Much of my recent creativity has been (covertly) centered around my conflicts with conformity and the way it plays into human behavior, particularly how it leads to my separation and subsequent suffering. While it isn’t explicit, my motivation for such a focus is due to personal relevance. Occasionally, I wonder if my separation from groups of people emerges as a consequence of the ancestral poisoning of my genes or due to the training from people around me or from life itself. This problem houses itself in the back of my mind, endlessly playing reruns of experiences from my life, keeping me observant of how generations of my family behave in socially self-destructive ways. Is it because of genetic destiny that I became this way? Is it because of my family’s actions, leading me astray?
The honest answer is a bit of both. Let’s start with the environment, which has more clear effects. Rather than growing up in some integrated tight-knit family, I was framed as the enemy of my single-parent mother and her violent simp. Somehow, my mother was the enemy of her own mother as well, suggesting that this pattern is generationally recursive. This muddies whether or not it is environmental or genetic. For the time being, I will show you the machine of the world that conditioned me to become me.
My most up to date environmental hypothesis on explaining what I’ve become is that I was simply not trained to be loyal very well. I was trained to fight the authority in my life at a young age. The fight between my mother and her mother led my family to move out of a house we (almost) inherited from my mother’s mother’s mother, my great grandmother. My great grandmother developed Alzheimer’s after we started living on property that she owned. At the end of her life, the deed was granted to my “regular” grandmother. The rage this created in my mother split the family apart.
A song I made with some dark vibes to set the mood.
Leading up to this, I grew up fairly isolated. My friends were all linked to my cousin, who also happened to be my best friend growing up. The times back then were magical. We had sleepovers and played video games, sleep depriving for days sometimes, to the point of madness and hallucination. Perhaps a bit extreme, but it was all for good fun. Once the drama intoxicated the family network, the system of human bonds began to crumble. In middle school, I was instructed to stop talking to my cousin. Which really meant to stop talking to everyone I talked to. This led me into isolation, and I experienced madness in its truer form for the first time.
My first psychotic experience occurred during this time. The sudden loss and the stress of the drama and of moving out of my childhood home drew my mind to the edge of my sanity. Walking through my middle school campus became a scary experience. I just knew that my peers could hear my thoughts. I developed protective psychological infrastructure: a firewall of curse words swarmed my conscious thoughts to prevent the acquisition of intel by my enemies. Religious delusions became feasible. My life would slowly bring me to prophetic power. Luckily, most of that faded during the transitionary summer leading into high school. What didn’t fade was my lack of connection with either my mother or my peers. Loneliness was at the center of my social world.
My imposed social isolation by my authoritarian mother meant I lacked the chance to develop closeness with others. Instead, my social world was focused on my bullies and characters of conflict. My loyalty to my mother progressively waned with time. All the while, I was unallowed to be loyal to my friends. Conformity was not a standard I was held to. No longer did I have friends who would hurt me for being different. My mother was no conformist either. She colored her hair, decorated the house with absurdity and magic, and lived a very off the grid life all throughout her childhood. Since no pressure to conform held me back, I was free.
I was free. Hey, it wasn’t all bad.
There wasn’t really anyone to guide me to normality. The only police of my mind were those bullies, enemies, and strangers that my peer group “consisted” of. No one could tell me what to think or do. This allowed me to develop ideas that would normally be squashed by peers or my mother. While I still felt the pressure to be religious from my mother, I also developed delusions that I was going to become the antichrist. Yes, I was fucking insane. Luckily, I knew I was insane, and I lied about it to those around me. These delusions faded with that transitionary summer and my religiousness ceased a few years later. This still showcases how freedom from conformity can spiral into freedom to madness. It was only my first taste of the effects of jarring shifts of social life contexts.
During high school, I was able to meet new friends, without the baggage that loyalty brings. That’s not to say I wasn’t loyal at all, but I did hop from clique to clique, seeing the lens of each group of people. All of these other people seemed to be a bit more ingrained in their groupishness. This left me wondering why they remained so fixated on their ingroups. My friendship style was and probably still is very platonically polyamorous. Whereas many of my friends in high school seemed much more clique-monogamous.
