The Deeper Reason Why Cerebral “Aspie” Introverts Suffer In The School System

As a kid I was behind.

I didn’t have the social awareness of other kids my age, my physical coordination was terrible.  When other kids were getting started with stuff like piano lessons or soccer, I wasn’t remotely ready.
When all the other kids were riding bikes around the neighborhood I was still walking around.   In fact I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 14 years old.

My parents were scared to death thinking something was wrong with me looking for diagnoses, some tangible problem with a name.  I spent my entire youth being told I had a “disability.”

Then oddly enough as I neared puberty, the gap began to close.  By the beginning of high school, I was essentially functional, but still far from typical milestones in a teenager’s life.  I was closer to a late elementary stage of social development until I was in college.

Then through my twenties I began to gain traction and with every year grew stronger and began to pass people up.

Today at almost 30 years of age, I feel I’ve truly begun to come into my own.  Socially I feel competent and physically I’m well beyond the majority of my contemporaries.

In retrospect, I realize I experienced a lot of my difficulties because I simply had an atypical pattern of development.

At age 8, I was reading classics of literature and memorizing books on biology but couldn’t really hold a normal conversation or grasp unspoken social cues.

To develop certain capacities early on, sacrifices had to be made in other areas.

And if one wants to build a larger, more complicated structure, it simply takes longer to do it…

Nature always chooses the easiest, lowest investment solution to any given problem.

A creature is only strong, fast, or smart as the investment pays off.

More capabilities and complexity means longer gestation, smaller “litter” size, more calories to stay alive, longer time to grow to maturity.  All of these are great sacrifices when the ultimate goal is spreading genes.

I’ve come to understand that if one looks past PC nonsense that tells us everyone is the same, we quickly see that children develop at different rates, in different patterns.  We are each born with a plan that unfolds in stages.

The clear implication of this is chilling when we look at the uniform environment of mass compulsory schooling.

For most, this sort of system is relatively innocuous but for any sort of outlier, it’s a potentially deadly threat.

It dawned on me that a “smart” kid following a slower development path sent to mass schools is like a cub being thrown into a pit full of wolves…It quickly and elegantly explains much of my life.

In schools, a late development outlier spends his entire young life at the mercy of those early apex predators whose breed’s plan is a race to mature first and get first dibs on mates and resources.

The funny thing is, I always instinctively recognized their kind as my natural enemy in the wild but adults, the ideas adults liked contained nothing that could help me make sense of this.

After years of life experience, I know to tailor any recommendation to people’s differing needs.  I would wholeheartedly tell parents of an average kid to send their kid to public schools but definitely encourage parents of an outlier kid to consider homeschooling or some other more supportive and protective schooling environment.

Parents who send that cerebral yet oblivious and clumsy kid to survive in the crowd are unwittingly betraying and abandoning their own at the time of greatest possible vulnerability.

Many don’t make it out alive and many that do are effectively destroyed while still in the bud, their potential contribution expunged from the human race, their plan likely erased from the gene pool.
A uniform mass society entails both “soft” persecution and genocide.

Mass schools operate by the same philosophy as a corn field.  The goal is to create a monoculture and any specimens not up to the task are discarded.

Outliers are a minority by definition, but we must also remember, that virtually anything remarkable must come from outliers by that same token. 

Herein lies much of the difference between the performance of one society against another… To what extent do they suffer outliers to exist?

I will conclude with this:  If I suppose my particular plan entailed higher investment, higher risk, and slower maturity, I have an implicit duty to nature to make it pay off.  Else, what I am ought to be extinct.

Introverts, Atheism, and Nihilism

There’s an enemy anyone given to prolonged thought has to face.

Sooner or later the question of purpose and meaning looms like a wall.

If all is wiped away when we die, what is the point?  Is life worth it, or just a cruel joke?

Time and again I’ve heard smart Christians present an unmoved mover, a first cause outside of time, as “proof” of a specifically Christian God.

All this really tells us is this universe had to be started from a cause outside the rules that govern our universe.  If that means God, at best we can assume a Spinozan God that’s more of a force of nature than a human personality directly involved in our lives.  And an afterlife or reincarnation?  I can think of no reason to assume such a thing is true.
It makes the most sense to assume this is our one chance since we do not know otherwise.

