People are bad. Full stop.


This one is one I've been struggling with for a really long time and with every new horrific event, it's getting worse.

It's causing a lot of internal conflict because at the core my inherent nature is to naively believe in the good in the world and, by extension, people. That belief is what everything, my world view, my belief system, my moral compass, my actions are build on. Be good. Do good. Every single person has that potential if only they receive the necessary support, education, sobering exerperience, .... kindness.

I'm not religious, so I don't think people need to 'be good' in order to go to Heaven or something of the sorts. I also don't belief in Karma. But I do belief in actio equals reactio. We're cultural beings and social learners.

However, every single day actions of people show me that people - are not good. That they're doing and thinking and believing things that don't even begin to compute for me. In my lived experience - not what I want it to be and want to belief - people as a whole are awful. At best, they're indifferent, which ... well.... same same.

Now, those statements scream cognitive distortions.

Black and white thinking.

Basically PTSD Crit D. 2: Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world

But how can this be exaggerated if there's proof literally every single day?

Now, the counters usually are it's observation/survey bias. Or that I'm ignoring all the good people doing a lot of good things.

But those seem to be outliers. If they actually made a real difference, we wouldn't still be fighting the same issues, experiencing the same horrific events, even after decades, centuries, millenia. We wouldn't have countries forcefully and armed invade other countries, killing people, raping women. We wouldn't have an entire country merely shrug that millions of people died from a preventable disease. We wouldn't have 19 dead elementary school children 23 years after Columbine.

How can it be a cognitive distortion if every time I defiently want to continue believing in the good in the world it punches me in the face by illustrating in realtime just how bad people are and continue to be?

Are we not good enough?
Are we not brave enough?
To become something greater
Than the violence in our nature

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I think people aren't inherently good or bad, but just extremely gullible. (Maybe "social" is a better word there.) In general, most Americans now consume media and join groups that tell them not only that it's OK to be selfish, but also that being empathetic is bad, stupid, and weak. It hasn't always been that way here - at least when it comes to the majority in-groups looking out for the majority in-groups.

That's just one piece of a very large puzzle but it's what sprung immediately to mind.


But how can this be exaggerated if there's proof literally every single day?
There’s proof that pathogenic microbes exist every single day.

Doesn’t negate the facts that
- other kinds of microbes exist
- the vast overwhelming majority of microbes are not pathogenic (somewhere between a billion and a trillion microbes in the world… but only apx 1,400 of them are human pathogens).

Pathogenic microbes? Are big bad scary motherf*ckers, as a whole.

They’ve inarguably caused more human death and suffering than every other source… combined. Even if we got taken out by an asteroid tomorrow? That would only kill the number of people alive, today. Pathogens have taken out giant freaking swaths of mankind -including laying low whole civilizations- for tens of thousands of years. And will continue to do so.

But we wouldn’t have air to breathe, clean water -or beer! 😉- to drink, soil to support both living plants & animals as well as recycle dead ones, and countless other necessary &/or useful things without the “beneficial” microbes, and that’s still not even touching the ones that don’t directly support life on this planet -as far as we know- but also do no harm.

Pathogens? f*ck our shit up.

But it is not only a massive exaggeration to believe all/most microbes are pathogens, or at least all the “important” ones, but factually untrue. As without microbes? This planet could not sustain life. Full stop.

I don’t see people as much different. Some people? f*ck our shit up… or are big bad scary motherf*ckers.. as we blithely walk around reaping the benefits of living in a world -or parts of the world- vibrant with amazing people we’ll never know, amidst a vast backdrop of those mostly harmless.

But then? I’ve actually been completely alone, before on a couple/few occasions. Living amongst people -with both the benefits and drawbacks- is an ongoing series of choices for me.


Pathogenic microbes? Are big bad scary motherf*ckers, as a whole.

the vast overwhelming majority of microbes are not pathogenic

countless other necessary &/or useful things without the “beneficial” microbes, and that’s still not even touching the ones that don’t directly support life on this planet -as far as we know- but also do no harm.

I don’t see people as much different.

Pathogens don't make active decisions. They don't *intend* to do us harm. They don't plot. They don't have a concept of being 'bad scary motherf*ckers'. All they 'care' about is to propagate their DNA in the best and cost effective way possible. If they cause too much harm, eventually they'll be selected against and go extinct.

Evolutionary arms race stuff.

Similarly, the good beneficial ones don't do this to do us a favor. They're just not causing harm so there's no evolutionary pressure for them to be selected against. It's the equivalent of people just being indifferent and just minding their own business. But they're also not doing anything to prevent the pathogens from being bad.

Humans have theory of mind. We have culture. We can reflect on our actions, after and before.

Hence, no, not the same.

mostly harmless.

Happy Towel Day :)


People (cumulative) are awful, selfish, violent, short-sighted, stupid.

