8 Logical Fallacies That People Use To Control Your Future
As millennials, we’ve all had our fair share of people telling us what we should do with our lives, often in a manner that involves the use of very threatening and hyperbolic, but poorly-constructed logical fallacies that put us in extreme fear of discomfort, failure, lack, and ostracism. It is no wonder why most of us feel trapped in life and while our reactions to things that happen to us is within our control, we have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that pain exists, that fear does have a great deal of control over how we make decisions, and that we remain stuck in a bleak cycle of trying to reconcile the disconnect between the desire to create something better for ourselves (a holistic lifestyle that prioritizes mental health, wellness, and a creative pursuit that emanates from the crux of ourselves) and the failure of getting our ideal lives set into motion because struggling with the daily hassles of our current lives requires us to sacrifice a great deal of energy (far more than our bodies can handle), which results in us living life like this: being squished to the bone just to keep up with others in this mad rush to…apparently nowhere worth being. So this leaves us with little time or energy left over to do what we actually f*cking want to improve ourselves and attain a higher-quality of life that is genuine, secure, fulfilling, and completely independent from those who do all they can to limit our potential and fail to recognize our worth.
Here are the eight common logical fallacies that miserable and toxic people around us often use to keep us in control, insecure with ourselves, and inevitably bound for a lifetime of mediocrity, ill health, and mind-numbing complacency…unless we recognize the toxicity and lies of these fallacies and intentionally change our mindset and lifestyle habits to bring us out of their toxic webs that will only grow more cancerous the older we get and the longer we wait to untangle ourselves from them.
If you’re a creative and entrepreneurial millennial who desires a lifestyle that maximizes your full potential, you have probably at one point in your life declared that you want to do something creative with your life (whether it’s through a conversation you’ve been dreading with someone close to you, a mental breakdown, or an outburst in which you cry out that you’ve had enough of your current living situation). You often hear most often, a long-winded argument that transforms into a series of causes and effects, all of them fear-inducing and full of disastrous, hypothetical situations: “If you don’t go to college, then you’ll have a sh*tty job. If you quit that sh*tty job to pursue some stupid childish fantasy of yours, then you can’t pay your rent. If you can’t pay your rent, then you’ll end up on the streets. If you end up on the streets, then you’ll end up on welfare. If you end up on welfare, then you’ll be leeching off of society. If you leech off of society, you’re as good as dead to me and no better than a dumb beast.”
The truth is, toxic people who argue this way think themselves as prophets, but really they are just speaking out of fear and anger — which are two unstable foundations for arguments regarding your future, and they are assuming a great deal about your intention to create a life that is most genuine to you — they assume that you’re lazy, unmotivated, spoiled, and selfish, but they themselves judge you without making the effort to listen to you or understand your motivations and the worth of your purpose.
The most common example of this is when people from older generations claim that Millennials don’t deserve to go after the life of their choosing simply because they are “lazy and entitled.” These people assume a great deal about Millennial creatives and are quick to judge and attack their character based on their selectivity to work hard in only things that matter the most to them, and they simply aren’t used to people choosing to focus on their own essential life goals because in the cutthroat corporate world, people are expected to say, “Yes” to every demand, even when it is mind-numbingly tedious, strenuous, and detrimental to their physical well-being. The Ad Hominem argument against Millennial creatives is a toxic one, since it shames them into giving up on their dreams and putting them in fear so that they end up doing what is expected in a conformist, ego-based, and works-based society.
I’m sure we have all heard these types of arguments before and they all go along the lines of, “Either you do something profitable for 40 years or end up as a starving writer/artist/actor drifting around and wandering aimlessly in life.”
While people statistically make more money in competitive and conventional fields, this argument of false dichotomy oversimplifies people’s life paths and generalizes people based on what they do or fail to do. This argument does not take into account each individual’s discipline, interests, life orientation, perseverance, or willingness to transcend the limits of the status quo and create something remarkable, so much that it influences an entire generation of dreaming doers who desire more than just external measures of the previous generation’s version of success. Toxic people use this argument to stifle you and keep you in line because they fear change, since they assume that with change comes their loss of familiarity and stability.
