brown bull on green glass field under grey and blue cloudy sky

A little while ago, I was reading a thread on Twitter, and a guy in the thread dropped this little nugget of gold. There’s a lot to unpack in that post and I’m not going to go into it too much. Suffice it to say, it got me thinking. I’ll let you guys read it for yourself and do your own unpacking of it.

Here’s a few thoughts that I had about it though:

A beef-only thinker is someone you cannot simply talk to. Anything that is not an expression of pure, unqualified support for whatever they are doing or saying is received as a mark of disrespect, and a provocation to conflict. From there, you can only crash into honor-based conflict mode, or back away and disengage.

I’ve encountered a lot of people on the Internet of Beefs, which is pretty much all of social media these days. You can’t have a conversation with them, you can’t talk to them unless it is in support of whatever their beef is. Think about binary thinking and lack of nuance here. Everything is black or white, everything is us versus them. The beefs that people have range from the large scale, global type of stuff, such as climate change, down to the absolutely ridiculous like, if you don’t have kids, your opinion counts for less to society at large.

I swear sometimes that people have nothing better to do in their lives except try and stir up outrage. Imagine that your life is so great, so absolutely “normal,” that you have to go out onto the internet and pick a fight over nothing. Beefing for the sake of beefing.

To continue operating in public spaces without being drawn into the conflict, you have to build an arsenal of passive-aggressive behaviors like subtweeting, ghosting, blocking, and muting – all while ignoring beef-only thinkers calling you out furiously as dishonorable and cowardly, and trying to bait you into active aggression.

This is one of the parts that drives me nuts. The fact that you have to literally duck your head and monitor what you say, just so that you can avoid a conflict with someone who literally has nothing better to do than stir up conflict.

The article goes on to describe what are known as Mooks and Knights:

A mook is an involuntary anonymous, fungible, angry figure desperate to be seen as significant. I was a mook over a year ago. I’ll admit it. I was raging for the sake of raging. Being a mook is mostly about taking sides in somebody else’s fight, whatever that cause may be. It’s mostly opt-in, which means you get to decide if you want to participate or not. You get to choose if your stress levels go up or not. You get to do this every time you engage.

Knights are the guys who have the cause that the mooks fight for. Here’s the thing though:

The conflict is happening for the sake of conflict itself. The goal isn’t to end the fight, but to keep it going, ideally without end. A war without end. A beef that never ends. Fighting for the sake of fighting. This is outrage culture.

The only reason for the fight is to sustain the fight, there really isn’t a strategy to all of this except to sustain and stretch out the beef. The knights are the instigators for the most part and the mooks are the cannon fodder and combat soldiers.

Why the beefing?

The mark of a knight of the vast round table of the Internet of Beefs is the relentless pursuit of the Holy Grift. A mercantile mission for the end of history…..

[P]ush come to shove, that the grifting motive will rule behavior rather than ideological ends. The grifters keep the culture war going…

It’s all about making money and getting the clicks basically. In many cases I think it’s all about trying to remain relevant. Especially when you are a knight of the Internet of Beefs and you need to make sure that the cash keeps flowing in.

While the mooks fight, the knights make money.

And there it is. Have a knight write a tweet or a post of some beefy outrage, whether it’s “real” or not, whether it truly matters or not, (in my experience, it usually doesn’t matter) add a link to the knight’s latest course, book, or seminar, click send, and there you have it. Agitate the mooks and get them fired up so that the dumpster fires get started and then bystanders as well as other mooks join in the foray and links to products and services get clicked. Money is made.

Get people agitated and they want to buy something to alleviate their agitation. It’s one of the oldest sales tricks in the book. It’s similar to creating a problem for someone and then selling them the solution to the very problem you created for them.

I’m not shitting on guys who want to make money, by all means, make your money. Do your thing. I’m just choosing to opt-out of the Internet of Beefs. I’m choosing to not be a mook anymore.

I don’t need to engage in the ‘rage. I don’t need to buy another course or book or whatever it is that is being sold. I’ll be fine without it.

Opting out is a great thing:

Your stress levels fall dramatically. Life tends to “slow down” somewhat. Colors, sounds, and the taste of things has become more vibrant. Maybe that last one about vibrancy is only something that I have experienced, it may not apply to you, but hey, you can always find out for yourself by trying the opt-out route. At a bare minimum, it won’t hurt you to try it.

