A great deal of fiction–possibly the majority–is dedicated to the fantasy of having some control over your life. Superman and Batman are strong enough that they can beat up (or otherwise stop) the bad guys, and don’t get sued or put in prison for their vigilante activities. Luke Skywalker gets in a little plane and shoots a laser beam into a hole and thereby brings down an entire Death Star. Voldemort gets pissed off at everyone for treating him shittily and so becomes the world’s most powerful wizard and sets out to make the world burn; Harry Potter uses his own magic power to defeat evil.
One of the most horrible villains in the Harry Potter series isn’t over-the top, sad-backstory Voldemort, but Dolores Umbridge–a plump Hogwartz teacher who dresses in pink, decorates with fluffy pink curtains and china plates with pictures of kittens on them, and makes Harry Potter write apologies in his own blood for, IIRC, having honestly states that Voldemort was back. She is the image of sweetness and propriety while torturing students and helping Voldemort, and there’s nothing Harry and his friends can do to stop her from using the official wizarding world bureaucracy to take over his school, at least until they lure her into the forest and trick her into getting abducted by centaurs.
In real life there are many Doloreses, but no centaurs.
In real life, it is quite illegal to get in a fight (of any kind) with anyone. Even cursing at someone can be “verbal assault.” The desire for revenge against those who’ve wronged you may be a basic human instinct (I am quite certain it is,) but revenge is illegal. Oh, yes, the state can take revenge–the state can lock people up or even put them to death–but ordinary citizens are not allowed to track down miscreants and beat the shit out of them. It is very, very illegal.
What do you do when someone wrongs you?
Here, fill out this form; talk to these people. If your case matches our criteria, something may be done–in months, or years. Here’s some more paperwork.
Nope, sorry, you don’t meet the criteria. There is nothing you can do.
The sheer amount of paperwork to keep track of in American society is overwhelming. I have friends who’ve lived in both America and China; the Chinese do not suffer under half the paperwork burden we do.
“Reducing overhead” remains one of my #1 political agenda items.
Paperwork, bureaucracy, and red tape are crushing our economy. They are probably worse than military spending, welfare, and everything else people hate that the government does combined. And they destroy people’s lives by forcing them to spend their time doing fucking paperwork instead of living.
And we do paperwork because we aren’t allowed to punch each other anymore.
If a mining company destroys a community by dumping poison waste into the local drinking water, the natural consequence is that the affected locals find the CEO, tie him to a chair, and drop him in the river. Today you file a class-action lawsuit and petition the local city officials to switch drinking water sources and groan in frustration as nothing happens for three decades straight.
Living in cities (as most of us do) means coming into constant contact with other people. Some of those people are nice, some are mean, and most are just irrelevant. You pass them on your way to work (or they pass you), ignore them at lunch and try not to make eye contact with them on the street.
Don’t make too much noise; the neighbors might hear you.
I was just talking to someone who was vociferously complaining that their neighbors “slam their car doors” at 2 am. And what will they do? Ask their neighbors to close their doors more softly? Or call the police to report a noise complaint? Probably the latter.
Everyone has to dial down their personalities, close up, avoid the people around themselves to avoid conflicts with the hundreds (or thousands) of people they pass by every day, otherwise lawsuits or police officers get involved.
Cities are intolerable.
There is no power in real life; no one (except maybe lawyers, police officers, and some politicians,) has any power.
For all my disagreement with them, I understand where the BLM crowd and their ilk are coming from: they feel powerless. The system is against them (it’s against everyone.)
Pretty much the only easy way to get power in modern society is to assemble a Twitter mob and attack someone. Maybe you can get them uninvited to a con, or kicked out of a university. Maybe you can just make them cry: power.
It’s the closest we come to bloodying a bully’s nose.
You might say the Twitter mob is the bully.
Yes, that’s the entire point. The bully is the one with the power.
A friend of mine was abused as a child. It’s powerless enough just being a child; everyone else is bigger than you. You must constantly obey others–teachers, parents, even older siblings and bigger kids on the playground. But to be beaten by your parents is another level entirely. And no one saved my friend. They grew up, broken, and devoted their life to becoming the biggest, baddest, meanest person around so they wouldn’t be hurt again.
Of course, then the police got them.
Even when something doesn’t involve conflict–just a simple change that would benefit everyone involved–it’s virtually impossible to get anything done. Take milk. Pediatricians overwhelmingly agree that children should drink regular–4%, full-fat, whole–milk, not low-fat or fat-free milk. The low fat milks are specialty diet products for people who are on a diet, and pediatricians don’t advise putting your kid on a diet unless they truly need to be on one, because calorie restriction can be really unhealthy when your body is supposed to be growing. Despite this, my kids’ school only serves low-fat and fat free milk, and since no one who has the actual power to make purchasing decisions gives a shit that this is actually unhealthy for kids, only an insane amount of protesting on my part (say, convincing a few hundred parents to sign a petition to change the milk) could get them to change the milk to the variety it is supposed to be.
And this is accompanied by the infuriating feeling that people are only pretending to listen, because they never actually change anything.
So the best we can do is put on a movie or pic up a book and read about someone else–the girl who wins the super handsome hunk, the hero who defeats the evil bad guy–who gets to be powerful and control their life.