the wheel of fortune, Saṃsāra, and why our leaders are sociopaths

a lot of people are sharing the video of this guy who won ten thousand bucks on wheel of fortune.  they aren’t talking about him winning the show, but instead calling him the ‘worst contestant ever‘ because he could have done better. if you look at the situation he was in, his performance, and the public’s reaction to it, the story is a perfect image of a huge problem in our society today. this is a problem we’ve had for millenia and a problem i’ve unsuccessfully tried to express before. if you don’t want any more school shootings, if you don’t want any more terrorist attacks, and you don’t want any more huge bailouts for massive banks and politicians making laws that benefit only themselves, read this post and try to understand my point. if you find it offensive or alarming that i’d claim “wheel of fortune” has anything to do with terrorism and bank bailouts, you’re either too stupid to have heard of Saṃsāra,  too ignorant to see the big picture, or just an average human being who experiences a spectrum of emotion in response to intense stimuli.  now that i’ve gotten your attention with an exaggerated and bombastic introduction, let’s go further.

my central thesis is this: most people experience a range of emotion. sociopaths do not. sociopaths use this effect to their advantage; they have the world convinced that only those who are ‘in control of their emotions’ are fit to be leaders, and the people who don’t ‘control their emotions’ should have lower status, less wealth, less respect, and harder lives. as a result, we are in a world where a man who feels no pain, anguish or discomfort at the thought of children being tortured is much more likely to have wealth, power, status, and respect than someone who feels intense pain on thinking about this – someone who empathizes equally with all human beings. the internet has roundly judged and mocked julian for being a normal human, for having feelings and being moved by them.

the first mistake this julian made – when given a chance to win a million bucks in front of a huge tv audience, on a show he’d dreamed about playing on for years – was mispronouncing “achilles”. maybe he’d never heard that of particular mythological character, or maybe he had heard of the character and knew its cultural importance and meaning but simply forgot how to pronounce a greek name that he hadn’t used or heard in years. or maybe he just choked momentarily because he was so excited about potentially winning a million dollars. you can see the sadness and frustration and ‘ohhh my god’ feeling in his eyes, and he’s still able to hold it together in front of this huge audience, and audience fawning over the girl next to him, who makes horrendous faces at him every time he succeeds, and then quickly recovers her poise in public and smiles at him.

so now imagine you’ve already made one mistake in front of a huge audience, a mistake that cost you a million dollars and makes you look stupid. chances are you’re going to become more stressed, not less. it’s well known that stress increases your odds of making mistakes, and making mistakes in front of an audience is something most people find stressful.

but he keeps his calm! the world’s stupidest, most embarrassing loser manages to maintain emotional stability after losing a shot at a million dollars – which would dramatically improve his life and reduce the intense stress of graduating college with debt and not finding a job and now i’m doing this thing work that is boring , does nothing good for the world, for someone who doesn’t respect me, so i can pay off money i borrowed to get a degree i was told would be a pathway out of poverty. i’ve just lost ten times the money i borrowed, and 20 times what i’ll be able to earn in a year.

after a small victory, our hero goes on and makes another mistake. the category he’s solving for is ‘person.’  while he’s spinning the wheel, he manages to get both pieces of a license plate, meaning if he succeeds, he’ll win a CAR. the chance at a million bucks is gone, but now he has a shot at a CAR. a means of transportation, it provides motion, it’s a vehicle, it’s a CAR , the symbol of american  autonomy and freedom and agency, it lets you get there FAST, it’s a CAR and the puzzle gradually works itself out to WORLD’S FASTEST _A_ and of COURSE he’s going to guess c for CAR because he’s thinking about a CAR . and what? he forgot that the category was ‘person’? what a moron! stupid stuttering jackass can’t see the category ‘person’ overlayed  on the screen, right below the puzzle! what a doofus – it’s almost as if he were solving a puzzle in front of a live audience with a chance to win an expensive valuable object and the opportunity to reedem himself in front of this audience and his own mind, and managed to forget the category that the solution fell into! what a loser!

so as the show goes on, he’s feeling crappier and crappier. can you honestly say you would do better in his position? you’ve just lost a chance at a million bucks and a car, in front of a ton of people, who now all think you are stupid because you were incredibly excited at the chance of having this much money, and you made a mistake in a very tense situation. you see D_CES__N and you think ‘dice spin’ because the element of luck and chance have shown up over and over for you today, as you’re in this intensely emotional situation in front of a large audience.

and then everybody goes and makes fun of this guy online, as if they would be perfectly calm and collected while on the edge of earning a million bucks by solving puzzles in front of an audience, with the possibility of reducing the amount of degrading work you’re subjected to in an economy that puts little value on people who can’t code and were  born with emotions than money.

now imagine watching this show and changing the numerical amounts to fractions of a cent. do you really think someone would get worked up and stressed and excited and devastated over wining and losing a few pennies? because that’s the perspective you’d have of this show if you were a billionaire oligarch. this loser thinks a million bucks is a big deal – what does he know about stress? how on earth is he going to be able to convince putin to give him that contract to build an overpriced hotel in sochi if he can’t keep calm about a measly million dollars?

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