Robotically Good

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

Totally reminded me of this joke where a man tells a doctor, “I don’t drink, smoke, or gamble. I don’t drink coffee or tea, just water. I don’t eat meat. I work out 5 times a week and always go to bed before 10 pm. I avoid stressful situations. Will I be able to live to 100 years old?” “Probably,” the doctor says. “If you can call this freak show of yours life.”

Don’t people notice how ridiculous they sound when they produce such descriptions of robotic goodness? If one were to meet such a fellow in RL, he’d probably turn out to be a serial killer. Because you can’t repress to this degree and not have a major shadow lurking behind the robotic exterior.


17 thoughts on “Robotically Good”

  1. There is a whole online movement of mommy blogs with the same content. All the moms are avid runners or yoga/barre3 instructors (!), supposedly love to cook but all organic/locally sourced/super wholesome (and post pics of food), all go to bed early, bike/hike/otherwise enjoy nature, and are never — NEVER — negative about anything, for that’s the worst of all sins. Everything is a fuckin’ blessing. (As an aside they are all quite affluent, so there are nannies, often a small army, to support all that perfection. I don’t know why I read any of those, honestly.)


  2. I think the happiest people do most of those things naturally: good marriage, good job, no huge psychological problems which would lead to crime or substance abuse, etc.


    1. Everybody had a shadow, even those of us who have good marriages and jobs.

      Winnicott, the great psychoanalyst of childhood, described what a curse “the perfect mother” is to a child, for instance. The one who is never angry, never tired, never distracted, everything always in perfect order, everything is a blessing, like xyqademiqs described. That’s the source of the worst neuroses.


      1. Everybody had a shadow, even those of us who have good marriages and jobs.

        Thank you for this. I have gotten in trouble online and IRL because I inherently don’t trust the people for whom everything is always 100% peachy and upbeat — they are hiding something, from the world and possibly themselves. We don’t have to be negative Nellies, but gimme a break — nobody is perfect, and I hate it when people try to convince themselves and others that this facade (never tired, always happy, never angry, etc.) is actual reality. Everyone, without exception, has something that gnaws at them, even if it’s only a little and not very often. Nobody is perfect, and I resent the people who want me to play along as they pretend that they are.


  3. Is this antisemitic?

    JTA – A municipality near Paris warned farmers of an elevated risk of theft of sheep and fowl ahead of the Muslim and Jewish holidays of Eid al-Adha and Yom Kippur, respectively.

    The letter instructed farmers to practice “the highest degree of alertness” ahead of the Muslim holiday, which this year falls on Sept. 1, and the Jewish one 28 days later, because followers of those religions perform “unauthorized sacrifices” of sheep and chickens, respectively.

    In the hours prior to Yom Kippur, in some Jewish communities roosters and chickens are waved several times in the air and slaughtered as atonement for sins incurred during the previous year. The meat is given to charity. Religious laws forbid the use of a stolen chicken for the rite.

    According to Le Parisien, sheep have been stolen in the past for sacrifice during Eid al-Adha, but likely not by Muslims. Roma traders sold some 200 stolen sheep in 2013 ahead of the Muslim holiday to worshipers. The sheep were sold for approximately half of their market value.

    The daily did not, however, offer a report of any theft of chickens ahead of Yom Kippur.

    To Francis Kalifat, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jews, the inclusion of the Jewish holiday in the police’s circular was one of many cases in which “Jews are equated, compared, amalgamated” with Muslims incorrectly as a tactic for deflecting accusation of Islamophobia.

    “This systematic tendency by politicians and in the media, and this time by administrative authorities, has become intolerable and unacceptable,” he was quoted as saying by La Croix.


    1. “Is this antisemitic?”

      I’d say it is, but it’s self-defense anti-semitism. They don’t want to be called bigots by reporting yet more negative news about muslims and gypsies (the source of so much unpleasantness in Europe at present) and so they drag in the jews to provide some “balance”.

      Under different circumstances they might use Chinese and/or vietnamese (if Eid took place close to the lunar new year – since that often involves eating the animal symbol of the coming year).


  4. I never thought of conservative smugness over traditional values as being analogous to Perfect People Liberalism. I always thought the better analogy was religious purity (which is a bit different from the smugness oozing from that article) but upon further reflection I think you are exactly right. A liberal with a perfect house and kids who are only fed organic vegan food and who goes to yoga is very much like a perfect conservative who projects an image of a 50’s sitcom.


      1. People who basically follow the rules of society (get a job, get married, raise children who give them grandchildren, believe in peace but go to war when necessary, actually vote instead of just mouthing off, etc.) keep the world going.

        Don’t be so quick to mock them.


  5. “Get married before you have children and strive to…..”

    Just gonna say, as a life plan there’s nothing wrong with the guidelines and the more people actually can stick to them the better for society overall. You and most readers have followed them more than not.

    The problem is when people forget they are guidelines and treat them as either goals in and of themselves or take the opposite tack and try to purposefully not follow them as much as possible.


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