It’s easy to fall into the trap that atheism is the “rational” approach while anyone religious is simply deluding themselves.  It seems at first to make sense.

But then you have to live your life by the values you have chosen…

Atheist “humanists” like to point out that lack of religion doesn’t cause them to go out and start randomly being evil.  They often live by a moral code.

The trouble is that strong atheism must reduce to nihilism.  One cannot hold moral values if one explicitly believes in a universe without purpose or meaning.  Nothing can be good or bad in such a universe.  Strangling puppies is no better or worse than winning the lottery.  Life is no better than death.

Here, the supreme irony of moral atheists becomes clear.  Despite professing atheism they mostly continue to stick to Judeo-Christian moral laws.  They don’t practice what they preach…because if they did, it would destroy them.

The interesting thing is one cannot be an atheist…at least not for real.  I was inspired to make this post when a reader named luciferslibrarian asked me this:

So I am curious – you mention that you have used philosophy to arrive at meaning. I am an introvert whose biggest problem has always been that I don’t see meaning in anything. The older I get, the worse it gets. When I was younger, I was far more motivated and creative; driven even. Now I find getting started on the smallest tasks almost insurmountable, because I don’t see the point. Most people I know take solace and find meaning in friends and family, but as an introvert with a less than stellar relationship with my family, the social path is not really for me. I also know that toiling in obscurity for some higher purpose is kind of a pipe dream. Can you shed any light?

I replied:

Yes! The biggest problem we have to face is the challenge presented by the yawning nothing of nihilism.

I approach it something like this:

The adoption of nihilism is pretty much guaranteed to destroy civilizations and hamper the progress of individuals, to trick them into living a directionless cursed half life until they finally die.

Nihilism seems to make sense based on what we know, but if we implement it, it’s unquestionably destructive.
As I see it, living by nihilism is against the observable laws of our universe. It doesn’t work. In this sense it is objectively false.

Also, even nihilists don’t really truly act on nihilism. The logical thing to do if you’re a nihilist is to be unaware of the problem of nihilism. That knowledge only causes pain and dissonance and even if it’s the truth, who cares if it has no meaning anyway. Better to be like an insect in the field playing out its role as a biomachine, never doubting.

You can’t even be a conscious nihilist or atheist and really be consistent!

If nothing has meaning, we might as well kill ourselves, start a party binge to drown out the knowledge of our fundamental irrelevance, or have some of our brain removed to remove the pain inflicted by ennui.
Yet no one does the logical thing…

A self professed strong atheist or nihilist is a liar. They clearly continue to believe in some kind of meaning or higher purpose. They can say what they want, but what they do says it all.

Since meaning is a law of existence for a sentient being, we might as well either completely accept that or self destruct.

Faced with a choice…I chose meaning.

At least I chose to follow meaning.  It’s a battle that never ends for a person of awareness.  That creeping feeling of pointlessness and despair is an adversary that’s always there, waiting for an opening.  It’s the price we must pay to be aware.

It’s a fearful thing to face and those who can avoid it through distractions usually do.

I’ve spent some time just thinking about this post, because I know from experience, there’s few greater threats to an introvert’s life than the triumph of meaninglessness within.

Often isolated, without any sources of fulfillment in the material world, many of us don’t make it.  I am convinced that confronting the problem of nihilism is something that can save lives.  Asking those questions without a doubt played a huge role in saving my life.

Far from a dramatic conversion to orthodox religion, I’ve come to see things in a way that diverges from both atheists and theists.

Consulting both reason and my intuition, I’ve long since come to conceive of “God” as something closer to that Spinozan force of nature.  It doesn’t have a mind or personality exactly nor is it remotely human.

Logically, the best way to understand its nature is to observe nature’s workings.

For the most part, it seems to be an impartial thing, but it does establish certain laws that govern our universe…

For years after having rejected strong atheism I was vexed.

Many having gone through the same process as I did become religious.

But all my life I had marveled how absolute morality legislated by a deity tends to lead to hypocrisy and ambiguity in interpretation.

What’s more, “absolute” morals often backfire when “good” people restrain themselves and others happily take advantage of them.

