Cynicism: An Endless, Useless, and Destructive Cycle.

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I was laying in bed the other night, completely awake, thinkin' bout stuff (you know, stuff), and I came to a sudden epiphany:

Cynicism is the result of people being cynics.

Let's start with the definition of cynicism as we know it:

An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.

Here's the thing: when people have a distrust of others, they'll have a tendency to make decisions that benefit themselves, and disregard how it effects others. When these decisions affect somebody negatively, they in turn grow to distrust others. It passes on and on, and suddenly, the whole world turns to shit because of people who think the whole world is shit.

Why is it then, that culture seems to glorify those who have negative and distrustful views of the world?

Take the Star Wars prequels; George Lucas wants us to relate to Anakin Skywalker's motivations and moods, but how can we when he's constantly moody and negative about childish things such as actually having to follow his master's better orders (not even to mention the sand issue). He just sees everything as horrible bile, and we're supposed to relate because...why?

Maybe I'm just irked because I'm in high school, and even though the majority of students at my school are upper middle class white dudes with no real problems of their own, myself included, everybody seems to think that they are the only sane people in a sea of mindless "sheeple" (I hate that fake word so much).

I don't want to parade the streets telling people how awesome the world is, I just wish that people would be less dismissive of happiness. I wish people would believe in sincerity. And for once, I just wish people would stop acting like they're the smartest cookies in the jar because they don't listen to mainstream pop, which somehow makes them better than everybody else for some reason.

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah.

TL;DR
Why do people seem to gravitate towards cynicism as a superior trait? And would the world be better if people were less cynical?

"better" is such a simple word...
I wouldn't necessarily say the world would be better with less cynics in it, doubt after all is an important feeling when dealing with people, after all without a little bit of cynicism we'd all be pretty damn gullible. But as always "everything is good in moderation" and cynics are just too doubtful and negative.

Keoul:
"better" is such a simple word...
I wouldn't necessarily say the world would be better with less cynics in it, doubt after all is an important feeling when dealing with people, after all without a little bit of cynicism we'd all be pretty damn gullible. But as always "everything is good in moderation" and cynics are just too doubtful and negative.

True true. Again, I'm not saying that some situations call for a more negative look on things (for example, tragedy is not the best time to be happy and cheery), but what I'm referring to is the attitude that thinking "the world is shit" is superior to positive sincerity.

I disagree. Many people call cynicism what's simply an aware of some of the bullshit in the world, and the mistrust that causes.

Now, you get people play-acting at it, of course, claiming the world is terrible but who'd be shocked and appalled if anything remotely bad happened to them personally.

But there is a lot that is insincere, we are bombarded with it in eveyr piece of advertising, every political speech, every fairytale on TV.

The world would be horrid if it was full of only cynics or optimists.
Dreams and reality should really co-exist, but one should know that not all dreams become reality and the waking world isn't as happy-go-lucky perfect as they might imagine it to be. On the flipside, some amazing things couldn't be possible without dreams and the world is as much of a living hell as you make it out to be.

My optimism/cynicism fluctuates...but I really find it hard to trust people.
Too many wear a facade of smiles with a selfish ulterior motive behind the mask.
I've put on the mask before, but at least I can admit it. The greater powers that be help the poor souls who don't.

Also, I find it interesting to see that you think that people gravitate towards cynics or the process of how one becomes a cynic. I've found it to be quite the opposite, in that people gravitate towards people who seem optimistic and cynics are born from a culmination of personal experience and observations rather than the mere influence of another. If they agree with someone cynical than it just happens that they were a cynic themselves to begin with.

Captcha: don't stop
Good advice, I rather like my stance on things.

Dangit2019:
Maybe I'm just irked because I'm in high school, and even though the majority of students at my school are upper middle class white dudes with no real problems of their own, myself included, everybody seems to think that they are the only sane people in a sea of mindless "sheeple" (I hate that fake word so much).

Why has no one posted this yet?

image

xkcd to the rescue once again!

