Violence, Cynicism, and False Maturity

Several times in my life I’ve encountered people who seemed honestly stunned or dismissive of the idea of avoiding violent confrontation in political, military, and even personal spheres.  There seemed to be something that didn’t register to them that the best solution was not always the one with the highest body count, the most blood, and the greatest number of smoking craters.  The idea that a less or no-violent solution may produce better results seemed alien to them, weak, or even laughable.

Of course most of the people I knew like this grew up.  When I look at our “3Ps” (politicians, preachers, and pundists) that are most popular, I’m seeing a lot of people who didn’t grow up.  Oddly, they posture themselves as the mature ones.

Similarly, in politics, in media, in punditry, it seems that nothing is too cynical, too dark, too nihilistic not to propose.  The more cynical the view the better, is the rule it seems, and thus we have people who denounce many if not a majority of their own countrypeople as evil, or contemptable.   We see it in media that vies to be the bloodiest, darkest view of people imaginable because it’s “true” – in short, it’s what we want to think.  Cynicism is seen as maturity.

Violence and cynicism (often mixed with sarcasm, which drags down sarcasm’s good name) are postulated as being mature.

Stepping back for a moment, these are two traits that very much are not mature.  To engage in violence for no good reason is a mark of pathology.  To be in a race to hate the most things is insanity.  Yet, it is considered mature.

It is considered, in short, realistic.  Upon reflection it’s certainly not realistic since it’s basically having highly predetermined and unchangable worldviews.  But it’s pitched as “realism.”

Realism is about cause and effect, true maturity and understanding, goals and achieving them, people and working with them.  We’ve traded real maturity for a kind of regressed adolescence of violent fantasies (of course those having the fantasies assume they’ll be untouched) and dark speculations (which of course justify the dark fantasies).

Next time you look at Congress, or our media, ask yourself how much is maturity and how much is faux maturity.

Then at that point, you may need to drink.  But do so in a mature manner.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at

Cynicism Is Not a Strategy

It's easy to be cynical – as I'm quite aware.  The economy is tough.  Industries are changing.  Society is altering.  There will probably be another "Transformers" movie.

It's easy to be cynical all the time.  It's fashionable, cool, and makes you look all deep and mature.

Cynicism also doesn't solve a damn thing.  You can be as worried as you want about the career economy, you can be fashionably cynical or really cynical, but here's the basic painful truth:

Cynicism is NOT a strategy.

Being cynical won't solve a problem.  It doesn't make things work better. It doesn't do anything.  At best it can be a shield or an indicator of problems – and that's it.  An alarm doesn't put out the fire, a shield doesn't defeat an enemy.

So ask yourself this – is cynicism something you treat as a strategy?  Is it so core to your identity, actions (or just sheer posing) that it's something you treat as vital, as part of your identity as something that is somehow going to yield results?

It's not.

Strategy is about planning, organizing, measuring, and achieving.  Being cynical doesn't do any of these things.

In fact the longer you remain cynical, the less you get done, and the more cynical you become.  Not a recipe for success.

– Steven Savage