Preferring nightmares

December 2009

What I don't get is the kind of deliberate delusion in which a person chooses to pretend the world is more horrifying and filled with more and more-monstrous monsters. Why would anyone prefer such a place to the real world? Why would anyone wish for a world filled with socialist conspiracies, secret Muslim atheists, Satan-worshipping pop stars and bloodthirsty baby-killers?

— Slacktivist, Preferring Nightmares

Nato commented:

Because if the bigger world outside of our own little world is big and scary it makes our own little world seem nicer and more comfortable? It also raises ones own importance in the world as being one of the few who know what is going on, almost a kinda of elitism?

There are reasons for unreasonable beliefs...

Matt commented:

Indeed. Or, as the post suggests, these people are so mean and miserable that they (a) want to not be the worst people in the world, so they invent worse and (b) they like to imagine everyone is as miserable as them.

Nato commented:

heh... sounds like I should read the post....

reuben commented:

Firstly I should point out I really don't know anything about the tea party movement, I find reality quite nightmarish enough without having to inform myself about this kind of thing.

However, the main criticism I would make of the piece is that it is trying to argue that these people are delusional, but that they are somehow still cognitively together enough to have intentionally chosen this delusion. That doesn't seem like a very plausible explanation to me.

I think a more likely explanation would involve stepping back and, for instance, seeing how the movement is shaping the discourse in the US. The author points out the foolish remark about not hearing Obama say anything positive about America; of course it is a lie, of course they don't believe it, it is rhetoric. It is just a play in the game of politics. Some people have power, and they use it to shape the worldviews of the powerless to maintain their positions of power. Obama is a threat to that, and so they will say whatever they need to direct the public discourse to examining his faults.