I can’t pinpoint exactly when I stopped believing. If I had to guess, I’d say it was around the beginning of 2018. The seed took root much earlier—I can pinpoint that date: March 2013—but by the close of 2017 I’d simply taken too much in, had seen too many lies exposed to avoid absolute disillusionment. And ignorance may be bliss, but I wouldn’t go back to the way things were.
I’m not talking about God, as you might be thinking. Rather, I’m talking about American cultural mythology. You know, nation of immigrants, magic dirt, melting pot, we’re the good guys, rah rah tolerance, etc.
The reality is America is a grasping empire, not a nation. Most of the nations under the American empire do not believe in the American mythology at all. There is no shared belief system in America, and worse, much of the cultural mythology my particular nation does believe keeps us from acting in our own interest. I’m not going to get into the details here, because if I did, I would be marking myself for destruction. Plus it’s not all that relevant to the purpose of this site.
But the particularly relevant consequence of my disbelief is I no longer enjoy most (nearly all) modern Western fiction. By “modern” I mean roughly post-1950. I own hundreds of physical books and I haven’t felt moved to pick one up in at least a year. My kindle has gone untouched so long I’m not even sure where it is. I simply cannot stay engaged with stories that are built on assumptions I know to be false. It mostly comes down to people acting in ways that people don’t really act unless they’ve been programmed to be good little PC robots, or at least feel like they need to fake it to survive. The actual manifestation varies, but it’s usually something along the lines of absolute individualism where culture seems to have no meaning, or else utopic multiculturalism where everybody just gets along even when their cultures are diametrically opposed. It’s absurd.
I’ve always considered “getting people right” to be the core requirement of a good story, because the characters are what I care about. If I can’t see the characters as real people who are behaving in ways that make sense, it breaks immersion. As my understanding of human nature has changed over the last few years, it has just become incredibly obvious to me how wrong most post-WWII writers got the characters in their stories.
Well, there’s not much I can do about it. I just rely on anime and manga for my entertainment now, and I’ll be working my way through my vast collection of pre-WWII pulp stories. Maybe I’ll get back into translated Russian litRPGs. Those are amusing, even if most of the authors don’t understand narrative structure.