Some days ago “I wrote an answer at Quora”; but I’ve missed a detail: the answer was more of a post than an answer. Therefore here is the story:
The (anonymous) question:
“I am what one would call a self made man. Put myself through college and business school by working hard, no grants, no loans, I worked full time ++ during the day and went to school full time at night. I achieved financial security in about 12 years (including college years) from moving to the US (English is not my primary language), I am a successful entrepreneur, happily married, fit, healthy and all. When people ask me what is my “secret” I do tell them that it is no secret, just common sense, commitment and hard work; I offer to explain things to them, point them to books/articles and regiments that would lead them to the right direction; but all they want are shortcuts and tricks to go overnight from dumb to educated; from financially broke to riches; from fat to fit; from emotionally broke to have a drop-dead partner; all without changing an iota of what they are doing, and without putting any effort.”
Now, you can imagine the egos this question spiked, ranging from “you’re stupid” to “you’re a narcissistic arrogant”, for over 20 detailed comments.
I can’t say why I didn’t buy the question from the beginning… Maybe because it looked so childishly genuine from one angle and so fake and evil from another…
Anyway, it took me quite long to read and read again all the answers and comments and after had them all clarified, read them again. I couldn’t tell whether the whole story was bothering or just amusing me. But it seems it was a false alternative: it did both.
It bothers me a lot seeing (almost) all the answers being “in-phase”. It bothers me seeing this melange of wrath, pain and boiling hate in all of these answers, a melange I have only encountered in modern Russian proletarian novels; I’d even go that far calling this constant tone of voice “a proletarian wrath”. Or “proletarian poison”.
What’s bothering me most, though, is the smell of decay in Quora, a strong and harsh taste of ”decadence”, that persists in any refined mind after such a long answer / comment journey: it seems Quora has already become a pool of mediocre moral values and false spirituality. Here is why:
Have you ever thought the question’s details (but the title) might as well describe John Stuart Mill’s life? Or Reuben Singh’s? Would your answers be the same in these cases? Perhaps not. Because those answers wouldn’t have been “appropriate” anymore, as they were not actual arguments, but only moral judgements: “your question is wrong”, “you are stupid”, “you are arrogant”, “we’ll teach you a lesson”, “your values are false but ours are genuine”, “read more”, “you’re culturally challenged”, “we are not your friends”, “you are impolite”, “you must be feeling this or that”, “we feel disgusted”.
When did Quora decayed into this? When did Quora start offering moral slaps for answers? When did it become a scolding nanny instead of a mature knowledge companion?
The funny side of the story is this: one person says he / she feels superior for some given reasons. The question itself, without any detail, is paradoxical: when you’re feeling like this, you never question your state. You just do things accordingly.
“I feel superior for this reason. Am I right?” – that’s a bizarre question, for now.
Imagine you’re easily lifting the heaviest weights in town then ask the crowd whether there may be something wrong with the weights themselves… This is either a show off or a childish behavior.
But the disjunction following made me laugh with a sigh: “Are all people stupid or am I only too smart?”. This way, the question becomes: “The difference between me and the rest of (my) world, in terms of intelligence, is too big in my favor”.
You’ve got it: there’s no question! This guy is not actually asking anybody anything, this person is simply admiring his…life. It’s like in “I’m so damn bright!”.
This is where I knew the stage was set, all the preparations were made and the popcorn was hot!
Somebody was saying: “poor guy, you need some culture, read some Nietzsche”…!
The funniest part is that this is Nietzsche, asking this question! The übermensch, the Superior Man! Think about it.
The details of the question this guy offered – they don’t count as an argument, as he never asked something. They’re just a proof he is not mad, as everything he mentioned about his life and his interactions are perfectly sound and logical.
(Although, I have to admit that “working full time during day and going to school full time during night” sounds a bit funny…)
I’d like to end this “answer” in a bitter tone: I’ve been advised many times to change the structure of my answers to meet this or that quality, mainly to expose my rationale behind my short answers. The bitter part is nobody feels anything strange about the quality of the questions, whether there actually is a question or not.
Quora answers are more and more like arrows springing towards anything that moves; it’s like everybody waits for the perfect opportunity and for the perfect excuse to release that arrow. Some of these arrows are aiming for good, some for bad; some of them are poisoned and some are just bitter.