- People need things from you, and will value your ability to provide these things
- What you are inside is important, but other people can’t see it
- Learn, train and improve to make your inner qualities shine
David Wong is an executive editor and writer at Cracked.com.
It’s April Fool’s Day, but instead of a hoax I decided to do some kind of special edition. So today we’ll have a look at an online article instead of a book.
Cracked.com is a very dangerous site if you are the tiniest bit nerdy. Its main content, list-based humour heavy on pop culture references, is presented with just the right mixture of clickbait and substance to prompt hour-long reading binges. Between the fun, however, lurk some more serious pieces of actual journalism, just to add some flavour to the mix. And then there is one article that they repost every year since 2012, titled “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person”, and that’s what we will talk about.
Staying true to its host site, “6 Harsh Truths” is a list counting down six behaviors and attitudes that may hold you back, packaged as fundamental truths of society. In the end, however, it all boils down to a single message: people need things (work, money, entertainment, care, love,…) and they judge you according to your ability to provide those. “6 Harsh Truths” employs good metaphors to illustrate its point, but let me give an even simpler example: When I enter a bakery, I need baked goods at reasonable prices. When the baker instead tells me they didn’t feel like baking today, I will disrespect them. The other way, they need my money. If I instead start yammering how food should be free and producers could live from customer tips, how do you think they would react? It looks simple enough, but once we leave bakeries, people get confused.
The basis of every human interaction is mutual expectations, whether it is a job interview, a date, an exchange of goods and services or just an evening out with the guys. If you don’t offer the prospect of good work, you won’t get the job. If you don’t offer the prospect of a fulfilling relationship, you won’t get a second date. Many of you might find that shallow or materialistic, but it is not. Nobody owes anything to anyone. However, even the most romantic love is about both giving and taking, about fulfilling expectations. You expect trust, affection and trustworthiness from your partner, and they expect the same from you. Your relationship will be harmonic and fulfilling as long as both of you provide.
If you still think this is superficial, because the only thing that counts is what you are inside, the real you, then do this: think about someone you hate. Now think about how they are a really nice guy inside. If you have problems doing so, that’s exactly what other people experience when they picture you. No one can look inside you, so all appreciation you get will be for the actions that your inside makes you do. If your inner self is not apparent to other people, it has no value for them. So what’s the solution? Do something. Learn something. Be the best you can be. Give yourself a unique set of skills and qualities and find or make your niche. “6 Harsh Truths” offers to be the kick in the behind that literally kickstarts your life.
I should note that “6 Harsh Truths” has been roasted by some critics. Interestingly, these rejections are often for technicalities (like the complaint that Wong uses the phrase “society” without proper definition), and in many cases clearly just missed the point. The article’s tone and wording can be offensive to some readers, and it is easy (and sometimes convenient) to misinterpret. However, the author came prepared and a section of “6 Harsh Truths” specifically addresses rejection reflexes. It is not about money, not about renouncing your true self and not even about belittling you. It is just telling you that you are associated to what you do, not to what you potential you carry inside of you. If you want the world to see your true value, you need to make at least someone’s life better.
It still is a controversial article. I believe that “6 Harsh Truths” is indeed harsh, but indeed also truthful, and can help making you a better person. While you still may disagree with all or parts of it, you should at least think about it. Happiness takes effort.
I greatly enjoyed it.