4 Scientific Reasons Doing the Wrong Thing Feels So Good
Just to make sure we get off on the right foot here, I should probably point out that being a dick is bad. I've been around the Internet too long to know that some people will read that title, skim the points, and use it as justification for being a throbbing cock shaft. That being said, some stuff that society has labeled "evil" can have surprising upsides if viewed through the right camera lens. For instance ...
Lying Can Make You Feel Great (If No One Gets Hurt)
Honesty is the bedrock that all other morality is built upon. A huge reason we elected George Washington president was because, as a kid, he couldn't tell a lie. When Superman is blabbing about what he stands for, notice that he puts truth before both justice and the entire American way. When English romantic Poet John Keats was trying to find something to compare to beauty, all he could come up with was truth. Right? English poetry is throwing a shout-out to honesty -- it doesn't get more authoritative and street than that.
Old English poetry drive-by. Shooting truth at sheeple!
The Terrible Truth:
Lying actually feels great, and while we're on the subject, I should probably point out that Keats was being sarcastic with his whole truth = beauty thing. Sorry I misled you there. That's the problem with English poets. They are dirty, lying pieces of shit.
"But wait," you say through your fake gold teeth (I picture you all as rappers from 2010), "I lied once, and after my friends found out, they were really sad. I felt awful!" That's because lying only gets you that extra boost of feel-goodery if you don't actually hurt anyone. Turns out we're pretty empathetic creatures: If our lies directly fuck someone over, we feel bad.
"Why did I tell him his mom died? That was just pointless and wrong."
This makes a ton of sense to me because (and this next part is just the speculation of an Internet comedy writer -- there's no science to back it up) we encounter a ton of absolutely pointless bullshit in our day-to-day lives. Lying to save time and effort on those arbitrary hurdles feels good, just knowing that we avoided the ensuing rage-headache. Yes, I read and understand the terms of service. No, I didn't blow through that asshole red light at 3 a.m. in totally nonexistent traffic.
All those general rules exist, in theory, for good reasons, but only about 99 percent of the time. When we're in that 1 percent and manage to tap dance our way around those rules without getting caught, we get to feel smarter than the people in charge. And you know who else tap dances his way around the rules without getting caught? Fucking Batman. In that moment, we are Batman.
We could probably use a little work on the outfits, though.
Gossip Makes You Better at Socializing
Don't you love it when people talk shit about you behind your back? Of course not, because that kind of thing is awful enough to have entire movies made about it. It betrays the trust of the person being talked about, but aside from that, it's just tasteless: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all ...
The Terrible Truth:
... is what a didactic Saturday morning children's program might insist. But in reality, gossiping about your peers is essential "for a real understanding of our social environment." Ha! Kids' shows are dumb!
Look at those idiots. They can't even dress themselves properly.
Despite what high-and-mighty attitudes you may have about how friend-groups should work, at the end of the day there's a reason it feels so good to talk about people when they're not around: It allows us to compare our lives to theirs, and since gossip generally focuses on the bad, the game is rigged for us to come out on top. That's great not only for our self-esteem, but for our social development and understanding of social cues. To use an example from my life, when I found out that Rogath the Bloodener had broken up with QuadBoner6969 (all my closest friends are characters in a Diablo III fan fiction I'm writing), it made me feel better, because if Rogath hasn't settled down yet, maybe it's not so bad that my recent love life has been nothing but constant, meaningless sex with a slew of incredibly attractive people of every ethnicity, gender identity, and character class you can imagine.
Again, I'm not saying that talking shit about people all the time is a good idea. If you become that guy, everyone will get sick of you real fast. But beyond the psychological benefits just explained, indulging a little bit can actually be a great way to keep track of how all your friends are doing ("Rogath sold all his Legendary weapons? That's not a good sign, I should call him") and can actually help build a relationship. The fact that they've chosen to share sensitive information deepens bonds of trust, while refusing to gossip can be perceived as a sign that you're an outsider or just don't belong (much like Jagoff Frostblade Sragnet, a loner with a heart of gold, lusted after by all women and revered by his fellow warriors).
Master of all weaponry ... including his heart.