Please give that article that I linked to at the beginning a full read. It might be one of those “aha moments” for you like it was for me. At the very least, it allowed me to see what was going on around me on the internet and it gave me a way to literally predict what is or was going to happen next.

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Knights and Dragons Part Three

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Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here.

The sounds of shrieks and pain and anger filled the air. The battle had indeed come, and by the sound of it, it was ferocious.

The woman looked worriedly at the Wizard. He pointed to a stone staircase, gesturing for her to climb. They climbed the stairs and went through a thick wooden door into a parapet. The Wizard indicated that they were going to climb the spiral staircase, going up, ever up, until they reached the room that opened up onto the ramparts.

The woman would glance through the occasional window to the battle below. All she could see was men fighting men, horses galloping around and rearing up, and all she could hear were the cries of men and sounds of steel upon steel.

After a time, they reached a door that lead to the ramparts. The woman and the Wizard stopped to look out an accompanying window to look upon the carnage below. Down below and outside of the castle walls, the battle was coming to a peak. Men fighting men. Men screaming. Men burning. Men crawling away. Men dying.

“What is this?!” She exclaimed. “I see the knights below fighting, and yet I see not the Black Knight or any of his men?!”

“That is because there is no Black Knight, nor any men that are his. Those men did not come here for the Black Knight. They came here for the Dragon. Those men are fighting each other and fighting with themselves,” said the Wizard.

“The Dragon?! They came here for the Dragon?” She said.

“Of course they did my love, that is what is different this time. In the past, they came for the Black Knight, but today, today they come for the Dragon. I figured that out when I saw the flames and the bodies.”

“But is the Dragon here?” She queried, looking around through the window up at the sky and gazing out at the horizon.

“Of course not. Not yet anyways. But you know that.” The Wizard said as he gently poked her in the ribs.

“Stop it!” She giggled. “How is it that some of them are burning then?”

“They are setting themselves on fire. Watch and see.” The Wizard pointed to a couple of knights who were applying pitch to themselves. A moment later, another knight appeared with a burning torch, to which he touched it to an extended arm. The knight went up in flames almost immediately. The knight then ran about wildly, screaming and flayling his arms about him. His entire body engulfed in flames.

“The Dragon! The Dragon got me!” He shrieked. “You men must avenge me and slay that Dragon for he has smote me with his terrible fire!” And with that, the knight collapsed onto the battlefield and began rolling around. Other knights ran to his aide, with blankets in hand, throwing them on top of the burning knight, hoping to smother the flames.

Another knight was on his knees, screaming at the top of his lungs, “My Lady! I have been slain for you! And I gladly die for you! If only I had more lives to give, I would gladly give them!” And with that, the knight put the hilt of his sword into the ground, placed the tip onto his chest, and impaled himself upon it.

This scene played itself out over many times as the Wizard and the woman watched from above. Men setting themselves on fire, some having the flames extinguished before they met their fate, others not so fortunate. Men put their sword hilts into the ground and drove themselves down on top of them, committing suicide with the words, “M’Lady!” upon their dying lips. Men fighting each other, saying to one another, “Dragon! You have arrived! I will slay thee!” while clashing their swords against one another. Men being thrown from their frightened and rearing horses, some to be so unfortunate as to be trampled underfoot by their own steeds.

The Wizard and the woman watched as the battle raged on, but the Wizard grew tired. “It’s time, my dear. I’ll signal for you when it’s time for you to come. Until then, wait here.”

The Wizard then strode out onto the ramparts, listening to the fighting below. “This is where it always gets interesting,” he thought. “It doesn’t hurt, exactly, it just feels a little strange. And you would think that I would have gotten used to it after all of these years.”

The transformation began as he was thinking to himself. His feet and arms grew heavy. His face began to stretch and morph. He looked down at his arms and saw the scales pushing through his skin, the dark green almost black color, coming out. He pulled his cloak off of himself absently, tossing it away. “I won’t be needing that for awhile,” he thought. His weight began to increase as he began to elongate, his body getting heavy. After a moment, he could no longer walk on two legs and so he leaned forward and continued on all fours, his powerful, scaly forearms rippling with muscle.