TL;DR
Why do people seem to gravitate towards cynicism as a superior trait? And would the world be better if people were less cynical?

This reminds me of the time that we had a discussion in English a few months back over Brave New World. We were supposed to tell how far humanity will go in the next 100 years.

I decided to take the unusual stance of being an optimist as everyone else decided to be utterly negative about the future.

And guess what. No one looked at the future the way I did. No one wanted to see good things. No one wanted medicine to be hyper-advanced. No one wanted to get new insights on how we could change the future. No one thought about the fact that in the future, a majority of us will be educated highly.

All everyone kept thinking about was the social aspect of life.

Take a moment and laugh. It makes no sense, I know. So, they say that the future sucks because it isn't what they dealt with on a pure social level? Are they saying that? Seriously?

I learned two things that day; one being that our (I'm 16, also in high school) age group has an obsession with being negative and that most of them are very selfish, if you know what I mean.

I also learned that cynicism is good, but not to the point where you become focused on one topic. I, myself, am a cynic. It doesn't mean that the world's the shittiest thing next to [insert generally shitty object agreed upon by people here].

Cynicism is never a replacement for the type of view you hold; it's supposed to be a counterpart to what you see. It should also never be over saturated, as then people just become ignorant.

Dangit2019:
I was laying in bed the other night, completely awake, thinkin' bout stuff (you know, stuff), and I came to a sudden epiphany:

Cynicism is the result of people being cynics.

Let's start with the definition of cynicism as we know it:

An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.

Here's the thing: when people have a distrust of others, they'll have a tendency to make decisions that benefit themselves, and disregard how it effects others. When these decisions affect somebody negatively, they in turn grow to distrust others. It passes on and on, and suddenly, the whole world turns to shit because of people who think the whole world is shit.

Why is it then, that culture seems to glorify those who have negative and distrustful views of the world?

Take the Star Wars prequels; George Lucas wants us to relate to Anakin Skywalker's motivations and moods, but how can we when he's constantly moody and negative about childish things such as actually having to follow his master's better orders (not even to mention the sand issue). He just sees everything as horrible bile, and we're supposed to relate because...why?

Maybe I'm just irked because I'm in high school, and even though the majority of students at my school are upper middle class white dudes with no real problems of their own, myself included, everybody seems to think that they are the only sane people in a sea of mindless "sheeple" (I hate that fake word so much).

I don't want to parade the streets telling people how awesome the world is, I just wish that people would be less dismissive of happiness. I wish people would believe in sincerity. And for once, I just wish people would stop acting like they're the smartest cookies in the jar because they don't listen to mainstream pop, which somehow makes them better than everybody else for some reason.

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah.

TL;DR
Why do people seem to gravitate towards cynicism as a superior trait? And would the world be better if people were less cynical?

Well if they don't want to be sheeple why are they doing what almost every western teenager does? because teenage rebellion is banal. specially in middle class white kids.

which is not to say cynicism isn't a valid stance, it is. And they might have good reason for it.

I prefer 'sceptical' rather than 'cynical' as it has less negative connotations. Cynical seems to imply you think the worst in people while sceptical carries a more neutral yet still investigative tone.

Well, quite frankly, I'm a cynic because life gave me enough reasons to believe that was the only smart way of doing things. Sure, some people have had it worse, but I had it pretty bad.

If the world proves me wrong some day, then I'll gladly stop being a cynic. Right now, however, I'd prefer to see bad things coming and be surprised if things work out than the other way around.

Being desperately gullible is not cool.
Being a little bit withdrawn and cynical shows that you are not taking life too seriously and therefore not a pawn in the system.

But I think you get past the point where "trying too hard" is not cool ant that with maturity you start to accept that it is ok to be trying hard.

It is just like xmas and easter. you grow out of it in your teens but end up wanting to do all that tree egg and sock thing all over again oonce you have a kid of your own.