Farting Is Healthy
Few things exist on such a broad spectrum of judgment as farts. A silent, smelly fart spells instant death for even the most casual conversation, but a low, odorless one is an amazing tell-that-story-later-on-a-long-car-ride that you can carry with you for years. That's why it's so cruel that you can never anticipate what a fart will be like until it comes out, meaning that, in mixed company, it's usually best to just hold it in. Like that time in high school I spent an entire dinner date with my sphincter clenched tighter than an astronaut on a spacewalk, terrified that I might pass gas and ruin our quiet candlelit evening by "releasing the Kraken."
"Fuck you and your ass air!"
The Terrible Truth:
Turns out holding it in isn't just distracting -- it's genuinely bad for your health. The gas struggling to escape your body isn't going to say, "Oh, now's not a great time? I'll just wait, then." It's a stubborn little bastard, and it's going to burrow through your insides until it finds a way to escape your butt like a very lost and presumably embarrassed xenomorph. The pressure from restrained farts can create diverticula (stretchy spots) in your intestines, which can then get infected and really mess up your day. You know how you stretch out a balloon to weaken it before you inflate it? Every time you resist breaking wind for the sake of others, you're doing that to your guts.
Amazingly, these problems are even more complicated than you realize, which means I get to talk about farts for yet another paragraph. Since the odor of a fart is distracting (especially if the farter is well practiced and proficient), what do you do with, say, airline pilots, who work in pairs in tight quarters at high altitudes where farting is more likely due to the lower air pressure of airplane cabins? If they hold the fart in, the distraction can damage their ability to fly the plane -- but if they let it out, the odor will distract both pilots. What to do?
"You'd better be thanking the hell out of science right about now."
Luckily, scientists have come up with a clever solution: installing activated charcoal packets in the seats, which would absorb the fart and allow the pilot to fly the plane without being distracted by either odor or gut-gurgles.
Thank God we have people working on this stuff.
Ditching Your Online Friends Makes You Happier
While everyone has daydreamed about cutting their ties to social media, the fact remains that it's fucking impossible to do that. You'd instantly become a de facto pariah: Where would you learn about upcoming birthdays, dinner parties, flash mobs? Where would you get your news? How would you know that Dylan from your junior year economics class is sick of Upworthy? You wouldn't.
You wouldn't know anything.
"Chad, did you eat the beakers again? Please get on Facebook so you'll stop being stupid."
The Terrible Truth:
But you'd be happier. Scientists monitored the Facebook use of several subjects and found that the more they used the site, the sadder and more anxious they got. Not that we actually needed that study: Pretty much every news story covering Facebook describes it as annoying and addictive, while the current generation of teenagers will openly admit to hating it (while also clarifying that they have no plans to stop visiting).
The study doesn't tell us why the site makes us so sad, but they suspect that it's all about how you compare yourself to others. Facebook functions in the exact opposite way of gossip: Instead of a few people privately discussing others, Facebook is about everyone publicly discussing themselves. And since social comparison is a big part of socializing, every time you look at your Facebook feed, you're comparing your own (flawed) image of yourself to the finely crafted and utterly artificial version of themselves your friends have created specifically for Facebook. Not because they're being dishonest, and not because it's impossible to have meaningful friendships online, but because that's the whole point of the website: You choose how others see you. It's hard to remain genuine, because you know that anything you post will be visible to 95 percent of everyone you've ever met.
"Accidentally shit in the hot tub today."
It's the perfect mask, giving you perfect control over your presentation of yourself ... so of fucking course it's depressing you. Mistakes and emotions and spontaneity are what friendships are. Take that away, and we're just robots bumping into each other in an empty field.
But even knowing that Facebook is bad for you, you still can't leave. No one leaves. You, and everyone else, are under a tremendous amount of pressure to keep Facebooking, which is why it's the most popular site in the world -- even bigger than Google. Even though no one likes it. Even though it makes us sad. This is what socializing has become, I guess: We all picked the most unpleasant place to hang out, worked as hard as we could to make it worse, and then made it impossible to leave. That's almost as bad as ... uh, creating a list of rude behaviors and then telling people that they were good for you. Oh, shit, I made the world a worse place today, didn't I?