On Pitching Crazy Memes and Why I Should Get a Haircut

by phil on Monday Mar 22, 2004 2:16 AM

During the anti-war protests, FOX News would always pan the camera on some guy with colored dreadlocks and ripped-up clothing, blathering on the most obnoxious statements. This hippie's outlandish appearance was not selling his point effectively. In actuality, it was hurting his point because the conservative viewers at home would just laugh at these "weirdoes." They would remind and congratulate themselves for not being like "those people" and continue supporting the war in defiance.

Only when people see that their peers are adopting new ideas, do they then get the courage to jump on the bandwagon. For example, the recent gay weddings in San Francisco did a great job selling gay marriage. Testimonials from viewers were along the lines like, "hey, these are normal people who are in love. They're not those crazy San Franciscans I expected to see."

And so I don't want to become a bad ambassador for the memes I'm passionate about. My ideas should not fall on deaf ears, and so I must make sure that my audience feels that they can relate to me.

This is relevant because I've become more and more of a cliché lately.

I have a crazy haircut, wear outlandish clothes at times, and I sleep on the floor. In other words, people may label me as a hippie or a raver, but most likely their gut reaction upon meeting me is that I'm weird.

In addition, I speak passionately about the fringe sciences, environmental protection, and indie films. So what happens is that I become resigned in people's mind as part of "those people," like those elitist intellectuals, those crazy bleeding-heart students, or those sophisticated cafe-beatniks. People begin writing me off because I'm so foreign to them.

And this bothers me. Not because people think I'm weird, but because I'm not helping my culture in a positive way.

I've observed what this dynamic does. I've been a normal person who would see dirty hippies or trippy ravers and just get a sick feeling. I wouldn't get near them, I wouldn't hear them out, but most unfortunately, I would never adopt their ideas.

Now that I AM adopting their ideas, I find that I'm becoming like those same repelling hippies and ravers.

So how is this going to translate into action? Well, I now have a philosophisticated reason to get a normal haircut. By balancing compliance in unimportant, superficial areas, I can better spread the good word. Right now, I feel like I'm brushed off even before I open my mouth.

This is my current, weird haircut: just bangs down to my lips, and the rest of my head is shaved. I've been getting strange looks for about six months, but my pride hasn't let me cut it. Plus, I genuinely enjoy the haircut for its uniqueness, for its outlandishness, and for the way it makes me a little tranny, fawninsh, and anime-like. But when I'm talking to people about the importance of Nietzsche or the Singularity, it's futile if they're distracted by the way I look.

And this is not just about the haircut. This is about an overall policy of compromising certain things in order to make socializing easier. While being asocial is not fun, I've always carried some sort of glorious lone wolf mindset. Now though, I'm starting to realize that my core goals, such as inspiring or helping others, are not really compatible with being a loner.

We'll see. Maybe I AM frustrated by those dirty looks and this is my way of bootstrapping myself into getting a normal haircut. Oh wait, did I just commit an ad hominem, argumentative attack on myself? Whoops. And so the Philosophist goes...

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