I am pretty optimistic but I am slightly cynical at times, I am not gullible and I know life has it's rocky parts, but life has so much good to offer so I don't complain!

had an interesting talk with my brother and he made a good point..the internet it too hateful. often people have their claws out with no intention of trying to change minds or writing somthing thourght provoking..its just hate mixed in with "I'M BETTER THAN YOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!"

the articel in question:
http://thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=youre_not_a_nerd

then this also was kind of cool

another thing I think I heard Yahtzee vaugley say is to assume everyhting is shit untill proven otherwise...not to disrespect yahtzee or anything but what a fucking miserable existance...not only that its kind of cowardly in a way oh noes I can't be having my feelings hurt so I'll put on my cynacsm armour

That breaks down when you acknowledge that people have vested interests. For example I am cynical about my government's claim that the reason we mistreat refugees is to protect them. I can guarantee you that my government doesn't lock refugees away indefinitely because of my attitude. They do it because they're racist. The reason they won't let gay people get married isn't because "marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman", it's because they're pandering to the religious right. This isn't a "once bitten twice shy" thing because Australians once got fucked over by an influx of gay refugees. Some people are just bigots.

Vault101:
-

Awww, what a touching story about a bunch of racist scumbags harrassing a man.

Considering the society we've created, in which millions of people can get fucked (and are getting fucked over) over because of greed and deceit, it more advantageous to be at least somewhat cynical.

Cynicism or "being a cynic" is a combination of things. Someone who never trusts a stranger isn't instantly a cynic. It isn't even safe to say that he is "being cynical" by doing so.
Having a negative image of the world doesn't necassarily make you a cynic/cynical either.

Being a cynic isn't the same thing as being negative. Cynics are critical thinkers, who, because they state that human nature is always selfish, always try to find the selfishness in an action.

In my opinion, the world needs MORE cynics. People are too damn trusting with everything they see and hear, especially on television and on the internet. Cynics are critical thinkers and the school of thought is, in my eyes, a reaction to the naivety of the majority of people living on this earth.

Personally, I, for a big part, seperate my views when I look at mankind as a whole.
I believe mankind as a whole will always be driven by greed, money, power and selfishness and that everything that happens on the bigger scales (countries, governments etc.) happens out of a desire for one of those things.

However I -do- believe that on smaller scales, basically, the scale we live in, there is room for selflessness and "good", but NEVER on the larger scales.

Bottomline:
- Humanity as a whole will always be selfish, greedy, manipulative, "evil".
- Individuals still have the power to be "good", but the larger the scale, the more money is involved and morality goes out of the window and is replaced by greed.

Because it's better than being gullible/naive, which is the alternative. We're lied to in modern society a damn lot, by politicians and businesses, and a cynic will think critically and see downsides as well as upsides, but without expecting downsides you have less chance of finding them.

Well today we are often lied to in society by a variety of people. The news rarely shows anything good too. It can be to an advantage to be a little bit on the cycnical side. To be completely cynical I think is a bit foolish, for there is much good in the world and much good in people. To be withdrawn from it would be quite sad. In the words of Oscar Wilde:

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing"

I'm a cynic because I know what people are capable and can't trust their intentions... though that might also be my paranoia talking...

I'm a cynic when it comes to humanity and the state of the world as a whole, but I like individual people as much as the next guy. Individuals are complex and interesting and usually quite reasonable, but as soon as they become part of a group all of that goes, the group mentality become the most important thing...

All in all, I'm probably an anti-nihilist, if you had to pin down my exact worldview. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheAntiNihilist

It has served me well enough so far.

Dangit2019:
Cynicism: A Endless, Useless, and Destructive Cycle.

Cynicism is the result of people being cynics.

I disagree. Cynicism can be the result of many things, but it need not be endless and it is not automatically useless or destructive. For many people (I suspect most of the people folks in this thread are thinking of when they picture a cynic in their head), cynicism is merely a side-effect of puberty, a point on the spectrum of psychological development they have to go through in order to mentally become an adult. But most people outgrow it, usually when they reach the stage in life that they can take meaningful control of their lives and make choices that lead to being happy.