If religious moral law isn’t consistent with observable reality, then atheists with their satirical Flying Spaghetti Monster make an excellent point.  If God’s law turns out to be arbitrary in implementation, the 11th commandment might as well be Thou Shalt Not Tie Thy Shoes.
We’re left with an absurd nothing that reduces to Nihilism!  Orthodox religions need an afterlife to “solve” this problem!

So a key requirement of a life-preserving belief system for a thoughtful person is that it must make sense within observable reality…

At this point, Taoism with its ‘Way’ provided some key inspiration.

There are observable laws of the universe that move us along effortlessly when we follow them and crush us when we fight them.

We see this everywhere in the natural world and in our lives as human beings.

From this perspective, lack of meaning simply violates a timeless law.

If we must either hold to purpose or perish, it is clear what we must do…
Meaning becomes effectively self-evident because we cannot exist without it!

Since finding a way to help nullify the threat of nihilism I’ve since used this basic premise to create the values I live by.  It has served as a genuine map telling me what I ought to do next rather than being a burdensome absolute law that spites the nature of reality in hopes of a better hereafter.

Television and the Introvert

To the introvert, the TV is an enemy.  The nasal cadence and pitch of TV voices appeals to Loud people. It sounds like a rapid, relentless staccato.  It destroys local patterns of speech and makes millions talk in lockstep.    I’ve noticed those who belong often like to do things or even sleep with the TV on for background noise.  It’s the very voice of mass society’s hive mind itself singing to them and soothing them.  To the outsider, the TV is the very voice of that great Tyrant God.

If you would determine someone’s world view and perceived place in society, it is easy to simply watch their attitude towards the TV.  Few other devices so effectively symbolize the mass experience of the 20th century: the collective hive mind talking down to a crowd that can’t talk back.

As an introvert, I love to see how the collaborative, egalitarian discourse of the internet has begun to displace the big brother television. It is like seeing a false idol toppled and cast down.

Alas, with a new age comes new enemies.  In some ways, “social networking” sites like facebook are even more insidious and invasive than 20th century mass media.
The look on people’s faces when you tell them “I’m not on facebook” says it all.

Plato: Introverts Should Rule

Thousands of years ago, the Greek philosopher, Plato recognized that certain types of people were more prone to deep and objective reflection, more likely to be guided by reason and knowledge than by the passions.

Having made this observation, he wrote of a hypothetical society ruled by a carefully groomed group of thoughtful “philosopher kings” supported by a class of middle management officers in their rule over a vast majority of every day laborers, businessmen, and soldiers.

Today, our first reaction is to scoff at this “elitist” oligarchic vision.  After all, in a world ruled by capitalism it is precisely people of commerce who are enshrined as the rulers and exemplars of “excellence.”

And the result today is exactly the same as Plato observed in a thriving commercial superpower like Ancient Athens:
A society run by business owners for the sake of business becomes a tragic stampede, where all but the strongest are trampled underfoot.
A society run by the workers or by the soldiers, he observed around 400 BC, does no better.

Plato knew the shortcomings of living in an ivory tower and had a healthy respect for those who go out in the real world to conquer, accomplish, make their fortune, or simply produce goods everyone needs, but also understood that these people of action are ruled by the passions and are not the types of people who stop and think.

He understood the state ought to be steered by contemplative introverts who can understand the big picture, act on abstract principles that apply to society as a whole, be able to know and pursue goals larger than themselves, see beyond immediate emotional reactions when engaged in statecraft, negotiating with other powers, making decisions that could get thousands killed or lead to total ruination.

He knew that the bronze souls who know only competition with co-workers, the Joneses across the street, trying to attain what other people think they should have, could never have independence of mind and objectivity to lead the state to anything other than corruption, despotism, rampant poverty and disease, and conquest by neighboring powers under more competent rulers.

Nevertheless, Plato’s final and most challenging test for would-be philosopher kings is very telling…To go out in the world of ordinary people and carve out a place in their harsh environment, struggling to make money, pay the rent, competing for bare survival.
After all the years of special training and testing a philosopher king gets, the final and most important lesson is that high ideas don’t pay the bills, to learn the animal cunning of the natural socialite and the ways of commerce.

