Malcontents form the basis of the contrarian impulse. They are people who, no matter what their lot in life, will be discontented and blame someone else for their alleged suffering. They seek power for themselves above their station in life no matter how good that life is, destroying the good and enhancing the bad.
That type of negativity comes mostly from insignificance. Someone without a spark of creative genius may become wealthy, powerful, or socially successful, but he still lacks any inner direction, which is important because creativity comes from an orientation toward something instead of against things.
If we had to summarize creativity, it begins with the ability to perceive a need, and extends from that toward incorporating patterns from elsewhere in reality and drawing comparisons between them. Metaphor exists at the heart of creativity and allows greater understanding of how the world works as well as invention of the new.
Those who find themselves perpetually discontented are individualists; that is, they see nothing but themselves, therefore cannot explore the inner space that connects self to world. They want to reject the world, therefore they become contrarians who portray reality as unreal and manipulations as real.
All human pathologies come from this primal hubris, or a desire to be more important in a social setting than we are in any meaningful measurement of reality and our contributions. People who want to socialize, manipulate, attention seek, and otherwise get ahead without contributing are this type of contrarian individualist.
We can see the creative impulse comes from a sense of inner balance and purpose which is achieved through thinking about things other than the self. A recent study on meditation showed how people go from externally-directed but individualistic to internally-directed and holistic:
Twitter users who completed a 60-day online mediation challenge were more likely to post positive original tweets, according to a University of Auckland study, which is one of the first to track real-world behavioral changes in a group of Twitter users before, during and after attempting a mindfulness challenge.
“We argue that if consumers practice mindfulness, they more fully engage in online activities that require creativity and creation, which means that they are more likely to post original content rather than simply retweeting information created by others.”
The study findings also indicate that Twitter users who completed the mediation challenge, compared to those who didn’t, exhibited more positive emotions in original tweets.
Mindfulness involves being aware of the world around you through the lens of inner space. Instead of accepting what one sees as perceives as an absolute truth, people who pursue mindfulness — sometimes called prayer in the West — try to translate what they see and perceive into a consistent model of patterns and function in the world.
This requires that they tame their inner self, calming the neurotic voices of fear and trauma, while discovering how their brains think and therefore becoming able to harness that power. It also requires they accept themselves as they are, which allows them to separate desires from needs.
People who have explored inner space tend to be more creative in the sense of having ideas outside of the dominant trends that everyone else is participating in so that they gain social importance. They also have clearer minds, so can see important issues and the structure of those patterns, allowing the use of metaphor.
This runs in contrast to the echo chamber of malcontents that is human socializing, where those who are most emotional and attention-seeking dominate, which is why social media is unrepresentative:
Unlike surveys, which are designed to collate opinions from diverse groups that closely reflect the country’s demographics, it is well established that the demographics on social media platforms are not truly representative of the larger population.
There’s another, lesser-known bias—quantified for the first time in a recent paper co-authored by Pokhriyal, Vosoughi, and Professor of Government Benjamin Valentino—known as participation bias.
“Even if you have everyone on Twitter, they may only participate in certain topics—ones that they find interesting or maybe feel comfortable talking about in public,” says Vosoughi. So, he says, when a small group is very vocal about a particular issue, their opinions get over-represented in the data.
Participation Bias says that most people think in social terms, and when they see some people doing something, they assume this small group speaks for all and they emulate it because that group is getting the attention.
People who have explored inner space find that getting attention comes from doing useful things for others or intangibles like nature, culture, and the divine. People without that exploration see only social activity and try to become important there by imitating successful gestures others have made.
This hacks our brains, which are designed to find optimums in ranges based on multiple inputs without consciously intending to do so, resulting in a Bayesian inference engine that is easily fooled by enough polarized or repetitive input:
Bayesian inference is a statistical method that combines prior knowledge with new evidence to make intelligent guesswork. For example, if you know what a dog looks like and you see a furry animal with four legs, you might use your prior knowledge to guess it’s a dog.
This inherent capability enables people to interpret the environment with extraordinary precision and speed, unlike machines that can be bested by simple CAPTCHA security measures when prompted to identify fire hydrants in a panel of images.
When a Bayesian system sees multiple points of data which are similar to each other, it assumes that this is part of the world and not a human manipulation. It can easily outfox one manipulative human, but is naked and clueless when confronted with even a small angry, sad, vindictive, or incensed group.
In this way, malcontents see a power in destruction (movements that find beauty in destruction, like heavy metal, steal this from them). They can be destructive and attract attention, therefore manipulate others, and by doing so create their own version of relevance and importance that does not need reality, only human opinions.
For this reason, they become individualists who are anti-realistic or opposed to any mention of reality outside the world of human opinion. This leads them to form a movement oriented toward destruction that ends in their own destruction, something that bothers them less than one might guess because they remain in control even in death.