Also, reaching the stage where they can start families of their own in my experience leads a lot of people to optimism. Or at least an end to the cynical belief that everything is bad.

I don't want to parade the streets telling people how awesome the world is, I just wish that people would be less dismissive of happiness.

I think this may also be a side affect of being American/Western. One of the things I noticed very quickly when I studied in Japan for a semester was that Japanese university students generally looked happier than I was used to seeing American university students- even when Japanese university students also generally looked decidedly less "cool".

And for once, I just wish people would stop acting like they're the smartest cookies in the jar because they don't listen to mainstream pop, which somehow makes them better than everybody else for some reason.

I think you've hit the nail on the head here, which brings it all the way back to my initial comment about psychology. Cynicism is a tool for insecure teens to use to cope with the fact that they have to build a unique identity, are learning that the authority figures they used to respect are imperfect, and have increased pressures on them yet are not yet ready or able to take control of their own lives. Teenagers tend to be deeply insecure about their status compared to each other, so judging people by their musical tastes becomes yet another way they can invent a ranking system and imagine themselves as higher up the ladder.

Just take solace in the fact that in a few years none of that nonsense will matter.

Both Yahtzee and TotalBiscuit are influential Internet celebs, since they're both quite clearly intelligent, many a viewer wants to adopt their traits/aspects to become more like them, the defining ones being cynicism.

In a nutshell, people think that cynicism=intelligence, ergo, people will want to become cynical to seem intelligent (just like how fans of The Big Bang Theory try to act "nerdy" to seem hip/intelligent, based off of the characteristics of the characters).

I did adopt cynicism to seem clever, but when I had some introspective on my actions/traits, I saw nothing wrong with it; to quote Yahtzee:

"It's far easier to assume something will be shit than to be hopeful that it won't. That way, you'll get to feel superior to those who did the inverse, and you won't get your heart broken, and if a game isn't shit, then you've lost nothing"

And indeed it is.

Dangit2019:
And would the world be better if people were less cynical?

No I don't think so. I think the world works best when there is a mixture of be cynical and positive people. Having an unbalance of either can lead a country or business to disaster.
Look at what happened the financial sector as it trotted its way through an inflation bubble right into disaster. Anyone who stated that growth could not continue was discarded or called crazy. A little bit more cynicism would have been useful

Really liked this video on the subject from RSA Animate:

Whilst I like the quote, I do disagree with it. Nonetheless its an interesting quote:
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw

In my book, it's bad if you always just choose one extreme. There are good and bad things in the world, not just one or another. I don't like being overly cynical but the other end isn't much better. It's a mix that's best for me.

I guess the reason why some are so cynical, is because they used to think the world is great as kids or at least has a lot of good things but then they grow up and the world doesn't meet their expectations. They see all the bad things happening in the world and their lives don't always go the way they imagined it would go. At some point they mostly only see the bad things. The good things either aren't enough or they completely ignore them, some even always try to find negative aspects in positive things because in their new view, the world isn't good now it's supposed to be all bad.

Rylingo:

Dangit2019:
And would the world be better if people were less cynical?

No I don't think so. I think the world works best when there is a mixture of be cynical and positive people. Having an unbalance of either can lead a country or business to disaster.
Look at what happened the financial sector as it trotted its way through an inflation bubble right into disaster. Anyone who stated that growth could not continue was discarded or called crazy. A little bit more cynicism would have been useful

That was a good video. The thing is, what she's suggesting in that is realism; not a mixture of positive and negative people, but realist people. And I agree with that.

I'm not supportive of delusional positivity, I just wish people wouldn't have inherent negative and distrustful feelings simply because they'd too scared of the disappointment if the people they trust don't deliver. That's cowardly; not intelligent, not vigilant, but cowardly.