I suppose I’m in some place in life like that right now. 
I’ve reflected and studied long enough that I have a vision, now I’m at a point where I must act, go out and try to make what I want to see into reality.

 For the last year, I’ve lived in a major city managing to pay my way, dealing constantly with all types of people, strangers who owe me nothing, trying to get the best deal I can for myself, my wellbeing often hanging on the outcome.

I’ve been forced to learn social skills and street smarts I never developed while spending years in isolation reading books.
I’m at a crucial point, locked in battle and the tide may turn either way.

I may fall in battle—Plato implies the attrition rate of the final test is very high, but I think mostly of the rewards of coming out on the other side, when I have learned the ways of commerce and obtained the tools I need to begin working my will on the world.

At the end of a long road, Plato envisions a complete man possessing deep knowledge, ruled by a higher purpose, but also wise in the ways of the world…this is the person who is finally ready to assume the highest responsibilities and truly be able to change the world for the better.

Tolkien the Introvert

J.R.R Tolkien was the sort of man who tended to stick close to an adored few friends and family. He was an academic who spoke awkwardly and had an uncharismatic presence. He loved obscure subjects that no one else cared about. Yet within himself he developed a whole world that no competitive, self-promoting socialite could ever think to imagine.

Indeed, his project was not tailored to meet popular demand. It was written first for family, friends, and most of all, for his own satisfaction.
From these insular motives comes a great deal of its power.
There is something haphazard and unpolished about Tolkien’s storytelling. His pace is slow, the direction of his plot imprecise and shifting. It’s always given me the feeling that I’m sitting with him by a fireplace and he’s prodigiously making it up or recalling it from memory right there on the spot.
Tolkien had a natural grasp of the Subtle way of thought. He understood the charm of imperfection. As a result he sounds more like a storyteller, less like an author.
The details we learn aren’t necessarily relevant to the plot. A lot of that stuff is just for fun. You have to understand that playful impulse, that curiosity and creativity for its own sake to enjoy the story to its fullest.

Tolkien never intended to single handedly resurrect the mythological paradigm in Western society, but his stories obviously spoke to a deep human need
Tolkien understood viscerally that no society could be grounded without legend and mythology—narratives that establish a meaningful continuity that extends far into the past and which will extend into the future. A continuity that invites us to be a part of something greater than our own fleeting lifespans.
Tolkien was a true introvert and his mythology tells us something of a sense of isolation and alienation in a rapidly changing world.

When one encounters interpretations of the Lord of the Rings, the first thing people always seem to look for is allegorical references to the World Wars.
To do so is to fundamentally misunderstand the man was about.

Though Tolkien writes epic stories about great nations, the geo-politics of our world were never his overriding concern.
He was there in the trenches during WWI and lived through WWII, yet he never wrote obsessively about futility and disenchantment as did so many other writers from his ‘lost generation.’ Nor did he seem to perceive the opponents of his nation as evil forces out of some sense of nationalistic zeal.

Many of us who are familiar with Tolkien’s stories dismiss most of the real world allegorical interpretations, seeing instead reflections on the nature of good and evil. After all, the ethical questions posed by Gyges’ invisibility ring have been around since ancient Greece:
If a man named Gyges finds a magic ring that makes him invisible and unaccountable for his actions, would he still be moral?
Should he still be moral?
The Ancient Greeks believed that Gyges should resist his desire for power. Though external laws and punishments do not apply to him, the real danger is being reduced to a warped animal state:
Gyges need not fear going to jail, but by casting away restraint, he becomes prisoner to an ever growing addiction to power.
In the Lord of the Rings, there is a contrast between the Bagginses and Gollum, Sam and Boromir when faced with the temptation of the ring. The corrupting influence of power is clearly a theme, but it is not the theme that rules them all.

Tolkien’s works, though generally upbeat, have an elegiac message constantly hinted at: the old world with its legends, tradition, and magic is dying…

In this old world, with all its epic events, it is often a Hobbit, someone small, reluctant, and shy who has the formidable inner strength to save the day.

In the Hobbit homeland, the Shire we see an idealized representation of traditional village life, sheltered from events that shake the rest of the world.
The Hobbits work hard and grow their own food, but there is no rush or sense of toil.
There are no strangers in the Shire. All the families are known to one another, as are their reputations.