Another dark song I created.
At the same time, my mother became dependent on a violent man to pay the bills in our new living place. Alcohol became a solution to her problems and her solution became my problem. Eventually this evolved into heroin use. Over the course of the next few years, going into high school, chaos kindled into a great vast fire of drama, drugs, mania, sleeplessness, emotional abandonment, and unreasonable weekday parties lasting into the early A.M. only ending with a major bang of violence, tragedy, and the police. Eventually, the police were called one too many times and the cops had child protective services take us away.
The next lesson in empathy and non-loyalty began.
Then, my siblings and I entered a state of parentlessness and foster care. During my imposed excommunication from my mother, I began to see more from perspectives that she could no longer police. I could see more clearly that my grandmother was in a strange predicament with my mother. Both sides seemed evil to me. Yet, both sides seemed understandable too. My empathy was unbound by the pressures to conform to my mother or my grandmother’s perspective. This allowed me to explore both.
Similar to my group-hopping in high school, I was now pushed into family-hopping through foster care. This led to touring various cultures as my siblings and I were moved around to different families with different cultures. We got to see a Mexican family, a Peruvian family, and a Black family. This turned out to be fascinating.
The Peruvian family was as lax as one could be. They introduced us to fascinating new foods. Her son befriended me. We had lengthy weird talks, and I learned a lot about colloquial life in my generation. Their son also introduced me to hookah, which became the reason for our parting after my mother discovered this and got us removed.
The Mexican family was weirdly authoritarian, kind, and traditional. They had a large family and another foster sibling who was a Nazi. This family took our phones away and controlled my access to my medications. I didn’t spend much time with the Black family, but my siblings did. I had already graduated high school and foster care at that point. They continued to enter and exit foster care as the waves of the legal system’s control over my mother and her use of heroin fluctuated, up until the point that she died from an overdose on the day that my siblings were planned to reunite with her.
These experiences seemed to prime me to develop an empathy for those who are different from me and also to keep my distance, perhaps unintentionally as a consequence of not playing into people’s fears of others. Loyalty is valuable as a trait because it functions as protection. It safeguards us from betrayals. It also ensures that side-taking occurs in advantageous ways. Side-taking is something I was forced out of when I was hurled into foster care and all these various cliques in high school. I didn’t have a side.
To this day, I still do not resonate with the feeling of having a side. Seemingly, paradoxically, I feel this facilitated my path to becoming “vegan”, which I put in quotes because I do not really look at it as a faction that I subscribe to. I do not align very well with the opinions of other vegans I’ve met. Such deviance has also allowed my curiosity for psychedelics to manifest. The lack of pressure to fit in with some “side” has gifted me the freedom to behave and think in ways that might be otherwise policed. Consider the stigma against vegans and drugs. These stigmas are forms of policing. We fear that our side will lose loyalty to us for not playing according to the rules. Without a sense of alliance to any particular group for long periods of time, I developed coping strategies to deal with living outside of people’s cults. No family cult, no peer cult, but instead I often drift and intimately befriend people in a solo manner.
While that sounds nice and all, it has also been incredibly painful. It feels as if everything I touch (socially) catches fire. My heretical presence seems to dysregulate groups sometimes. I bring information that threatens group order. My aura seems to invite chaos to groups. It has even made me wonder if I am a “psychopath” (except with empathy). My lack of side-taking sometimes makes both sides hate me. When people request or desire side-taking from me, it causes dysphoria. It feels unethical of people to desire that of me. I see side-takers and polarizers as part of the problem with the state of society. There are too many differences between us all to be side-taking and forming a cohesive functional society.
This is all I can think of for today. So go off, into the wilderness of minds that exists in society and learn to navigate those you oppose. It will hurt. They will hurt you, unfairly. Though, it will be for the best in the end. We will all grow.
Check out the book I just finished, The Psychonet. It explores many ideas from this blog and is designed to make you feel alive, emotional, and maybe terrified. It uses AI art and depicts a story about AI.
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