Talons shot out from where his fingers had once been. Only a small amount of blood had been lost this time. The part that felt the most strange though, the part that he still hadn’t gotten used to, was the leathery wings that sprouted up out of his back. He glanced momentarily at them as he extended them to their full width and shook them, beating the air.

The Wizard who was now the Dragon, put his front legs, what had been his forearms onto the rampart and gazed out over the battlefield. None of the knights had seen his transformation, and none of them had seen him yet. None had even bothered to look up.

“Excuse me!” He coughed. His voice was a deep, low, rumbling bass.

The fighting, burning, and dying continued as before.

“I said, excuse me!” He said even louder, his voice shaking the walls, and still nothing from the battlefield below.

“Oh for fuck’s sake!” He roared as he lifted his massive head to the sky and shot out a huge arcing stream of fire. It was red and orange with flecks of green. It was huge, it was brilliant, and it was deadly. The fires from the pitch below paled in comparison.

The fighting and shrieking below stopped at once, as if someone had turned off the volume. All heads turned towards the castle ramparts. A hush descended upon the knights. As a collective everyone had inhaled and were now waiting to release their breath.

“Look upon me you White Knights!” The Dragon roared. “And know this! I walk amongst you. I live amongst you. I know your tales, I’ve heard your secrets, and I know that you know not what you do! You men down there, claiming to fight me, you know nothing. None of you has ever seen a Dragon until this day, and none of you have ever fought one. I would know because the last time Man and Dragon actually fought was over four hundred years ago, and I was the one who fought a Man.”

“He was more of a Knight than any of you will ever be. He actually faced his fears and took me head on. If only you cowards below would dare to do the same. But no, you would rather die on your own swords then face true adversity. You would rather set yourselves and each other on fire and claim a fake victory to one another to bolster your own egos instead of actually facing me. You claim you came here to fight me for your Lady’s Honor. So here I am! Come and fight me! Take me on if you dare!”

Shrieks of horror and pure terror filled the battlefield below. Men grabbed up the reins of terrified mounts and beat a hasty retreat. Men dropped their swords and shields where they stood and began to run.

“Before you go, know this!” The Dragon called after them. He turned his head towards the parpet, and with a taloned claw, beckoned the woman to come to him. As she approached, he turned and faced his fleeing adversaries.

“All women yearn for and understand a Dragon!” He called out. “I do not take them against their wills, for they come to me willingly. You with your codes and your ideals, your women care nothing for these things. They want adventure, they want to feel, and they want to live! I see them for who and what they are, and they know me for what I am. They come to me willingly, gratefully.”

The woman placed her arms around the Dragon’s neck as he finished, “Look upon me you White Knights, look upon me and despair!” The Dragon then shot a jet of liquid fire at the retreating knights’ feet, further speeding up their retreat.

As the sound of the shrieks and cries of terror diminished and the smoke from the fire began to clear, one lone Knight stepped forward.

The Dragon and the woman looked down upon him with interest.

The Knight pulled his sword from his scabbard and then threw the blade onto the ground.

“What is this?” The Dragon grumbled aloud to himself.

The Knight then removed his helmet, looked at it for a moment, and then threw it aside.

“Will you teach me? Dragon? Will you teach me your ways and how to be like you? Will you make me into a Dragon like you were once made yourself?” The Knight asked.

“Oh, this is going to be interesting.” Chuckled the Dragon as he turned and looked down at his smiling woman.

The End

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Knights And Dragons Part Two

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Part 1 can be found here.

Dragons are real and they walk amongst us. Men think that they are either a figment of imagination, a fiction, or that they did actually exist at one point in history, but are now extinct. But they are neither. They do exist, and they do walk among us. – The Wizard.

“How do I know they are real? Because I have seen them. I’ve seen them walking among men. I’ve seen them in the shops and the bizarres. I’ve seen them serving wine to barons and kings and warlords. I even knew one that was a king of a kingdom, but that was a long time ago. I’ve seen them interacting with the children of the kingdom and I’ve seen one of them playing a lyre.”

