Loneliness is quite possibly the worst emotion we can experience, especially if it becomes habitual. This is all the more true if our loneliness is self-inflicted. The modern world—at least that of the post-modern West—does its very best to encourage loneliness. In the modern paradigm, we are meant to live as shoppers and consumers and nothing more. Each is to be kept in his or her little box. You wake up in a box, go to work in a smaller, mobile box, sit in a larger box all day under fluorescent lights (while tiring your eyes before an altar of artificial blue light), then you get back in your little box and drive to another box with alcohol inside before returning to the box where you get far too little sleep.

We have all been sold the idea that living in such a way, without the “need” for a companion, is somehow empowering, a transcendence over historical injustices. That this lifestyle somehow makes you strong. Yet, in the quarter-century or so of my life, I have yet to meet a single individual who is truly happy or fulfilled by living in this way. Pride is too stubborn for us to admit this, though, especially when we do not even recognize it as pride.

Deep down, I think we all realize how self-destructive we have become, but what we are to do? We live our lives behind screens, and even those of us who desire to make real connections are usually unprepared to do so. Our brains have been rewired in such a way as to make human-to-human interaction difficult, often excruciatingly so. With heads full of thousands of TV-show interactions, we constantly overthink things, anticipating how the storywriters tell us every exchange will go. Am I just a desperate, lonely loser? Will I be laughed off? Will the comic music start playing in the background along with the laugh track?

For all its pains, struggles, and shortcomings, the world of our pre-modern fathers was superior to our own in almost every conceivable way. They may not have had the iPad or the Internet, but they truly lived their lives, rather than slept-walked through them. For all their hardships, their lives were real. I suspect we could be like them again if we simply allowed ourselves to be. But we police ourselves to a shocking degree when and are not even aware of it, internalizing the toxic culture more deeply than any tyrant could have hoped to impose it by force. Deep down, I think we are either scared shitless at the idea of becoming truly human or simply want to protect our shallow and fragile egos. We have too much stake in them.


Such were my meditations as I made my way to the coffee shop. Not wanting to be like my alcoholic parents, I considered a regular overindulgence in the opposite category of drug to be a step in the right direction. Especially at that time, my brain was so dopamine-addicted that physical stimulation of this sort was one of the few things I could truly feel.

I was, by society’s conventional standards anyway, a relatively successful man. I had a steady, white-collar job, could afford a decent apartment in a decent(-ish) area, I had a fair number of worldly possessions, and I was able to follow the various diet fads without the need to budget too closely. I also often began my sentences with the word “I.”

Yet the void which I sensed at the periphery of all things was constantly at the back of my mind. Who was it that said that “insanity is a perfectly reasonable reaction to living in an insane environment?” I could try to rationalize my behavior along those lines, but no longer allow myself to do so. Not to say that this attitude is wrong, mind you, but justifying your own behavior with his kind of woe-is-me attitude is the opposite of what an honorable man should do. Yes, the world is a broken place, but it has long been so. The world makes far more sense when you come to believe in the Fall of Man as literal truth.

But I shall come back to this.

I fully expect treatment for caffeine addicts to become as common as those for alcoholics in the next twenty years or less. Both stimulants and depressants can be dangerous, yet one is far more regulated than the other. Both drugs are attempting to fill a bodily desire: one for energy, the other for comfort. Both leave you wanting, and both are highly addictive.

The “benefit,” as it were, from living with addiction is that you never really feel superior to those around you. Constantly aware of your own weaknesses, shortcomings, and inadequacies, you begin to feel empathy for even the worst of your neighbors. Now, do I myself live up to this? Not in the least. I am all too aware of the fact that I am like the parent which tells his child to “do as I say, not as I do.” I am fully aware of the extent to which I am full of it. Pride is the worst of sins because it is so easy to hide from yourself. It takes on countless ingenious and insidious disguises. Even adopting the notion that “I really am no better than them” can be prideful. Unlike those hypocrites which think themselves superior, I know I am not. When you get right down to it, even those of us who seem superficially humble are like the Pharisee of the Gospel of Luke, not the Publican we like to compare ourselves to.

Perhaps I have not convinced you, so let me offer another example. The mind’s clandestine psychology can be seen clearly where offence and self-righteousness are concerned.

Truth is, people like to feel offended; they relish in the joy of it. When you are offended, you get to feel righteous, you get to feel like the underdog, you get to be the center of attention and have others’ empathy thrown at you. It is an emotional high which our dopamine-addicted brains crave. Dostoevsky hit this nail on the head over a century ago: people align themselves with whatever political cause, social philosophy, or (oftentimes) spiritual movement provides them with the most emotional satisfaction. Whatever caters best to our emotional state at a given time. In our day and age, anyway, this goes a long way in explaining the absurd political alliances we see around us.

For example, Muslims in America often ally themselves with the Democratic Party, a party of abortionists, homosexuals, usurers, and atheists, anathema of Islamic values. Why? A shared desire to feel like the underdog, to feel self-righteous. To have an excuse to exercise the primal desire of these emotions with social approval.