In the new world, our ‘age of men,’ traditional culture is dying out. It would seem there is no longer a place for these little people. Tolkien tells us those few who survive will be forced into hiding.
It’s a world where you have to compete to survive amidst a faceless crowd.
A world in which even friendships are contingent upon social status and money.
A fast-paced world in which no one has time for second breakfast.

It is not the clash of nations or moral quandary that seems to preoccupy Tolkien, but deep changes within society itself:

-The elves, the epitome of ancient virtues are forced to leave the continent by the oncoming forces of change. They embody a sense of mystery and reverence that cannot exist in a world where everything is explained away as mundane phenomena, where predictability and repetition are the aims of most endeavors.

-The ents are losing a bit more of their vitality with every passing year. Eventually they will all be ordinary sedentary trees. Their abhorrence for the cutting of trees and of machines echoes Tolkien’s personal disapproval of industrialized mass culture.

-The dwarves, stubborn, honorable, followers of principle live in a post-apocalyptic world, their underground cities overrun and in ruins. The new world won’t need their craftsmanship. Their skills will be replaced with machines. They too are doomed to fade away and be forgotten.

Humans alone are to be the future but they are fickle and perhaps prone to evil without the wisdom of the ancient races to guide them.

In the Orcs, we see a polar opposite of Tolkien’s values, a deliberate perversion and antithesis of the elves. In their race we can see his worst fears come true.

Most often, the Orcs are depicted as a screaming, faceless mass-produced mass(it is implied they might be manufactured rather than born). They move and act only as groups. They have little sense of individual agency or self. Beyond instant gain and self-promotion, they have no personal initiative. There are no Orc heroes. Their leaders rule by pure coercion. Bonds of honor and loyalty are absent. At all levels of the Orc hierarchy, there is constant, fierce competition, even for trivial scraps. Their whole society is mechanical by nature. Their armies move inexorably and in great numbers but with no sense of spirit, driving values, or purpose.
Ultimately, they’re all just obeying the will of the big boss and would be unable to act decisively without him. In every way, their society, to the extent it can be called a society is held together only through the exercise of naked power.
Furthermore, Orcs in true contrast to elves have no concept of beauty, sanctity, reverence, or mystery. Their world view is literal, pragmatic, joyless, relentless. They are devoid of creativity and imagination.

This Orcish culture tells us something of how Tolkien perceived our emerging new world. A world in which everything that made life worth living was under attack and an Orcish sort of life and world view becoming predominant.

His fantasy universe was not so much a direct allegory as it was a personal reaction to social change. Tolkien was stubborn. A devout catholic, he persisted in using Latin at mass even as everyone else switched to English.
In his personal world, he persisted with the conventions of ancient Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Celtic legends.
Middle Earth would seem in part to have been his personal defense, his stand against the overwhelming forces of modernity.
Indeed, Tolkien tells again and again the story of a few brave individuals in seemingly hopeless opposition to insurmountably numerous and powerful enemy forces.
Dying out and coming under overwhelming assault from all sides is a pervasive theme of Tolkien’s mythology.

As an introvert perpetually at odds with the mass society, Tolkien’s besieged defender mentality speaks deeply to me. Especially powerful for me is Tolkien’s conviction that the outwardly modest but inwardly strong amongst us can prevail against a monolithic mass no matter the odds. Tolkien is one of my heroes.
He may have been one of the last hobbits who could dare live out in the open. He had the good fortune to make his way into the relatively tolerant environment of the university. Without his job as an academic, it’s hard to imagine that Tolkien would ever have had the opportunity to pursue his eclectic interests.
He probably would have been crushed as others like him no doubt were(and are).

When I first read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings as a kid, it was just a great story, but even then when I wasn’t worried in the least about analyzing, I somehow felt Mr. Tolkien was on my side.
Now, I look to Lord of the Rings as a protest against an increasingly Loud society.
It is a project that openly defies the collective reality through the creation of a new world with new languages and societies. Everything about it, the world building, the con-langing, the plot tangents, the archaic tone, the emphasis on inner integrity over outer attributes, the lack of calculated mass appeal and shameless scraping to get to the top – it has all the ingredients for being deemed “a waste of time” or “self-indulgent” according to the conventional social understanding. Indeed, Tolkien’s works are more heretical than ever in an age defined by zero-sum popularity contests.

