I watched a series of YouTube videos by a young woman who is travelling alone across the world in a Land Rover converted into a camper. Yes, it sounds like one of those “conquer your fears, get killed” things, but one thing in particular made me go out on a rant.
At one point, she almost lost a wheel because she didn’t tighten the screws enough, because she was being a strong independent woman and did it herself instead of having a mechanic do it. Then she spent half the video showing how she’s being brave and forward-thinking, and not allowing fears to constrain her, and she’s going to just look forward and not think about the past and waste time thinking “what if”.
The rant I exploded into was “Yeah, that’s such a great idea, it’s good that you didn’t think about anything because your fears and doubts might have motivated you to have the vehicle checked thoroughly for other easily preventable things that might strand you in the middle of a desolate road through the northern wilderness, and that would be such a bad thing, to have your fears rule you. Things such as that loose and corroded electrical connection to the starter motor solenoid, that finally fell off later, exactly in the middle of nowhere, and you had to depend on pure dumb luck of having a guy with another Land Rover close by, and having him fix it.”
I’m trying to identify what is it exactly that’s pissing me off there, and I think it’s the “positive thinking” attitude, or, as I would put it, dealing with issues by refusing to think about them because that causes stressful emotions, and when shit actually happens you “solve” it by making helpless female in distress vocalisations and have someone rescue you so that you can be a strong independent woman successfully dealing with adversity again.
Let me tell you how I approach potential problems, in my negative way that doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s emotions, starting with mine. I make a list of things that would strand me in deep shit if they happened, and I especially focus on things that would leave me in worst shit and would cause the worst emotions, and I identify weaknesses in my position, plans and so on. Then I see if anything can be done about it. If nothing can be done about it, I shrug and go on, because it is pointless to worry about things you can’t influence. For instance, if an asteroid or a nuclear bomb strikes me, I’m dead and there’s nothing I can do about it. However, if electricity goes out for a day, or a week, that’s another matter entirely. Also, if someone hits my car with an RPG and blows it up, it’s a freak event and I can’t prepare for it or do anything about it. However, if I have bald tyres and there’s strong rain and I lose control due to aquaplaning, that’s something I can influence. I can always have good tyres on my car, I can check tyre pressure regularly, and I can adjust speed according to the conditions on the road. Basically, I draw a tree of possibilities and I simply prune the branches that are out of my control, because worrying about those is a waste of effort and stressing about them is pointless. However, it is very much worth the effort to stress over things where I can attenuate or outright prevent problems.
Sure, you can extend this attitude too far and constrain your actions excessively because you see too many things that could possibly go wrong, so you end up not doing anything or going anywhere. The other extreme is being so open-minded your brain falls out, like those people who go on backpacking trips across dangerous areas and news of them being found dead is not really even news at this point, because it happens so often, and this is caused by all this “let’s push your limits” propaganda on social media, where people fail to perceive how those “bold adventurers” are in essence just idiots who regularly fuck up and then have to depend on other people to pull them through. This makes for interesting social media content, but if you make it a lifestyle, you eventually run out of luck and you make the news. Every year we have stupid tourists of this kind going poorly prepared into the Velebit mountain here in Croatia and the mountain rescue service ends up saving their stupid arses. They don’t bring enough water, they dress optimistically and, basically, they all act like stupid children who think that the world is here for their entertainment and adventures and anything dangerous would be “unthinkable” because it causes unpleasant emotions, and so you just don’t think about it and it will all be fine. It’s similar with women who go out alone in the night and think it’s fine because they are wrapped in a bubble of safety caused by thinking they have a “right” not to get raped and robbed. Guess why the prisons are full, dumbass? Because you don’t have a right not to get raped and robbed. It’s just that the state will prosecute and imprison the guy who beat you up and fucked you for hours, then took your phone and wallet and slit your throat for good measure. You have the right to have your murderer/rapist/robber prosecuted, if they can find him.
I get really weirded out when people say that nuclear war is “unthinkable”, which they then translate into “impossible”, and then proceed to act as if they solved that problem and they can provoke a nuclear superpower all they want, because of course there won’t be a nuclear war because that possibility is “too horrible to consider”. Guess what, dumbass: things too horrible for you to consider happen every day. People live their entire lives in ways that are too horrible for you to consider. Your failure to consider very realistic possibilities that cause you to experience strongly unpleasant emotions doesn’t make those possibilities go away; in fact, it actually increases the probability of those events taking place. Not considering the option of being slowly eaten alive by a bear and proceeding to go to a camping trip alone and unarmed doesn’t make you immune to the outcome you found “unthinkable”, it actually makes the statistical intersection of your life and that outcome bigger.