There is a kind of addiction in the United States that is destroying it. It isn’t new. In fact, it has been around for so long, it is invisible. It is the addiction of superiority. If you watch the right kind of television, you will see it everywhere. My favorite example is the court show. I find these shows deeply disturbing. In fact, I find them so disturbing that I’ve come up with a theory — probably wrong — to make them more palatable. I believe friends get together and pretend to sue each other to make a little cash and to get their faces on the television. But clearly, if most viewers thought this, they would not watch. Indeed, even with my theory, I find the shows repellent.
The way the shows work is by stimulating endorphins that make the viewer feel superior. “At least I don’t sleep with my best friend’s husband and then steal her television set!” Oh, can you feel that flood of endorphins?! That feels good. And I’m all for that! Please, my fellow humans: be happy. It’s a good thing to do. All I ask is that you superiority junkies admit that you do have an addiction and that you aren’t any different from a random heroin addict who gets her endorphins more directly.
I see the people watching the court shows and Fox News as being minor addicts. The major addicts design their entire lives around their addictions. For example, they will never drink alcohol because it is a drug. But what they are really doing is stimulating their endorphins because they feel superior to the person who drinks to stimulate her endorphins. These same people will tend toward “healthy” food (how ever that might be defined this week) and against tasty food. There is really no end to the ways that a superiority addiction may manifest itself. People might hoard money or they might vote against their political interests.
From the outside, we may see the hardcore superiority addict as a sad person. But I suspect that is wrong. Your average heroin addict may seem sad on the outside but with her brain swimming in synthetic endorphins, she is very likely happy as one of the happiest clams. So we shouldn’t feel sorry for the superiority fiend. But just the same, we should not be codependent. If she wants to feel good about herself because she eats better and drinks better and votes better than the rest of us, that’s her right. But we needn’t buy into that delusion.
In a perfect world, such superiority addicts would quickly disappear. Our reactions to them would make it clear that their ascetic lifestyles were just a way of getting high. So when a ascetic and a glutton are both offered a delicious piece of chocolate cake, the glutton’s acceptance of the cake is exactly the same as the ascetic’s refusal. And if the ascetic’s real motivation (endorphins from a sense of superiority) were widely recognized (and, hopefully, mocked), the ascetic would take the cake. Because being addicted to a feeling of superiority is a great weakness.
Choose the cake!
I’m not that found of chocolate myself. I mean, I’ll eat it. I’ll eat just about anything that is sweet. I’ve even been getting into coconut because it is combined with lots of sugar. But don’t get the wrong idea about me. Most people think I’m a sugar addict, but I actually like fatty foods a lot more. Of course, after a great fatty meal, nothing is so great as a sugary dessert. Or better: a sugary, fatty dessert. Ice cream sundae!