(Punishment part 7)
Ways To Punish
I think the most difficult part about addressing the concept of “punishment” is that punishment is all about intention. To punish something, or for that fact to perceive something as being punished, you either have to focus intention towards, or interpret intention from the injuries, pain or suffering inflicted onto or affecting self or others.
So when it comes to helping people learn how to address, manage and overcome their addictions to punishing things, the biggest obstacle is probably going to be getting people to admit that they intentionally injure things so that they can experience feelings of relief and satisfaction.
Its literally no different than trying to get any other type of addict to admit they have a problem.
And since the addiction to punishment literally resides in intention, people can lie about their addiction to punishing things, because they can lie about their intentions towards people and things, to others and even to themselves…
This is highly problematic as its nearly impossible to determine with any certainty what an individual’s or group’s intentions truly are (that is, at least for those trapped in and forced to work through perceptive valuation).
In this sense, determining a person’s honesty level with respect to their intentions could be likened to assessing an individual’s tolerance for alcohol consumption, in that there’s no universal rule to it. Two people could consume the same amount of alcohol, and could both claim it affects them in different ways, but then actually be affected by it in different ways too. One person could say they’re fine and be drunk off of their gourds, while the other could literally be fine and experience little to no effects of inebriation. One person could be fully functional and the other incapacitated, in the same way two people can claim and even assume themselves to be honest about their intentions, with wildly different frames of reference as it relates to personal honesty.
Again, when you want to punish something, or to see something punished, it means you want to see it injured and stripped of value for your own sense of satisfaction and gratification. Just the other day, my good friend Alexandria hipped me to a new word (for me at least): Schadenfreude. Its a german word that basically translates into “joy or elation at the suffering of others”. The thing is, its not just joy and elation, its literally an addiction to the inebriating effect caused by punishing or witnessing the punishment of those we deem worthy of it.
Addicts are wildly dishonest people. Unfortunately their addictions cause them to become cowardly, mentally weak and impressionable towards things that are convenient to their addictions and beliefs, deflective, delusional, entitled, self-aggrandizing, self-justifying and self-righteous individuals. And this assessment is not a moral judgment against addicts, but instead, a description of how the mechanism behind addiction affects people’s general attitudes, outlooks and behaviors.
We just happen to live in a society where people have free access to substances they don’t even realize are wildly addictive and/or habit forming. For instance, people are highly addicted to ingested substances like caffeine, sugar, salt and the umami flavor, but then also addicted to stimulatory substances, like the lighting and color pallets found in LCD screens and then the digital compressed sounds achieved through and consumed from electronic devices. Then too, people can become addicted to conceptual substances, like authority, power, (the value of) money, accreditation, allure, reputation, violence, competition, opportunities, rewards, etc.
Punishment is a conceptual substance, and it’s as common, salient, pervasive and dismissible as stimulants like sugar and coffee.
This raises the question: “How many different ways are you either encouraged or allowed to punish things in your day to day life?” How many ways are you allowed to indulge in punishment, and see punishment as this harmless and even necessary element in all aspects and tiers of society?
Walk with me real quick…
Let’s start with something really simple. A few years back I wrote a post stating that the Youtube “thumbs down” feature was the most useless internet feature of all. Many people disagreed with that, however, when you think about it, what does that feature actually do for people? In truth, all it really does is give people the power to unilaterally punish things — to injure other people’s works and ideas with their own contempt. That feature doesn’t inspire people to form cogent, whole or useful thoughts about anything, but instead, to experience fleeting senses of power from injuring things that are powerless to fight back.
What do social media platforms do for trolls and/or authoritarian-thinkers? They give “punishment junkies” an opportunity to injure things unilaterally (in the sense that people can seek to injure things and then disengage prior to others responding to their acts of aggression). Social media pretty much allows unwitting addicts to individually or collectively punish things, in pursuit of chemical highs and/or their own senses of satisfaction.
Simply put, if you’re on social media and taking part in any hot topic discourse, or attempting to silence others, or injure things with your opinions, contempt and sense of personal sovereignty, you are necessarily developing your addiction to, and tolerance for punishing things.
How many reality shows, or characters in movies, or celebrities do you want to see punished and humiliated on a daily basis? Gossip — airing people out or exposing them is attempting to punish them with embarrassment.
In fact, here are the main branches of punishment, from which all other forms of punishment emerge:
Withholding — can be anything ranging from hiding (or keeping away) information or artifacts, all the way to sex or cooperation in situations that require mutualism.
Physical injury / assault — can be any type of physical abuse, ranging from rape or violently attacking people or things, to various forms of starvation.
Humiliation / embarrassment — that is, to strip someone of status and value before an audience of onlookers, can be anything ranging from gossip, smearing or slander to situational exposure in the wake of unpreparedness.
Censoring / silencing — can be anything ranging from talking over people or attempting to correct and humiliate them, to using social, situational or power dynamics, or derailing to deter or prevent them from being heard by others.
Confinement — is placing people in physical or situational spaces of restriction; limiting the ways in which they’re allowed to participate in a given context, or reality at large.
Exploitation — is keeping someone (or something) in a weakened or immobile state and condition so that they can be used to supplement or satisfy individual or group interests and needs.
Marginalization / dismissing — is to diminish a person’s presence, value and worth, so that they’re considerably removed from the line of thoughtful consideration.
So let’s run down a list of statements real quick that people often use in efforts to sanitize their attempts to punish others…
“That’s just my opinion! I keep it real! I tell people exactly what’s on my mind, and I don’t sugarcoat anything!” — No. You try to punish and injure people with your opinions, and then claim you’re doing it for their own good.
“I’m beating on and/or abusing you because I’m toughening you up! I’m making you a stronger person!” — No you’re not. You beat on and injure people because it gets you physically high.
“Somebody needs to humble/humiliate them for their own good!” — No. You want to see others humbled because you’ll get high off the experience of seeing them punished.
“Well, you messed up, so now you’re not getting any sex or attention from me until I decide to give you some.” — Yeah. You basically want to punish someone by withholding from them.
“Aw… You need to lighten up. It was just a prank!” — Nah. You wanted to hurt someone so that you could get high off of injuring them.
And see, I could populate this list for days and still never come close to covering all the ways in which people have learned to justify and nurture their dependencies on punishing things.
See, if people never get honest about their addictions to punishment, there’s no way for the world, or even this country to get better. The opioid crisis is not the only problem of addiction this nation is facing now. In fact, the most dangerous addiction America (and the west at large) is facing is an addiction to punishing things, which is fueling everything ranging from racism and political discourse to popular media products, tropes, story arcs and archetypes.
Addiction is a mechanical problem, and not one that can be solved with authoritative or moralistic thinking. Right now, our country and the world at large is being run by addicts who are strung out of their minds. And not just addicts to drugs, but addicts to hidden substances as well, like punishing, authority, convenience, comforts, opportunities, rewards and satisfaction.