Another example: affluent white women who constantly bemoan gun violence, yet feel no qualms whatsoever about murdering their own children in the womb. Why? Emotional stimulation: the desire to put themselves at the center of the universe. If they really cared about children’s safety, they could not possibly be “pro-choice”; no, they purely relish in the emotional high of protesting, or feeling righteous, of feeling like they’re #resisting unjust authority (especially if those in authority just so happen to sound, look, act like, and hold similar beliefs to their fathers). Once their personal convenience or lifestyle is threatened, they are all too eager to sacrifice their children to elder demons, so long as the priest is dressed in a doctor’s white coat.

Modern technology, especially in the form of social media, does little more than to help us put ourselves at the center of the universe, catering to our every egocentric desire. That which strokes the ego is the sole objective of the modern human—truth, liberty, justice, honesty—none of these can compare. In today’s world, being offended is the epitome of self-indulgence.


“Good morning, can I help you, sir?” the girl behind the coffee bar asked, knocking me out of the clouds and back to Earth. I looked up to see a surprisingly attractive brunette in front of me. The coffee bar was oddly crowded for this time of morning, or so it seemed to me. Looking around the room as I walked in, I had seen a church group seated at one of the larger tables (this early on a weekday?), some construction workers sitting along a bar facing the window, and a series of older couples scattered throughout the space.

“Can I get a medium decaf?” I heard myself ask without consciously deciding to do so.

Laughing, she replied, “Wow, I’ve been working here for six months and no one has ordered decaf yet.”

“Well, I’m happy to be your first,” I responded with a shit-eating smirk, again without actually deciding to reply in this way. Sometimes I effectively go on autopilot, kind of like when you drive to work without really paying conscious attention. A years-long student of the sage R.V., I have conditioned myself to navigate these kinds of superficial social interactions in a subtly-flirtatious manner, for the amusement of social awkwardness as much as anything else.

Offering an actual laugh, possibly due to surprise (or at least an apparent lack of sleep),

the barista walked off to prepare my why-bother-coffee.

At this point you may say, “Ah, but what about the criminalization of healthy human interaction? Flirting can be considered harassment, eye contact as aggression, conversation as imposing! Men face a lifetime of legal—if not criminal—woes if they proceed as you describe!” On this front, I can do little to argue. I can only offer the following anecdote.

As a young man, J.R.R. Tolkien and his friends had a rallying cry with which they would encourage each other to feats of bravery: “helhaimer.” From an ancient Anglo-Saxon root conveying the same heroic sentiment, it is particularly fit for our day. Usually, we face little physical risk in intimidating social situations, but human psychology is such that we always live in fear of it. A young woman (in the West anyway) is not going to have five of her brothers come and beat you if your small-talk goes badly; your boss is not going to have you executed if you make a minor fuck-up on the job. Yet ancestral memory is dark and deep, and our instincts constantly put us in an over-vigilant state of mind. While there is no escaping this completely, its gravitational pull can be reduced overtime by confronting and overcoming difficult social situations again and again. Just like Dante’s Inferno, the only way out is through.

You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, and since modern society really is as fucked as you say, you may as well become braver as we all disintegrate. As the Saxon sage said, “bravery is found in unlikely places.”

“I forgot to ask,” she said, “can I get a name for the order?”

“Dan,” I replied.

“Really? You know, you’re the third Daniel we’ve had today.”

“You can write something else if you want.”

Winning another laugh, she went off again, letting me return to my mental clouds.

The trouble with being empathic is that you have little control over your emotions. You are pushed and pulled as if by ocean waves and can do little to keep yourself above water. Realizing that achieving lasting stability is in all likelihood impossible, you do your best to learn how to “surf” these metaphorical waves, riding them as long as you can and getting back up when you inevitably fall into the deep from time to time. Stoicism provides a useful guide for learning how to surf, but it still can leave you in a materialistic malaise. Living for something higher than the material world—especially living for God (even if you do not truly believe at first)—is a far more potent guide. It is for this reason I think that so many among the “Intellectual Dark Web” (the real one, not this Jordan Peterson/Niall FergusonB nonsense) are now embracing the “God pill.” I truly believe that it is the only cure for nihilism, and this realization is catching on fast.

I also believe that it is true, but I don’t expect you to just take my word for it.

My coffee arrived after a few minutes, once again calling me back to the physical world. Seeing that it was the same barista who brought it to me, and not the other one who had been making most of the drinks, I said, “I’ll probably be back this afternoon; I have a feeling I’ll need another boost today.” This time, she nodded slightly as she smiled, simultaneously letting off an ever-so-subtle shrug of the shoulders. Turning to walk out the door, I looked down at my cup to take a sip out of it. Sure enough, the cup read “something else :).”


For all installments of “The Sins We Remember Fondly,” click here.