Growing away from Jordan Peterson

If you’ve known me in the past, you’d know I was a yuuuuge Jordan Peterson fan. He taught me such a wealth of information about the world that I would’ve been eons behind in time had I not watched his videos.

That being said, I’ve come to realize that his philosophy of life has its weaknesses, specifically the part where he thinks you should force yourself to do things that you don’t want to do and his general like of conformity.

Here’s what I mean. This video and this video basically encapsulate his view, which is that you are not in control of your actions because there are things inside of you that want things, and therefore you need to negotiate with yourself in order to control yourself. I listened to this for a long time, and it has helped me get through university.

But now I think that this isn’t the right thing to do. Why? Because it allows for oppression to go on. Schooling may be damaging your soul by inhibiting your ability to think critically, to read and write and think for pleasure, and to play. Two things I learned from Peterson is that the basis of higher-order morality is a game, and that Ritalin inhibits play. He used Piaget’s society=game to show that there is indeed a transcendental morality that all human beings share. A game where humans join in freely will always win over a game where humans are forced to join in because the forcing is a cost. That is why totalitarian societies fail – their people don’t want to play them, so they crumble very quickly.

But Peterson doesn’t really apply this same philosophy to school and education. While he has expressed worry about how our schools are built like factories and how university students are all mopey and depressed because sitting in a desk for 12 hours is so unnatural, he sees it as a justifiable cost to pay in order to have functional societies. In other words, while culture and the great father strangle you half to death, they also give you words to speak and let you accomplish things.

As a result, when your soul protests against studying and reading a boring reading that has no relevance to your life, you need to learn how to negotiate with it, and then you can be more “efficient.” He says, in the video I linked above for example, that people waste hours on end doing things that they know they shouldn’t be doing that is a waste of their time (watching netflix, reading listicles, going on insta, etc). But I’m starting to think now that it’s university that is the waste of time and those other things which are actually interesting and which will lead to a person’s optimal development.

Why? For one, from a Darwinian and Jungian perspective, what you find interesting is what will best develop your personality. It’s like going into a library and walking down the row of books – there’ll be some titles that cry out for you to take them and read them. Others, not so much. Why do they cry out? Because there’s something within you that knows it needs to encounter those ideas. Or another example: why you fall in love with people who you know aren’t good for you or who are best for you. Maybe you fall in love with someone emotionally distant, or straight, or abusive, and you can’t help it! I think that this happens because there’s an underground conflict going on which you haven’t figured out, and until you figure it out, you’ll be drawn to the same character over and over again in different people.

Most importantly, I think that what you find most interesting is what will best develop your personality. This is something that I’ve come across while window shopping for jobs. I’m a marketer, but I saw a really cool job posting that fit my skills really well. But there was one requirement there that had me cursing – you had to be an avid gamer. Now, I love playing minecraft. A couple of weeks ago, I’d play it for 3 hours a day, 5 days in a row. But I stopped it because “it added no tangible benefit to my life.” Unfortunately, the tangible benefit came later!

Of course, I couldn’t have known that the job opening existed. But that’s exactly the point. You don’t know how or where your skills and passions will be useful in life. That’s why you’ve got to pursue them and then let serendipity work its magic. And by being ruthless and “efficient,” you may miss out on developing skills and talents which actually would make you so much more happier and fulfilled than if you sought a goal that you convinced yourself you cared about in the first place (like becoming a lawyer, or getting a university degree).

Thus, if you have a passion for something, or if you’re not really interested in something, it may be the case that not doing it would be better for you! If you’re addicted to youtube, it may be a message that it’s time you should join in and start creating videos too.

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