Mike Cernovich and Achilles

I’ve noticed two or three times now, in my reading around the alt-right, some variation on:

He [Cernovich] is a genius at social media

perhaps offered up by the writer as a gesture towards even-handedness, surely a difficult impression to give when your subjects are so relentlessly awful. The assertion is at least partially true though; there’s a never ending supply of internet shitheads with basically the same repulsive views, but very few besides Cernovich command such a large audience. “Genius” is a bit strong, but he is very good at social media. He’s almost certainly better at social media than I am at anything.

Which raises a question: given his brilliance, would I want to be Mike Cernovich? Definitely not for the reasons he might cite: I don’t want a gorilla mindset. I don’t mind if people don’t think I’m an alpha. I don’t care that Mike can lift more weights than me, or gets laid more often. (Okay, I would like to get laid more often, but I’m not dumb enough to believe that having sex with a different person every day is going to bring me happiness for more than a few weeks. Months tops.). I definitely don’t want his power to command a large audience—I don’t want the responsibility. So no, I don’t want to be Mike Cernovich, because I’m not already Mike Cernovich—the things he’s good at he ascribes value to because he’s good at them. But I would like to be as good at something as Mike is at social media.

Now suppose I already were Mike Cernovich, and I had tens of thousands of people shouting me down, telling me to stop doing the thing I’m really good at, better at than most people are at anything. What then? Would it not be lonely? Achilles is really good at killing but I’ve always read his life as a tragedy.1 Can I tell Mike to stop? Would I be able to stop doing something that I was great at if everybody told me it was harmful? What if lots of people told me it was harmful but lots more told me it was great? I’m not sure. Actually I’m pretty sure that if enough people told me I was doing great I’d probably keep on doing it and rationalise away the dissent. I’m not leadership material.

  1. Something funny about writing this is imagining Cernovich reading it. I’m 95% sure all he’d take from it is the compliment; he’s great at social media, so great actually, people are comparing him to Achilles. The Achilles of social media! Drinking delight of battle on the ringing plains of twitter dot com. ↩︎

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