what is suck and when it is trying to suckify.

suckification is not like a disease.

it doesn't burn when you pee if you're developing a case of it.

in fact, the opposite tends to happen:

at the time, it feels really, really good.

really good.

seductively good, even.

just like your mother warned you about.

suckage is the devil.

the devil!!!

a little melodramatic, but yes..

the devil.

whatever you want to call that sweet, little tempting voice that says, "aww go on, have another... give her a call... do a little more... who's going to find out? just don't tell anyone.. then no one will know... besides, you look good in that colour.. hot, even.. and you can double your money in half the time.. don't stop now, you're on fire......"

when you become suckified, self-serving ideas for personal gain seem like good ideas, and good ideas that serve others, potentially at your expense, seem laughably unimportant.

suckage is the catalyst for the breakdown of ordered social systems because the suck throws off the delicate balance of give and take the system needs to work.

it's like Jenga.. you take it from the bottom and you put it on top... but if you suck, you collaspe the tower for everyone.

this is described in a common analogy known dramatically as the Tragedy of the Commons.

imagine a field of grass and a bunch of cows owned by different people grazing in it. each cow only allowed to graze for a certain about of time each day according to local town rules.

of course, real contentment would dissolve those insecurities and desires, and they are the driving force behind sales.

one day, a cow owner gets the idea that if he lets his cow graze for a minute more each day, his cow will get fatter and he'll be able to sell it for more money later. since it's only one minute, no one will know.

of course they won't.

we should all know what happens next.

each cow owner thinks the same thing, and within a week, all the grass is gone from overgrazing and the cows die.


what a tragedy!

so what makes me so qualified to discuss suck like i don't suck myself?


someone once told me about his friend who went a little crazy and started saying things like, "you gotta look the devil in the eye."

crazy as he might have been...

i can relate.

i know about the devil because i spend a lot of time looking at him.

i bet you do, too.

everyone does.

it's a delusion to deny it.

so stop worrying about that part. admitting this is not the same as falling victim to it.

quite the opposite.

admitting personal suckage in thought before it manifests as action is an effective preventative measure against suckification.

some people call it confession.

you can call it deinsuckification, if you like.

"desuck" for short.

i'm being a little facetious here in throwing around the slang "suck" like a seasoned academic word. but is it really a coincidence this particular verb has managed to permeate so deeply within the venicular of popular vocabulary?

in the immortal words of one
homer j. simpson,

"man, they were the suckiest bunch of suckers that ever did suck."

it seems becoming a simpons reference is an automatic affirmation of a thing's sublime presence within our popular culture's collective conscience.

so why suck?

i mean, why this word to become the ultimate negifying colloquialism to describe just about anything?

i like to think of what the word suck invokes in my mind.

i remember this children's story my mom used to read me about this fellow who opened his mouth so big, he sucked up the whole ocean. in the picture book, there was an illustration of this stout little fellow with his mouth dispropriately wide, sucking all the water in with the power of a hoover meets the hoover.

i don't remember what the point of the story was, but it sure appeared to contain a lot of suck.

the act of sucking (literally, i mean) says it all.. to suck something is not just to take, but to take relentlessly.. right down to the last, slurping drop and still going on, sucking for more.

relentless taking. that is what it is to suck.

what an oddly moral signifier popular culture has managed to instill in its most common descriptor of things which are are bad.

who says morality is dead?

yet how widely realized is this?

my guess is, it's not.

like any overused phrase, the active conceptualization of the notion described in its original definition has simply been pounded by repetition into dull meaninglessness.

but still, i find it interesting that at one point, there must have been a semi-conscious decision on a collective level to choose "suck" as the jewel of the cynic's crown.

it was a bleep of actual morality that might yet be resuscitated.

the phrase enjoys a consistent popularity far beyond that of typical slang.

however deep this sense of morality has been buried, there is clearly an understanding that sucking (this time i mean both the literal act of slurping, and the metaphorical act of relentless taking) is inherently a bad thing to do.

it's bad for the sucker, bad for the sucked, and bad for everyone else.

throwing off the balance, however temporarily gaining in the short-term, screws everyone over. when the field runs out of grass and all the cows die, i starve just as much as you do, no matter who did the original sucking.

why then, do people continue to suck?

even knowing better!

i have an idea as to why.

people suck because they don't have a good reason not to.

it goes beyond merely knowing better...

since knowing is only one half of true understanding.

the other half is direct and personal experience.

memory refers to one's personal data record of a given type of experience based on a direct encounter with it.

reading about skydiving is all well and good. but one can never claim to fully understand the experience unless one has actually jumped out of a plane.

true understanding comes from knowledge + experience.

the short-term gains of sucking are easily understood, because they produce immediate results.

this instant turn-around satisfies the prerequisite for personal experience. if there are positive short-term results, those results feed the understanding that the suck is good.

the long-term effects of sucking do not usually produce immediate results. without the direct experience of those results, a true understanding of the effects of sucking is difficult, if not impossible.

hence the seduction of suck..

the instant confirmation of suck's benefit far outweighs the perception of its long-term consequence because of this experience imbalance.

when you don't understand suck, you leave yourself vulnerable to be suckered.

it sucks you in with immediate gain, and sucks you down to an eventual doom.



to understand suck, you must experience it.

both in the short-term, and in the long-term.

you must look the devil in the eye.

to really understand suck is to go down that dark tunnel. to directly experience it.

and find the way out again.

nothing is so dark as the inside one's own heart.

good luck.