We’re All Hypocrites, It’s Just a Matter of Scale

The Modern Survival Guide #49

Image for post
Image for post

Why Hypocrisy is Bad

Ok, let’s get this out of the way: hypocrisy is bad in general, m’kay? It degrades social trust, reducing our ability to work together, communicate, and enjoy each other’s company. If I can’t trust you to do things the way you say you think things ought to be done, I can’t trust you with much because I know that you’re either (1) a liar, (2) an idiot, (3) ignorant, (4) not self-aware, or (5) some combination of those things.

  1. Being a hypocrite in your romantic relationship is a good way to eventually end a romantic relationship. Your partner sees you at your best and worst, that’s true, and you can expect a certain amount of forgiveness. But remember the bit earlier where we talked about the impact of hypocrisy on trust? And what do you suppose romantic relationships are based on? Yeah. This is the kind of thing that builds up a reservoir of resentment, which can eventually boil over.
  2. We live in the information age. That means that it’s always possible for someone to blast out your hypocrisy to the world on Facebook, post YouTube videos, throw a pic on Instagram, or just tell a rambling story about you on Reddit. Your privacy is tenuous at best, your personal affairs are only a tantrum away from being posted online, and getting shamed online can wreck your life. So it’s best to not do things that just scream “post my misdeeds” if the consequence is that all of your friends and family will see you being a hypocritical ass.

Why You’re a Hypocrite

Part of the reason why hypocrisy is so prevalent, I think, is that there is a difference between concepts that are easily expressible vs. what we actually think about a subject. That can lead to perceived hypocritical actions.

Why It’s Hard to Not Be Seen as a Hypocrite

Look, this doesn’t sound hard: say what you mean, mean what you say, do things in accordance with the things you say. Poof, you’re not a hypocrite.

How to Not Be a Hypocrite

Not being a hypocrite at all is difficult in the extreme, for all the reasons mentioned earlier. So that shouldn’t be the goal, or the expectation. People are always going to be hypocrites about something or other. We’ll forget what we said, we’ll change our minds, we’ll be forced into a new choice, or we’ll simply decide our morals aren’t enough to keep us out of a particular action. That’s just life. The real goal, the serious goal, is to not be a hypocrite about important things.

  1. Consider those principles and apply them to your daily life. It can help to do this with a supporting friend to help you toe the line. There’s a reason people in AA have sponsors.
  2. Then figure out what you do on a daily basis that you consider “important,” based on your principles. Again, it might help to write these down.
  3. Run through some scenarios in your imagination about how you might be forced or tempted into violating those principles in life experiences.
  4. Prepare your response to these potential incidents. This is kind of like when you think of the perfect witty response hours after a prompt, except you’re doing it in advance.

Searching for truth in a world focused on belief.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store