“Nobody told me there’d be days like these; strange days indeed, most peculiar mama.” – John Lennon

What if you woke up one day in a bizarro world overrun with people whose self-image is a strangely twisted version of reality. People who say anything but what they mean and rarely mean anything they say. What would that be like?

Criminals who act like victims.

Disingenuous phonies spouting off about authenticity.

Rabid protesters exercising their right to free speech to silence those they disagree with.

Stores about fake news on notorious fake news sites.

Entitled people with their hands out calling hardworking businesspeople greedy.

Lying politicians who make a living accusing their opponents of lying.

Narrow-minded and elitist diversity and inclusion activists.

A-holes who say life is too short to work with a-holes.

Entrepreneurs who’ve never run a business, hired an employee or raised capital.

Best-selling authors who’ve sold maybe 50 copies of a book they self-published.

Self-proclaimed experts doing podcasts from their parents’ basements.

Life coaches whose own lives are completely screwed up.

People who really believe that a handheld gadget makes them special, powerful, capable of changing the world.

When people say, “The fact is …,” the next thing out of their mouths is usually an unsubstantiated opinion.

Imagine that? I’ve been watching our world become that bizarro world for years and years now. Whenever I think it can’t get any more bizarre, it does. John Lennon wrote “Nobody Told Me” in 1980. He must be turning in his grave.

I guess the rampant public reinforcement of bad behavior is just making more and more of us think it’s cool. Bad behavior is becoming the cultural norm. It certainly seems that way.

The question is, how did we get here? How did we become a society full of idiots, nuts and jerks who think they’re the only smart, sane and nice ones in the room?

I can only think of two ways it can happen. Either they’re all on the narcissistic – psychopathic personality disorder spectrum, or those twisted views have been consistently reinforced their entire lives – at home, in school, on TV, online, everywhere.

Of course, those two conditions are not mutually exclusive; the latter can certainly cause the former. I suspect that is indeed the case.

Here’s the thing. If you’re brought up with a strong work ethic, a sense of personal accountability, a clear distinction between right and wrong, a belief that you can overcome adversity and achieve all you’re capable of achieving, you couldn’t possibly behave the way the bizarros do. And the bizarros think that’s all a bunch of nonsense.

That, I believe, is the essential divide in our country – throughout western civilization, actually. The great irony, of course, is that, whichever side of the divide you’re on, your beliefs will be self-fulfilling. Of course, bad things happen to good people, but being disingenuous only makes things worse. If you live a lie, that’s all your life will ever be.

Image credit: DC Comics

  • Svenska

    This is the best article I have read in a very long time. Thank you.

  • Brad

    Thought provoking: The bizarro world examples are sad and very real ironies (vs. rain on your wedding day which is merely unfortunate). Since what we know of the world and universe is that nearly everything is cyclical does the human race stop one day and go “WHHHhaaaaatttt??” and this turns at one point or is Idiocracy really a clairvoyant documentary?

    • Steve Tobak

      Hmm. Macroeconomic trends tend to be cyclical. Political trends tend to be huge pendulum swings. But cultural trends tend to be neither, at least not over the past few hundred years. I’m afraid it’s Idiocracy, here we come.

  • Tracy

    I think Steven simply labels anything he isn’t interested in understanding as “bizarro.” His examples are decontextualized half-truths. Another tune on the old violin.

    • Steve Tobak

      Observations, not labels. Besides, I understand what’s going on here all too well: If you positively reinforce bad behavior, guess what you get? And it’s Stephen to you. 😉

  • Mike from Russia

    Brilliant, as always, Steve! Always enjoy your postings. Everything you are saying is true, and 3X true in that. Too bad that Morons can’t be educated. It all comes from our “education” system which start teaching children in the 2nd grade how to use condoms, but never mentions the Constitution, REAL history, etc. Our public schools and universities became an American version of madrasa, which only goal is indoctrination, not education. Thanks to the CRIMINALS in our education this country – and much of the “Western Civilization” – goes down in history as Roman Empire had. You may be our present version of Edward Gibbon; does it make you proud or sad?

    • Steve Tobak

      Well, I’m not ready to write the Rise and Fall of the America just yet. As long as we have free speech, strong leaders, and a democratic system that governs functionally and intelligently, we should be OK. Oh, um … never mind.

  • SamHanson

    When I was a child (I’m 27), TV shows often promoted and celebrated being rude, mean, loud, ill mannered and worst of all; lying is OK. Sure it would sometimes show how lying gets you in trouble, but for the most part, characters who lie get away with it. That’s the overall tone I got.

    Education system stopped educating, no more values or morals – everything is acceptable so long as you don’t hurt anybody. It’s a big joke.

    That may be, one of the reasons you see what you’re seeing today.