How to Use Self-Improvement As a Tool For Social Justice
My remedy for fighting inequality
I saw a tweet today from a black woman who teaches people how to trade in the stock market. In the tweet, she said part of the reason she shared stock advice with people who look like her is the fact that many of them are felons who can’t find traditional employment. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone sharing alternative routes for people who can’t follow conventional ones. I see it damn near every day on this little corner of the internet called Black Money Twitter.
In this corner of the web, you’ll find minority real estate entrepreneurs, e-commerce store owners, personal development teachers, stock traders, craigslist flippers, and a variety of other people who are focused on aspects that move the needle in the life of an individual. I wish people like this got more news coverage and social media clout. It’s a very interesting world filled with a bunch of free-thinking, sovereign, and wealthy minorities.
Rarely will you find random bursts of outrage like the rest of Twitter. You won’t see people complaining about the unfairness of the system. You won’t see messages of learned helplessness dooming entire races and genders to permanent failure. You’ll see people making real moves and explaining how to do the same.
It’s just not Black Money Twitter either. I learn self-improvement tips from people from all walks of life — race, color, gender, sexual orientation. I learned a tax-tip that helped me save $10,000. I walked out of a car dealership seconds before buying a new car after reading a Tweet about staying out of debt. I’ve read tweet threads that taught me more valuable information than my entire stint at college.
I learn new things every day from this pocket of the web that focuses on self-improvement and the advancement of the individual as opposed to the rest of social media — a cesspool of negativity and misplaced outrage, often disguised as social justice.
Some of the themes I’ve seen not just on Black Money Twiter, but self-improvement Twitter as a whole are.
I saw another twet from a black female real estate expert who said she focused on getting more access to capital in case she needed legal representation and bail money for being mistargeted.
Lack of economic power affects marginalized communities — could be the biggest factor. Which is more likely to solve it, though? The continual transformation of the lives of individuals — many, most of the people from BMT grew up poor — or screaming at the sky about injustice?
We all need resources, not just minorities. Without money, you have little influence over your own damn life, let alone macro-scale policy,
People ask me why I focus on money so much. Because money talks. Nothing talks like money in America. You need more of it. It’s not about greed. You need resources to deploy at certain times.
When you look a certain way, you have no choice but to deal with the reality of prejudice. You do get to decide what to focus on though.
You can focus on making the most of your life in the freest — albeit laced with racism — country in the entire world.
The great thing about owning an e-commerce store? People just want the products and don’t care who owns it. Look at me. I’m objectively one of the top writers on Medium, period. I’m also black. People read my work because I’m a beast on this keyboard, not because of my skin color. I choose to focus on living and writing as well as possible and I’ll let the chips fall where they may.
Others I see share the same sentiment. We get it. Yes, life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to throw our hands up and feel destined for failure.
A corollary to economic empowerment, you need freedom to live a great life — freedom to do what you want, when you want, and with whom you want.
You also want the freedom to think for yourself. The people in this section of the web don’t feel bound to be politically correct or agree with 100 percent of the stances we’re supposed to agree with.
When you improve your mindset and accumulate resources, you start learning how to think for yourself as a consequence. You realize that the institutions of society can’t do all that much for you, so it makes no sense to listen to their dogma. All these themes tie together to the ultimate goal of sovereignty.
I see this theme on my timeline daily — people teaching others how to be sovereign. Creating, selling, and buying products from one another. Affiliating with each other.
Chris Johnson, a black army veteran, owns an e-commerce store and has educational products teaching others how to make money online. With affiliate marketing of his products, he’s personally helped other people who look like him earn five figures a month online.
He has helped several dozen people, often people who look like him, start their own e-commerce stores, and make a full-time living from them.
That’s what real social justice looks like to me — making moves on the ground, changing the lives of actual people instead of trying to fix the vague, highly complex, faceless system of society.
The Tyranny of Experts
People find arguments couched in moralistic terms to intervene in complex systems they don’t understand. These interventions trigger endless chains of unintended consequences — consequences for the victims, but none for the interventionistas, allowing them to repeat the mistake again and again. — Nassim Taleb
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. We have these policymakers, board members, and BS charity organizations, who live in a fairy tale world.
They don’t actually want to help you. Well, they think they do, maybe some of them really do, but they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing.
Sure, they’re willing to put programs in place and experiment with your life, but they have no skin in the game, so the actual results don’t matter.
Again Nassim Taleb paints it well:
The first flaw [of interventionist policy makers] is that they are incapable in thinking in second steps and unaware of the need for it –and about every peasant in Mongolia, every waiter in Madrid, and every car service operator in San Francisco knows that real life happens to have second, third, fourth, nth steps. The second flaw is that they are also incapable of distinguishing between multidimensional problems and their single-dimensional representations –like multidimensional health and its stripped, cholesterol-reading reduced representation. They can’t get the idea that, empirically, complex systems do not have obvious one-dimensional cause and effects mechanisms, and that under opacity, you do not mess with such a system.
I won’t get into the depths of it here, but many, most, policies created by benevolent policymakers to help marginalized communities actually hurt them — sometimes to the tune of killing hundreds of millions of people. We won’t go there, but if you know you know.
Alas, people will continue to look up at centralized systems for help — get out there and vote! — those centralized systems will ‘try’ to ‘help’, the system will just get worse, wash, rinse, and repeat. I’m not against asking large centralized structures for help because I’m morally opposed to it. It’s just dumb and doesn’t work.
