Some insist that "should" doesn't belong in the question. Just go after whatever you think is good. But what is good? No answer. Good is whatever people assume is good.
An Olympic runner can run 100 meters faster than anyone. This is supposedly amazing and great and of course, people assume that this is the sort of thing I should want. But why not change the terms of the competition from "run 100 meters the fastest" to "do exactly whatever I did the last three days." I won. Where's my gold medal?
What if I kill 100 people and make it onto the world's greatest serial killers list. It feels good to be the best at something. Is that good?
What if I become a garbage worker rather than a teacher? Why isn't that good?
|Is this the garbage worker or the serial killer? I'll never tell|
I don't like The Ethos. I might hate The Ethos. I think I've always hated The Ethos.
He grades what you wear, how you speak, how you walk, what you believe, where you work, what school you go to, where you shop, what you own, who your friends are, who you marry, what you eat and drink, the shows you watch, the music you listen to, and even your stupid haircut. The Ethos is a freakin' stalker tampering with every aspect of your life.
|I don't know what a Ferrari looks like. Is this a Ferrari?|
You live in fear of stigma from the Ethos, but the price you pay to avoid it is enormous. Huge quantities of your money, your time, and your attention will go to feed The Ethos. People do it bit by bit and at a subconscious level so they don't realize how much they've paid until it's too late. Famous last words: "I wish I'd spent less time at the office". Instead of building yourself a beautiful bubble, you live in The Ethos's dungeon.
And then there's the fragmentation of your own mind. Affirming The Ethos's propositions means living a life of contradiction. One can never work out a cogent worldview so long as they can only choose from a menu of socially convenient beliefs. We pay the dragon with our integrity.
Is there merit to The Ethos' grading system? Even I can admit there is. But demand has made the price so damn high that you're probably better off spending your time, money, and attention on other things.
I remember noticing all these chinks in The Ethos's armor that I wasn't supposed to think too hard about. I felt like every rational human knew at some deep level that The Ethos's grades were inflated to bullshit, but they put their brains away and obeyed its commands because if they didn't then The Ethos would strike them with his mighty weapon - he would grade them poorly. That social power to humiliate dissenters is a strong incentive not to think too hard about whether The Ethos's depiction of what is good truly is good.
But being strung along by The Ethos's arbitrary grades sounds horrible to me. What could be worse than looking back on a life of obedience to a ravenous holy dragon?
|The artist gets this picture of The Ethos mostly right, but The Ethos actually has blue hair|
It's the first answer to the question, "what should I want?"