Negative Charisma

A friend of mine was once wondering what stats we would have if we were D and D characters.  We supposed we might have strengths of 12 or so and less than impressive dexterity.  When it came to charisma… My friend stopped and thought for a moment.  “You probably have negative charisma.” He concluded.  I definitely agreed with him.  Never in my life had I stood out and taken over a group of any kind.  Furthermore, I had a special talent for getting people to dislike me without any effort at all.  I’d look back and wonder what I’d done to piss them off.  Negative charisma seemed the best explanation.

Over time, I became better versed in social conventions but the idea of an opposite to the classic charismatic personality stuck with me.  I eventually started thinking of it as a virtue.  Something different than merely being disagreeable, something more than being the  sunny, charming, crowd pleaser that everyone seems to worship.

‘Beware the charismat’ I sometimes told myself.  It was a warning against the golden boy or girl of the hour who walks into the room and mesmerizes everyone.  A charismat is perfect in their mannerisms and dazzling in their conduct.  They are too good to be true, almost certainly disingenuous.  They lack the most important virtue: a flaw.  The charismat is the polished contrived sort of leader that thrives off of mass media in Western nations.

For a Subtle person, the most charismatic and inspirational people are those who act strange and awkward by the standards of Western society, who speak quietly rather than ostentatiously, who know how to share the stage rather than dominate, who know how to collaborate rather than compete.

A truly inspirational person does not conceal all their flaws and does not reveal all their strengths.  The inspirational person is calm, matter of fact,  never boastful, never sanctimonious, never patronizing.

To the Subtle  person, eccentricities are one of the most endearing elements of the human character and figure strongly into the personality of someone inspirational.

Negative Charisma is about substance over form.  A true introvert finds a speaker with a weak voice or a stammer to be inspirational if there is solid expertise, knowledge, and insight behind their words.  It is not about the means of delivery but the content delivered.

One who has negative charisma strives to be underestimated in order to select against those who understand only what is aggressively, outwardly flaunted.  It seemed to me that the fulfillment of one with negative charisma might come in a moment of vindication:  When the Golden person overextends, underestimates and is confronted by strength where they expected only weakness and submission as usual.  In such a moment, a charismat would be exposed with imperfections before their adoring crowd.  The first instance of resistance and refutation to the seemingly unstoppable force of their personality would break their power.   One with negative charisma would prevail as the Golden person was cast down by former worshipers.

Those with Negative Charisma never put themselves on a pedestal.  They never set out to be the strongest, best liked, most charming person.    They have no need to maintain a public image.  Their object is never to move all the crowd but to speak to the most thoughtful persons within  it.  The moment of vindication arrives when one who sits powerfully but precariously on the shoulders of a multitude throws their strength against one who is alone but immovable.

Extroverts and the Concept of ‘Deserval’

We turn on the TV and encountering the concept is inevitable:

“I deserve it.” says a waifish, urban thirty-something woman as she justifies buying that expensive dress or that decadent slice of raspberry chocolate cheesecake in the store window.

“Why pay more? We’ll give you the low price you deserve!” says the affable fortyish car salesman with a silver buckle and cowboy hat during the commercial break.

When we turn off the TV encountering the concept is inevitable:

Most extroverts seem to have a concept that there are things they ‘deserve:’

Lower prices, a raise, free health care, flexible mortgage rates, a pension, a secure retirement, a facial, a new set of power tools, disposable income, a stable career, honest politicians……….

How do they decide what they deserve?  Why do they deserve it?  Isn’t the whole idea of deserving completely subjective and fluid?  Another TV cliche comes to mind:

Henchman: Master, I brought you the power crystal as you commanded!  (hands it over)

Cardboard Cutout Villain:  Ah, finally!  I have it now.  Now I will give you exactly what you deserve!