Individuals are complicated, trying their best, nuanced, mostly good, mostly intelligent enough to have considered opinions on big issues, mostly considerate, mostly decent most of the time. And, perhaps most importantly, very much limited in what they can do by their individual circumstances. But always, you have to get to know the individual to ascertain "this individual does not reflect the awfulness of humanity".

This plays out (for me) in a way that impacts the way I view "people". For example, I'm a big believer in the right to be treated with dignity. That is, the big, stupid, cruel, awful mass that is humanity - every individual in that mass deserves to be treated with dignity. Not because the mass deserves it. But because each of the individuals who make up the mass deserve it.

Because overwhelmingly (and yeah, despite plenty of lived experience that would support me hating individuals en masse), individuals are doing their best, with what they have. Individuals can't be separated from their circumstances, and that colours things a lot. And when individuals make bad choices, it's usually a bad choice, existing in an overwhelming majority of "doing their best with what they have" choices.

Just my take. Looking at humanity as a whole? We suck. Planet Earth would be a whole lot better off if humans didn't exist. But individuals are mostly really likeable, understandable, and doing their beat with what they have. And when they're not, it's just as likely to be because I don't understand how life is from their perspective, living in their shoes.
Idk @siniang . I used to like people, a big reason I'd stay above ground, and now I think I hate them. I have been used, abused, manipulated, threatened, discarded, scapegoated and been human collateral damage so often, or come to find people insincere or two-faced when I thought otherwise, Idk. I'm either a sap or everyone is supposed to live this way and play the game. Not always was it intentional (though often) and there have been rare exceptions to the rule. I really think it's self. I was thinking today people could live in peace, be honest, be generous, care for one another and accept care, and live with a lot of joy, and gratitude. But nope, not good enough. So I wouldn't call them bad people, but Idk what I'd call it. I'd say treat them well- with caution.

I too think people should be treated with dignity. But I think treating others with dignity is the last thing on most people's minds. Especially if they want something or they don't like something or there's an obstacle (especially 'you') in the way. I don't think most people are genuinely overly caring. More transactional than genuinely sweet-hearted. JMHO though , from what I've seen and lived. (And yes it is disheartening, especially if you are inclined to give the benefit of the doubt.)
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I don't know what your experiences have been, but I understand this 100%. It is scary stuff getting hit by a predator or a key person(s) that have nothing in mind besides their own self interest. I hope you haven't given up hope yet. If you don't challenge this and keep looking for people you can connect with, I would think this will become your reality.


How can it be a cognitive distortion
I wonder if it’s a cognitive distortion due to your language. “People *are* bad” rather than “People *do* bad”, for example, has a whole different effect, in that there is the possibility that a person will do either. When you say all people you make a universal statement which begs to be scrutinized and dismantled. Same with saying “literally every single day.” Language using universals has a way of obscuring those who are outliers. Outliers still are part of the bell curve, even if they are not counted as significant.

I personally believe that people who do mostly good acts are hard to find, but that makes them important to discern and hopefully maintain a relationship with.

What if rather than being surprised at all the bad experiences and behaviors you accepted them as mundane and *expected*? I also wonder if some of the acts you decide are bad are not intentionally evil but rather lazy, forgetful, impulsive, etc. And finally, do you make distinctions between intensity of bad because if you don’t that might be part of the distortion of universalizing.


Happy Towel Day :)
Love it.

Pathogens don't make active decisions.
I wasn’t talking about intent, when I said that I see people as much the same; but results and ratios.

Humans have theory of mind. We have culture. We can reflect on our actions, after and before.

Hence, no, not the same.
For all I know, microbes do, too.

No way to know, as linguistics hasn’t advanced enough to communicate with terrestrial species outside of our own, and has tremendous difficulty even with that homogeneity.

But even if pathogenic microbes were mindless killing machines? For me the ratios hold true.

An extremely small number of people I so violently disagreee with, that I would spend my life focused on how wrong they are. The vast majority? Cause me no ill nor goodwill. A small percentage of which are vital to my own survival.

Spectrums. Conditions. Shades of grey.

If I’m only in the 0010101 binary nature of artificial extremes? I’m in survival mode. And not to be trusted. Most especially by myself.

To be clear? I’m not attempting to change your mind. I’m simply illustrating my own truths. Where a sense of … wonder, awe, excitement… over the vast possibilities inherent in life itself? Is foundational to my own view of the world. Yes. There is the terrible. The terrifying. There is also the amazing, inspiring, & necessary. And everything in between. Ginormous spectrums. All equally true, none exclusive of the others.
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@Rosebud, I could have written your first paragraph. Pretty much my thoughts exactly.
I do think its easy to confuse bad people when in fact its "bad behavior".
Seems that humans are so self serving anymore. Did not feel like this when I was younger. I see it more as I age.