In Praise of Reality Distortion

A little self-delusion's good for the soul.

In Praise of Reality Distortion

A little self-delusion's good for the soul.

Don't believe me?

It's healthy. Just... treat it like good drugs, keep it for yourself.

Why the hate?

I think two reasons. Firstly, because the cultural current of the past few decades has fully broken way to self-hate: hate your society, hate your body, hate your face, hate your whiteness, hate your wealth, hate your life. Maybe! Maybe it is indeed all a plot from the enemies of the west.

Or maybe... just the last throes of this chapter: the denouement before we change the world, again.

It doesn't help that those we most associate with distorted reality are a little fucked. Take Steve Jobs - the Wikipedia article on Reality Distortion directs you to the man himself, and as we all know, he had a nice line in persuasion and product development, but like any asshole, was probably best admired from afar.

Like Elon's many fanboys, those who heroise him too much are a little weird. Imagine if Superman was an egomaniac; people wouldn't want to stop a bullet with their eyeball.

And self-delusion, used right, is a superpower.

Imposter syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is victim language used by corporate slavedrivers and their helpful consultants in order to diminish you. This and other toxic concepts turn perfectly normal feelings into trauma, assume other people are what they pretend to be. No. Those feelings you feel are perfectly normal.

After all, outwardly mediocre people are capable of greatness at any moment. When a person is electrocuted and flung across the room, what propels them isn't the energy from the charge, but the sudden contraction of their own muscles. That is what full strength looks like; how desperate people perform feats of extraordinary strength in their desperation, like lifting a vehicle. It's why time slows down in a crisis, why dads have the best reflexes.

Does it really matter if cold exposure really does promote longevity and cut stress? When a thousand founders wake up for their morning grind and chug their MCT oil, does it really matter if it works?

Placebos are effective, even when you know it's a placebo.

So who cares? Their self-delusion builds empires.

Take the pill. Red pill, blue pill, whatever.

Reality is a mirror.


We have each of us embraced many delusions, and whatever keeps you going now certainly won't be the last.

When Salinger described poor Americans as temporarily dispossessed millionaires, for years I thought that was pejorative, but I now see it as it truly is: a rational and healthy coping mechanism is one of the world's most deteriorating, fourth world societies.

It's hopium that's the drug of the masses. A clarifying, good, kind hope that keeps us alive and patiently taking the next step forward.

If you feel you are kidding yourself, perhaps you are simply not wielding your self-delusion with the necessary artfulness.

I grew up deeply religious and found within that, the inner strength to retain perspective in the face of any shitty day, any bad meeting, all the trivial ups and downs of the day. When you're backed by The Divine, you're unstoppable. After all, there's no better inner game than the surefire belief you're going to heaven.

However you take it, empowerment requires the visceral shattering of mind-glass. One of my earliest bosses left a high-flying job in London to move herself and family to the coast of Costa Rica. They rented out cabanas, ran a pirate radio station, became interwoven with the community. Her kids didn't become uptight proto-serfs like their peers, but beach children, wild and free.

Years later, she visited.

I wish I could do that, I said to her and she looked at me kindly, but nonetheless like I was an idiot.

Because, of course, I could. These are things you must choose though. The idea that these midwit lives are far too literal; beneath us.

But to progress you must first believe.


One fears that too much delusion might lead to bad ends. Too much self-delusion and you detach yourself from reality.

Perhaps some level of neutral judgement is called for. If your beliefs empower you with the strength of the divine, that's one thing; if it takes you on crusades, has you burning down abortion clinics... maybe you've gone too far. Think of it as self-help, not selfhood - hold onto those beliefs with a little give.

And of course, I get it: I've seen enough Adam Curtis documentaries to know how fake realities turn us passive and basic. It's from him I learned how Putin used the techniques of surrealist theatre to utterly decimate emotional opposition to him. While delusion within yourself can be beautiful, be cautious: others attempting to delude you is usually awful.

If it helps, you already have a running start... there's a paper out now calling out the six convictions most of us have:

1. My experience is a reasonable reference.
2. I make correct assessments of the world.
3. I am good.
4. My group is a reasonable reference.
5. My group is good.
6. People's attributes (not context) shape outcomes.

Are these bad? They are foibles, natural and beautiful. To be aware of them is a blessing, but it is my view that some level of delusion is a prerequisite to remain stable in an insane world.

Or as I see it, a gorgeous and fulfilling world that requires a shift in perspective.

If you dream of the world being better, dream harder; it's time to go pro.

Find the truths you know to cling to, and the lies that make you whole.

Don't imagine for a second that everyone else is living a more authentic version of themselves.

Their reality is no truer than yours.