*Henchman greedily anticipates goodies right up to the moment Villain pointlessly kills him with the power crystal*

As an introvert I looked to history and to the people around me without finding any sensical answer.  I was confused.  Surely the concept of deserving was entirely meaningless.  No one gets what they want just because they decide they deserve it!  Why would anyone actually be swayed or flattered by a sycophant assuring you that you ‘deserve’ more?  Why would someone justify their actions with ‘deserval.’  What do they see in the whole empty idea of deserving something?

I got an inkling when I for a time interacted with kids in a classroom setting.  The people I was working for insisted I give the kids points for answering questions in class and taking away points when they misbehaved or didn’t turn in homework.  There was an entire elaborate system on the board for everyone to see with a tally of total points for every kid who passed through the room in the course of a day.  The kids had created an entire system of social prestige around these point rankings that they took very seriously.

Children have a very strong sense of a primal, tribal level sense of social justice.  They would be horrified if they thought one of the students deserved a point and I hadn’t given it.

When given an extra point on accident, even the beneficiary would instantly come forth and tell me to take away the undeserved point.

The kids always screamed for the worst possible punishment for anyone they saw breaking the rules.  When punished themselves, they accepted it glumly but without question.  As much as they hated punishment, they seemed to concede that they deserved it.

I realized that most of these children, especially the extroverted ones carry some semblance of this tribal level concept of social justice into adult life.

I began to realize I was rather strange for not having an intuitive grasp of ‘deserve.’  Upon further reflection I realize that the whole idea ceased to have meaning for me long ago during my own childhood.  Living as an outsider from the outset, I took plenty of punishment just by virtue of being insufficiently protected from the pent up malice of others.   It was clear I hadn’t done anything bad to anger those who gave me difficulty.  There was no reason for any of it.  Whether I deserved or didn’t deserve had no meaning at all.

As an introvert, I was never truly part of the tacitly understood justice system that governed most of the other children.  Partly because of my fundamental personality and predispositions, partly because of the isolation created by my predispositions, I never fully acquired the concept of ‘deserval.’  In absence of this tribal justice, I viewed the school world around me in terms of power relationships.  Bullies didn’t deserve to have power.  They had power because they were able to take power.  Really quite simple.  I also had an inkling at an early age that bullies would never treat insiders the same way as outsiders.  They would even be quite deferent to someone higher ranking.  Was there any reason the people the bullies respected deserved respect?  Not really.  They just had more power.

A group of kids who knew each other in a structured classroom environment functioned well using their inborn senses of deserval.   The point system I had to use made abundantly clear how every kid in the classroom was aware of the exact prestige level of every other kid.  Each kid had an astoundingly precise mental tally of what every other kid deserved or didn’t deserve in class.  Their feelings of justice and injustice were visceral and resulted in emotional protest whenever there was the slightest breach.

Now let’s look at these kids as adults.  Most of adult life takes place outside of a structured classroom and they live in a society full of millions of strangers.  The tribal level deserval impulse runs amok in this environment.  When most people they meet have outsider status, they are not subject to tribal ethics.  Furthermore everyone needs to compete to get ahead.  Even people who aren’t strangers are often competitors.  As pressure increases, everyone has to work hard for survival and for prestige.  When people work hard just to make it, the deserval meter goes right off the charts.  However, they’re hard pressed to find anyone who will acknowledge the fullness of what they think they deserve. There’s no impartial chief or arbitrator keeping track of points on the board.  Most adults get cheated out of what they deserve.  The daily flouting of their intuitive systems of justice makes them increasingly sure that they deserve compensation while others deserve punishment.  Thus getting what they deserve by any means becomes justified on the most deeply visceral level.  Since others do not even seem to acknowledge the intuitive justice system, they are outsiders who do not need to accommodated or given consideration anyway.

This ‘justice gap’ attitude seeps into all of life until a Surface person sincerely believes they deserve to eat raspberry chocolate cheese cake without paying the consequences of eating it.  On the most primal level, deserving is about compensation for the crushing pressure and wrongs inflicted by an unjust life.  When ‘compensation’ is inevitably canceled out by consequences, the Surface person has been cheated yet again of getting any closer to a measure of tribal justice.

The deep and unobtainable nature of this compensation fantasy makes it ideal content for advertising.  What better way to reach people than to promise to soothe their battered egos, to promise to scratch that itch they can never quite seem to reach, to relieve the hurt that nothing seems to cure?