HOW TO BE AN ETHICAL ASSHOLE
When we think of assholes we don’t like, we think of people who are unethical. They lie, cheat, or steal to get their way.
Yes, these people are assholes. But they are also unethical. Let’s put this in terms of an SAT question:
- All unethical people are unlikeable
- All unlikeable people are assholes
TRUE or FALSE: All assholes are unethical.
- A: TRUE, I’m bad at logic
- B: TRUE, fuck you Manson! Only I decide what’s true!
- C: NEITHER, this question violates my religious beliefs
- D: FALSE, while all unethical people are assholes, not all assholes are unethical
The correct answer is ‘D’.
Yes, there is such thing as an ethical asshole. And, I would argue, ethical assholes are national treasures. We need ethical assholes because they’re the only thing protecting us from the unethical assholes.
So, assuming you’re ethical, how does one become more of an asshole? 6
Well, as we’ve established, some people are born with it. Some people are just naturally very disagreeable. They think people are pretty shitty, in general, so they don’t care if people don’t like them.
But for those who are agreeable, learning to be an asshole is a skill that must be practiced. The same way an introvert must practice using extraverted skills when necessary, the agreeable person must learn to be disagreeable when necessary, lest they get walked over.
Here are a few steps to becoming more of an asshole:
1. DECIDE WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT THAN PEOPLE’S FEELINGS
Most people let their life be dictated by feelings—both their own feelings and others’. They don’t even realize this because they haven’t stopped to think about it. But, as I’ve written before, if you allow your life to be dictated by feelings, then you’re going to be stuck in a shithole forever.
The key to developing the willingness to upset other people is to understand what’s more important than them being upset. Would you hurt someone’s feelings to save a dying family member? Yeah, probably. What about to save your career? I would hope so (some people probably don’t). What about to promote a good cause you care about?
Unethical assholes are assholes because they care about themselves more than others. They are narcissistic and see the world only in terms of what benefits themselves. Obviously, that’s bad. They are unethical because their cause is bad. Finding a good cause beyond one’s own interests is the first step to becoming an ethical asshole.
2. GET GOOD AT FEELING BAD
Most people who are too nice think they are nice because they care too much about other people’s feelings. They say to themselves, “Well, I could never say that to her, because she’ll feel bad.” But they’re lying to themselves. They think they’re being altruistic, but they’re not.
They don’t want to say it to her because they’ll make themselves feel bad. Their sympathy for others is a tool that holds them back. They won’t hurt others’ feelings because then they’ll feel bad for that person and they can’t stand to feel bad themselves.
Get good at feeling bad and you’ll become okay at making others feel bad when necessary. I just got off the phone with a friend last night. I chewed him out for doing something pretty stupid that involved me. He felt awful. I feel awful that he feels awful. But I also know that it’s a good thing that we both feel awful. It’s for a good cause. So I can bear it.
But for me to be able to make him feel awful, I first need to be capable of feeling awful myself.
3. LEAN IN TO PAINFUL HONESTY
We’ve all been in that situation where we want to say something that’s important but there’s also a good chance that we’ll upset someone if we say it. There’s that uncomfortable tension inside us as we go back and forth on whether we should say it or not.
Create a new rule for yourself: if there’s something uncomfortable that you believe is important to say, just say it. Don’t think about it. Just trust that in the long run, more times than not, you’ll be happy that you said it. In fact, chances are, in the long run, other people will be glad you said it.
The first few times you’re an asshole in this way, it’ll feel terrifying. But once you get some of that positive social feedback, you’ll start feeling more comfortable with it. And it will come more naturally. You’ll be an asshole. But you’ll be their asshole.
Because here’s the funny thing you’ll notice once you start to hone your asshole skills: other people will come up to you privately, once everyone else has left the room, or maybe corner you in a remote hallway somewhere, and, while looking over their shoulders to make sure no one else can hear, they’ll say, “Hey, thank you for saying that. My god, that really needed to be said. I’m so glad you did.”
This will begin to happen all the time. In fact, it’s shocking how much non-assholes rely on ethical assholes to go to bat for them.
You know, kind of like what I’m doing now, you candy-ass snowflakes. Seriously people, you’re fucking welcome. You know how many times I’ve stuck my neck out for shit you care about but are too scared to say? Christ on a cupcake. Maybe get off your asses every once in a while, eh? Now, get the fuck out of here. I have a book to write.