MeChaNiZ3D:
Because it's better than being gullible/naive, which is the alternative. We're lied to in modern society a damn lot, by politicians and businesses, and a cynic will think critically and see downsides as well as upsides, but without expecting downsides you have less chance of finding them.

Wow i only get two alternatives? Fuck me sideways what life cheat have i unlocked where im full of boundless optimism but also capable of examining views closely before i inject my optimism into them.

Id say by definition a cynic would try VERY hard to find a downside as well as an upside, and even go as far as to create some if none where to be found. Cynic != critical thinker. Cynic is about a negatively focused view. 99% of people sit somewhere in the middle of cynic and optimist to form what i call a "Rational human being" and most people who claim to be exclusively on either pole are definitely trying too hard to appear to be something for internet credit.

I feel the same as the OP. Overwhelming cynicism annoys me. It feels so... forced and childish. Ill concede shitty things make you negative but to be totally honest ive had some pretty damn shitty things happen to me and ive always thought that letting it break you forever is... weak. Its mean yeah but i cant help it. I feel like ive lost if i let stuff get me down and make me negative. So i dont let it. I dont want to sacrifice nice feelings like hope because im too scared of bad things happening. I refuse to live a lifestyle based on fear.

Internet cynicism and misanthropy is at times laughable and at best understandable. Cant see it being admirable in any way though. I cant see how anyone could stand to spend time with a hard line cynic.

Dangit2019:

I'm not supportive of delusional positivity, I just wish people wouldn't have inherent negative and distrustful feelings simply because they'd too scared of the disappointment if the people they trust don't deliver. That's cowardly; not intelligent, not vigilant, but cowardly.

I love you, have my babies. Ill quote this last thing because i totally agree. Cynicism to avoid pain is based on fear and cowardice. So afraid of disappointment or rejection that a person cannot enjoy the feeling of hope and excitement. It seems like a sad existence and i cant understand why any would envy it.

BiscuitTrouser:

I love you, have my babies.

It's just not meant to be.

A little cynicism is healthy, when it's enough to make you keep your eyes open and skeptical, just so long as you allow your mind to remain open and don't always assume the worst. Misanthropy, however, is definitely not a good mindset to have.

Indecipherable:
I prefer 'sceptical' rather than 'cynical' as it has less negative connotations. Cynical seems to imply you think the worst in people while sceptical carries a more neutral yet still investigative tone.

I 100% agree.

The way I see it, given what I've experienced and felt through my life, I'll be respecting of someone, I'll take them by their word, I'll be friendly with them but I'm also not going to immediately open myself to them. I'm not going to immediately trust everything they say until I feel comfortable with how they operate, their intentions, so on and so forth. Same with government figures and politicians, same with anyone, regardless of circumstances. People need to ask more questions rather than just accepting things said by those in powerful positions outright because you're "supposed" to. Or just befriending someone because they're popular but not seeing if they're actually a cool person. Problem is that it can be taken too far the other way and some will outright reject anyone and not attempt to give a person a chance before they seek and find flaws.

Cynicism, skepticism, suspicion, whatever you call it, is good in moderation.

I consider myself partially misanthropic, but I'm well aware of the hypocrisy of it all.

Being critical of things is not bad, but no one can put an actual measure on what is "too critical."

BiscuitTrouser:

MeChaNiZ3D:
Because it's better than being gullible/naive, which is the alternative. We're lied to in modern society a damn lot, by politicians and businesses, and a cynic will think critically and see downsides as well as upsides, but without expecting downsides you have less chance of finding them.

Wow i only get two alternatives? Fuck me sideways what life cheat have i unlocked where im full of boundless optimism but also capable of examining views closely before i inject my optimism into them.

Id say by definition a cynic would try VERY hard to find a downside as well as an upside, and even go as far as to create some if none where to be found. Cynic != critical thinker. Cynic is about a negatively focused view. 99% of people sit somewhere in the middle of cynic and optimist to form what i call a "Rational human being" and most people who claim to be exclusively on either pole are definitely trying too hard to appear to be something for internet credit.