“I’ve heard the knights telling their stories about how they have seen a dragon. I’ve heard them talk about riding deep into the woods or into some foreign countryside, and finding a dragon in his den, his lair. I’ve heard them regale each other with tales of battle with these dragons, and of course, the knight would always win. How else could he be telling his tale? Of course, it’s all a lie. There hasn’t been a genuine sighting of a dragon in over one hundred years. And the last time that man and dragon faced each other down in genuine combat has been over four hundred years ago. I know, because I witnessed it. I was there.”

“The truth is, these men, these knights, wouldn’t know what to do with a dragon if they knew that they had actually encountered one. They definitely wouldn’t know how to fight one. But who am I to argue with them? They wouldn’t listen to me if I told them, and they wouldn’t believe me if they did deign to listen. And that’s okay, their stories are amusing to me, and besides a beautiful woman, there is nothing more that I like to do than have a good tale and a good laugh. I live for a good story, a good tale, and I love to laugh.”

“When did dragons come about? That I don’t know. Perhaps they have been around since the beginning. They’ve been around longer than I have, and I have been around for a very long time. I do know that some dragons are born, but they are extremely rare. Most are created. Neither is better or necessarily stronger or more powerful than the other.”

“What’s that? Why yes, most dragons are actually created. You didn’t know that did you? Of course you didn’t, but that’s because you are not a dragon, and until very recently, at least to your knowledge, you had never seen or met a dragon. I promise you, you have. You just didn’t know it at the time.”

“How are dragons created? That’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked. First, you have to have met a dragon, and know that they are a dragon. Dragons haven’t gone around flaunting their ‘dragon status’ as it were, in a very long time. Then you would have to ask the dragon if they would be willing to ‘re-create’ you in their image. Some might be flattered and honored at your request, and they might grant it. Most of the time though, they would likely refuse you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because being a dragon is a ‘curse,’ but more like most people couldn’t actually handle being a dragon. You definitely become an outsider to your community if you do, and if the knights knew that you existed and you were around, they would most likely come after you. That can be a huge headache.”

“But let’s say that you met a dragon, and you knew it was a dragon, and you asked to become a dragon, like him, and he accepted your request? He would transfer some of his ‘essence’ to you. It could be some of his blood, it could be a bite or a scratch. It could come from his saliva. Every dragon has a different way of transferring his ‘essence’ to you. No two dragons are really the same when it comes to that. After the transference is done, the dragon would take you under his wing, both metaphorically and literally and teach you what you need to know now that you are a dragon. He would tutor you in the ways of transformation, of flight, and of course, of fire. That tutoring could go on for years and years, or it could only take a few months to a year. That all depends on you, the new dragon, and your willingness to learn, and what experiences you have already brought to your transformation.”

“After that, you are free to do as you choose. You get to go on and live your life. You get to do what you want to do and have your adventures. You would most likely see and meet other dragons, because after all, like knows like. You would see them wherever they are and you would both smile and nod at each other, giving each other a wink. You might even make friends with some of the other dragons that are out there, and you would probably do things with them. There’s nothing more magnificent than watching a couple or a group of dragons doing things in tandem. It is truly a sight to behold.”

“There is more that I could tell you, but time is running short and I want to go. It’s time we get down to the castle and see what is afoot. Are you ready?”

“I’m ready,” she beamed. She was stunning. All dressed and ready to go, her radiant hair down over her shoulders, touching the swell of her breasts. Her clothing back on, she was truly beautiful.

“You look amazing my dear, but then again, you look better naked in my bed,” said the Wizard.

“You stop!” She blushed and punched him lightly on the shoulder as he put an arm around her waist and tickled the small of her back.

“Maybe we should stay here yet a little while longer,” he teased. “The knights aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and my appetite is back.”

“You’re incorrigible!” She said with false indignation, giggling and playfully slapping at the Wizard.

“Yes I am. And that is what you love about me.” He said as he lightly bit her ear. “But we’ve fooled around long enough, it’s time to go and see what there is to be seen.”

The Wizard pulled the woman close to him and uttered an incantation, just barely under his breath.

Moments later, they were standing in the courtyard of the castle that was in the valley below. The screams of combat could be heard from over the castle walls, the sounds of swords on shields and armor pierced the air; the din and cacophony was enormous. The battle had been joined.

To be continued…

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