The facade on top of the truth

29 Jan

“Honne and Tatemae are Japanese words that describe the contrast between a person’s true feelings and desires (honne) and the behavior and opinions one displays in public (tatemae). See also: Facade.”

Perhaps I’m just tactless or socially inept but I can’t stand when people put up facades. If you feel a particular way about something, just say it and don’t waste my time. I hate trying to decipher the true meaning behind what people say or how they act. Perhaps one of the most common everyday areas where this can be seen is in dating.

Dating or “the game” is all about honne and tatemae and figuring out what the other person thinks. Do they like me? Do they not like me? Are they attracted to me or no? I don’t want to appear too eager or disinterested. I want to appear cool, calm, and confident. Will they go home with me tonight? How can I find out without offending them? How can I say things without saying them?

I hate all that shit. It might be fun for some, but it’s a giant waste of time from my perspective. I wish people would be upfront and forward about what they want. “I think you’re cool. Let’s bang.” Life would be so much easier and less stressful if people were honest about their feelings, but we’re not because we’re either afraid of rejection, afraid of hurting someone else, or hiding something.

A girl may not be interested in you because she finds you physically unattractive. Instead of just coming out and saying “I find you unattractive” she may try let you know in other, less painful ways, that she is not interested in you. Nonetheless, these less painful ways don’t change the fact that she is ultimately not interested in you.

I’m using social interactions and dating as an example to try and elucidate the following:

Ultimately the there is a truth. Truth can often be uncomfortable. We try to cover up this uncomfortable truth with facades and niceties. All those facades and niceties might make this truth more palatable, but in the end it does not alter the ultimate reality of that truth.

This applies to politics too.

I think a lot of my worldview and cynicism comes from the fact that I am always trying to look past the  political facades. I don’t care to debate what this politician or that politician said. What I care about is what is the ultimate truth behind all of it. I care about raw power and how that power is exercised. Where is the money going? Who benefits from how things are? Who is really calling the shots?

Politicians are masters of facades. They will spin something any way they feel they need to in order to get the public to swallow it. They’ll pass a bill letting companies dump toxic waste in rivers and call it the “clean water act.” They’ll let unemployment benefits expire for millions of Americans and stop counting them as unemployed and then turn around and say “Look! Unemployment is down! The economy is getting better!” Perception management (facades) is the name of the game. This doesn’t change the political truth that they don’t give a fuck about the unemployed or the environment.

What infuriates me is how most people don’t want to talk about the political truths. It makes them uncomfortable. They like living in the pretend land of perception management. They’re fine staying within the confines of a debate framed by the politicians. They’ll happily debate who should store all the data the government is collecting on its citizens but they won’t touch the issue of the legality and ethics of collecting that data in the first place! The raw political truth from those in power is clear: “We are going to spy on everything everyone does for whatever purpose we want and there isn’t a goddamn thing you can do about it.” What worse, people will accept this as long as the government couches it in a comfortable way. “We’re protecting you from terrorism!” is the facade when what they’re really doing is targeting everyone to stifle dissent.

Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about in the wild:

An independent review board found that the NSA’s bulk phone data collection program was illegal and ineffective.

“We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation…”

That completely destroys any argument a politician might make about continuing the program to fight terrorism, and yet the program is being continued anyways. Why? Why is it being continued even though it has been shown to be completely useless at stopping terrorism.

Because it isn’t about stopping terrorism.

That is the facade. The real truth behind that facade is that it is an excellent program for keeping tabs on your own citizens. But nobody wants to talk about that! It’s fucking infuriating! No body wants to deal with the uncomfortable truth that we live under a power hungry Orwellian government. That’s too ugly and not polite. It’s maddening!

I’ve said it before on here, but another uncomfortable truth about or society is that all government power extends from violence. People look at me funny when I say this. Rule by violence sounds so barbaric and brutish, but that’s the truth of it. We live in a world where violence is power. We cover it up with layers and layers of facades and niceties like a judicial system, lawyers, tickets and all the other facets of a bureaucracy, but at the end of the line there’s a man with a gun and the threat of violence if you do not obey.

I stopped wanting to debate politics with people when I realized they weren’t interested in talking about the real fundamental flaws in our society. It’s the same reason I stopped debating the particulars of religion with people when they can’t reasonably demonstrate that their god exists in the first place. Transubstantiation vs consubstantiation is a pointless debate when the god the whole religion revolves around doesn’t even exist! But that’s all people want to talk about, that’s all media outlets want to cover: this artificial debate about non-fundamental issues.

Why? I think people are afraid to talk about the real structural issues with our society. I think people are afraid to talk about why we allow governments to exist where being a megalomaniac psychopath is almost a pre-requisite for holding office. I think they’re terrified that the whole system of society might not work. Everyone is so deeply, so inextricably entangled and dependent on society that any thought of it being broken is too much to bear. I think that’s why anarchism is seen as being so dangerous. Anyone who takes a step back and says “You know, maybe this isn’t the best way for human beings to live” is dangerous and needs to be stopped at all costs! I think there are some deeper philosophical issues at play here. Issues revolving around man’s fear of freedom, fear of being alone in the universe, fear of being responsible for his own decisions and actions. People are willing to cling to a broken and horrible system because it gives them a sense of stability. It gives them walls and boundaries to operate in where they can derive meaning. I don’t need it for the same reason I don’t need some external god to give my life meaning and validation. I’m brave enough to find those things on my own.

I can’t fault people entirely though. They’re born into a society that encourages dependency. They need the government to protect them, they need religion to save them from themselves; it’s constantly drilled into them from birth. If you comply and go with the flow you’ll be looked after. Everything will be alright. You won’t have freedom or independence, but you’ll be warm, fed, and safe. At least that’s what society promises. And so people continue living within this facade, debating the finer points of frivolous issues. Meanwhile  really horrible political truths continue to exist and people who attempt to bring attention to them are denounced as  crazy radicals.

4 Responses to “The facade on top of the truth”

  1. James Smith January 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    WHen it comes to politicians, they only have one rule. “Will this help me in the coming election?” Everything they think, do, and say must pass that one test.

    What are they really thinking? I just told you.

  2. Christin May 9, 2014 at 7:32 am #

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  4. J June 26, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    Yes, so many people do live in this make-believe facade world and it is, as you have said, “maddening”. It is these same surface-obsessed conformist junkies that throw around words like “real” to describe themselves and say infuriatingly stupid shit like “If you ain’t real I ain’t feelin’ ya.” And here I thought that all living, breathing people were real people! Most modern people (at least in America) can’t empathize, are probably psychopaths, and thus will dehumanize what they don’t understand or isn’t like them whenever and however possible. The surface suits them, I am not like them, and have lost my desire and much of my ability to empathize with their plights. I will always try to live in truth when I can manage to not look too crazy doing so, for my own survival here.

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