I feel the same as the OP. Overwhelming cynicism annoys me. It feels so... forced and childish. Ill concede shitty things make you negative but to be totally honest ive had some pretty damn shitty things happen to me and ive always thought that letting it break you forever is... weak. Its mean yeah but i cant help it. I feel like ive lost if i let stuff get me down and make me negative. So i dont let it. I dont want to sacrifice nice feelings like hope because im too scared of bad things happening. I refuse to live a lifestyle based on fear.

Internet cynicism and misanthropy is at times laughable and at best understandable. Cant see it being admirable in any way though. I cant see how anyone could stand to spend time with a hard line cynic.

I'm not sure that anyone exists who hates everything. I was talking about not hypothetical supercynics, but people who tend to start with suspicion rather than acceptance. For example, a relative of mine came to me yesterday and said they'd read in a newspaper the TV uses almost as much power in standby as it does when it's on. This person is not cynical. I said "bullshit", looked it up and sure enough it was false in the vast majority of cases. I was being cynical.

I've been called either the most cynical optimist or optimistic cynic around.

I try to combine optimism with realism and surrealism. The first provides motivation, the second caution, and the third satisfies my unholy thirst for the confusion of others.

First and foremost, though, I must be a skeptic. Do not accept as true anything for which you do not have sufficient support. Just what might count as sufficient depends heavily on the cost of buying in to whatever the thing being sold might happen to be.

"I went to the store yesterday." This statement is low consequence enough that it can be accepted as probably true from anyone they you do not suspect of being a pathological liar.

"If elected, I will reduce taxes on X, and make up the loss be increasing taxes on Y." Might be acceptable, if the speaker's proposed change doesn't sound too farfetch'd.

"I did not stab that nun." This may require some very serious evidence-weighing.

"I can see the future!" Depending on what they're trying to convince you will happen, this is going to need to really effing heavy support before it can be accepted.

yes.
 
 
 
 
 
And don't forget:

thesilentman:

Why has no one posted this yet?

image

xkcd to the rescue once again!

This one too!
image

Happiness is a relative thing grounded on the personal level. Its easy to think that if we had less cynics the world would be a much brighter place. Its not false reasoning, but its not sound reasoning either. Happiness is so fickle and slippery that we as humans no matter how much we struggle to retain it will always forget it at some point in time because of our ability to adapt around us. Being eternally optimistic is as poisonous as being eternally pessimistic. A person normally has two choices either become one or the other, because being both is near impossible as the two ideas will always create friction, until finally one will win out. This is not to discourage people who are striving to find the balance, but it is the truth that you have to realize in order to straddle it.

Ultimately what I'm saying is that a person needs to truly understand the positives and negatives of both ideals in order to criticize them. High School is an awesome time on the personal front because you get these new and different thoughts, just know that life has a lot of twists and turns that make you question what is truly needed and what is not. /rant

Dangit2019:
Snip and

TL;DR
Why do people seem to gravitate towards cynicism as a superior trait? And would the world be better if people were less cynical?

This is due to MLP, isn't it? XD

Seriously though, I do understand what you mean, and I do agree with you... partly. I think that people should stop sitting back and complaining about how the world sucks. If it sucks so much, DO SOMETHING TO MAKE IT LESS SUCKY! That said, everyone should have a small, healthy dose of cynicism, just to A. Keep overtly optimistic, trusting people from being taken advantage of, and B. Keep people from being incredibly disappointed when things don't go well.

I myself am a "Realistic Optimist". I'm very well aware that things (and people for that matter) have a tendency to suck, but that doesn't keep me from hoping for the best and striving to make things better, even if it's on a small scale.

I used to be very cynical, like a lot of my peers, but then two or so years ago I decided to change my outlook, and am much happier for it.

Be positive, but don't be naive. Being extremely negative and cynical doesn't help anyone.

Somethin' a dear friend once told to me:

Cynicism is for teenagers

Pragmatism is for adults.

Think on it. :D

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