What works better? Decentralized help. Small tribes of people helping others with useful and valuable information. Self-improvement is valuable. It’s “Lindy” — Nassim’s term for concepts that are useful to do the length of their existence.
Self-improvement has been around forever. I’m just regurgitating greek philosophy. These are strategies that pass forward from generation to generation, themes that have been shown to actually work versus pie in the sky iatrogenic policies that harm people.
People do need help, but they need that help a little bit closer to the ground than the federal government. They need the type of help that doesn’t placate or infantilize them, but the type of help that pushes them in the direction of personal power and agency.
If I had to bet my life savings on a strategy to help save not just minorities, but anyone who feels they’re not at the proper level in life, I’d choose self-improvement over policies from semi-sociopathic moronic politicians every single time without blinking.
Self-Improvement is a Matter of Life and Death
If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. — Jim Rohn
Honestly, when I first started learning about self-improvement because I wanted to live the dope dream life. I wanted to be rich, successful, have a bunch of status, appear smart, etc. As I move forward, though, I look at self-improvement as a matter of life and death.
Without self-improvement, you fall victim to the system with its gaslighting, perceived limited opportunity, and incentive structure to keep you trapped forever until you die.
I can name a litany of issues that partially stem from a lack of life purpose — alcoholism, obesity, depression, abuse, violence, and fights in Facebook comments sections to name a few.
The entire premise of my most recent book — the system wants you to fail and if you try to operate within that system you will fail. And I look at the way people try to function in this system and it ruins their lives. I get why people are upset, totally. If you operate from the wrong paradigm you have no choice but to feel pessimistic.
Not only are some people circumstantially screwed, but they’re also brainwashed. Their view of reality is so real to them that it is reality. I don’t disagree with people who say society is unjust and dooms people to fail. Because to them, it’s true. Doesn’t matter what I think.
In my version of reality, and in the reality many other successful people from all walks of life share, we understand that the world is unfair, but also filled with insanely high levels of abundance and opportunity.
You choose what to focus on. Does this mean you ignore the injustices of the world? Of course not. But caring about social justice and focusing on your own self-improvement doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. I’ve mentioned in many of my posts the fact that I have no true clue as to how to solve deep structural issues we face in society, so I leave that task to those who are experts at doing that.
I know what I know and share what I know to try and help individuals. This can create much more of a ripple effect than me taking to Twitter to complain about the system. I’d feel amazing if my words helped a few dozen people transform their lives. Now I’m working on products to help other people make an income for themselves like my new writing course. I want to put money in people’s pockets, trade, collaborate, share information. This is the way I see the revolution truly happening.
My business coach is a woman, I put money in her pocket and she teaches me valuable skills. Jon Morrow, the person who taught me how to blog, is paralyzed from the neck down. He funded his medical bills with product sales from his blogging course. I put money in his pocket, he teaches me. Bushra Azar, who helped teach me marketing is a woman living in Saudi Arabia, not the most social justice friendly place in the world. I put money in her pocket, she teaches me. And guess what? I only cared about the information, not who it came from, and as a result, I practice equality through commerce.
The problem with this view? It makes too much sense. It’s stripped of all the extra emotional context, outrage, and handwringing. It’s too straightforward.
Often, my writing offends people because I’m too straightforward. The blunt, obvious, open secrets of the world hurt most because you know them, but you don’t want to actually face them because that means you’d have to admit your own blindness.
Better to admit it and move forward than stay in the dark though.
Decide the Truth For Yourself
On the one hand, there are real issues to contend with. On the other hand, a lot of this political nonsense is a psyop to keep you distracted, divided, helpless, and submissive.
Self-improvement is the tool for social justice because self-actualization helps you wake up. If everyone collectively decided to focus on becoming their best self, share with their neighbors and online tribes, trade information, and build their own little mini-empires to create a collective of sovereign individuals, we’d all do just fine.
There are pockets of society that self-help currently can’t reach. The circumstances are too dire. Me walking through the hood with a Tony Robbins book in my hand isn’t going to help, I get that.
But imagine if the rest of us who aren’t in dire straits decided to focus on self-actualization first? We’d all have the resources to deploy in these areas and we’d be closer to the ground than these BS politicians. The problem would be solved.
I plan to keep doing what I’m doing to try to help my small tribe live a better life so that they can do it for a small tribe of people, so then those people can each do it for a small tribe of people. That’s my movement. Then, I’ll take the resources I get from this and deploy them in ways that move the needle.
I’ll vote and participate in my local government, but beyond that, I’m leaving the politics to the political tribes. They’ll end up where they end up and I and my tribe will end up where we end up. We’ll see what happens.
I wish utopia was real. I wish politicians cared. I wish the societal overlords had real incentives to help us. I wish collectivism worked. But in my short 30 years of life, I’ve found none of the above to be true. So the next best answer I had was to figure out how to change my own life and give others suggestions as to how to do the same thing.
I want you to think hard about your life for a moment.
Which do you think is more likely to help you? Overly obsessing about politics who demand change but never tell you what that change will look like? Or ruthlessly focusing on your own self-improvement, sovereignty, and resource accumulation so you can not only save yourself from the societal shackles but help others do the same?
Think hard before you come up with your answer.
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