What’s Today’s Crisis? – Opting Out


A potpourri this week, as I reflect on the exhausting cycle of crises that media consumers are subject to. I’ve estimated that the timeframe between each new thing we’re expected to be disturbed by is about two to three weeks.

Recently it’s been the drama associated with the lifting of lockdowns as recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic begins, followed by the George Floyd murder at the hands of a police offer, then the protests and riots preceding a popular call, totally out of left-field, for the defunding of the police force.

On each of these things we’re expected to have a loud opinion, and it appears that many are following this implicit instruction dutifully. Many Instagram friends, who as far as I have seen so far in my life have had no interest in politics whatsoever, suddenly want to be civil rights activists.

I’m not here to debate each of these cases on merit. They are just as worthy of being talked about as much as any other issue. But it seems plain to me, as it should be to anyone, that we shouldn’t be played by a media-driven narrative.

This is not the first time an African-American has been killed by a cop on questionable grounds. It happens quite regularly. Yet the timing and drive of this particular “crisis” has to be considered suspicious.

A well-formed frame has been foisted on us, which seems too well-prepared to be spontaneous. “Defund the police” is now suddenly a thing.

I’d usually be happy by such a thing becoming a household phrase, except for this timing issue. It’s who it’s coming from as well: The type that wouldn’t blink if someone’s children were taken away from them if the state didn’t agree with their homeschooling curriculum.

I’m all for reaching across partisan lines and all that, but I do believe there is such a thing as an unreliable ally. 

Anybody who consumes news and social media must be in permanent fight or flight mode, as we hardly get time to absorb the implications of the last big story before another one comes crashing in, demanding our attention.

So I’m just wondering: What will the crisis be next week? At some point this current story will run out of steam. We can hardly expect to be blessed with a quiet week in news, not these days. Something will happen soon that will make us forget about George Floyd and outrage us in a whole new way.

Is it absolutely necessary that we participate in it? I hope readers will join me in ignoring it altogether.

Opt-Outism: The Mini Manifesto

Opting out is about no longer naively taking on the NPC understanding of how the world works wholesale. It is to remove the veil from your eyes.

It’s not about relinquishing your power, but no longer believing in the specter of power. It means taking up your own power.

It’s not necessary that we be activists. It is an entirely legitimate enterprise to comment on political issues as an outside observer. Being like how Ludwig von Mises described himself — a historian of decline — is sufficient.

Opting out doesn’t have to mean going away to live in a forest trying not to trip over your beard as you forage for berries. It can mean an opt-in to enthusiastic life-living. Doing what you want on your own terms, with people with similar values.

Opting out means not voting if you don’t want to.

Opting out is about pursuing capitalism, not activism. If you opened a business this week, you would be doing more for your fellow man than five years of political campaigning.

Opting out means you don’t have to stay in your home country out of some misplaced loyalty or patriotism. It doesn’t follow that by some accident of birth that you must suffer half of your paycheck disappearing to be spent on destroying Middle-Eastern families. Opting out is not blue or red pill, it is white pill. It’s about realizing that the political world is going to hell, but it’ll probably be all right in the end.

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James Smith

Writer and film-maker from the United Kingdom. Digital nomad. Author of 'The Shy Guy's Guide to Travelling'.