Fallacy of Sunk Costs
Here are two of the most common examples of fallacy of sunk costs:
“You’ve studied [insert major] for four-plus years, so you’d better finish that degree and get a job in that field.”
“You’ve spent five-plus years working in that job and investing so much of your time in it, so why do you want to quit?”
Your boss, parents, friends, or professors may seem well-intentioned when they question your decision to start your life over on your own terms and discourage you from doing so. They do this because they think that your previous years would be wasted if you actually take the leap and head for the exit. Again, they fear that you’ll end up worse off than if you just stayed where you were and assume that you’ll “mess up” your future if you do something with no clear end result in sight. They only fear what they can’t predict, but the truth is, your intrinsic value is worth more than their assessment based on someone else’s life trajectory — only you have the power to transform your life into something that better prepares you for unpredictable (and often volatile) global circumstances and no “safe” path can keep you safe forever.
Appeal to Authority
People who give unsolicited advice often guilt-trip you into feeling terrible and selfish about your intent to change your life in order to do something that is in direct opposition with what you’re “supposed” to be doing. And often, those in power construct an argument based on an appeal to authority to say that you’re supposed to follow a certain path just because they are your boss, teacher, parent, or whatever.
Often, those who hold some sort of influence over you are part of the problem — they are always in the back of your mind, searing you with a guilt that consumes you, which causes you to be paralyzed and experience a delay in progress — this is why you feel “held back” by their authority and can’t progress as quickly as you’d like, especially in a creative field. Or you might be stuck in a job for the sake of just getting by and you have a tough time breaking out of this guilt-based mindset, which robs you of your energy, so much that you cannot carve out much time to do all the things that would empower you to take a stand and advocate for your self-worth and holistic wellbeing.
Appeal to Pity
The comment section of any article written by a millennial is littered with thousands of these kinds of arguments, which are perhaps the most toxic ones, even when they don’t seem like it in comparison to the above arguments.
“People in [insert name of third-world country] are starving and dying, so how could you even think of quitting [insert name of job or major]? How could you, you horrible, entitled, and selfish person?”
They also tend to bring up situations where people trapped in difficult life circumstances have absolutely no choice but to stay trapped and have no options of getting out of their situation whatsoever. They make you feel guilty that you even have a choice and the ability to make small changes that would enable you to move forward and do something better, without regards to the past, current circumstances, or your own mistakes. They argue that you are “spoiled” and “privileged” and you shouldn’t do whatever you want because others are “better” than you for suffering and staying in the same damn cycle of suffering for the rest of their lives.
Toxic people who argue this way want to make you feel guilty for even desiring more than what you already have and leaving a comfortable position for a riskier one. However, you ought not to take their senseless arguments into consideration or allow them to guilt-trip you from pursuing what matters most to you because it is normal to feel dissatisfied with something that crushes your soul and keeps you dependent on others’ approval and decisions that could potentially leave you desperate the next day. While it is important to keep things in perspective, going overboard with pity for the helpless isn’t going to help you make any progress with your own life. What other people’s lives are like has no relation to what your life has the potential to become. The more you remain stuck in a state of suffering, the more helpless and ill you’ll remain, and honestly, that does nothing to help anyone that society regards as pitiful.
“You need to do something more important and profitable because it’s important to society, and you’ll make more money.”
We have all heard this one before. No reasoning whatsoever. They’re just forcing you to go around and around in their own ego-centric circle, with no end in sight. Again and again.
Appeal to Hypocrisy
People who use appeal to hypocrisy judge you relentlessly and point out any time you are inconsistent or don’t meet their standards for being a “worthy” human being. However, they themselves are hypocrites for not even following their own rules or remaining consistent in obeying them. A prime example of this is when hoarders accuse minimalists of “wasting” money when they try to declutter and make a conscious effort not to let a sh*t ton of stuff get in the way of their dreams of living with less or starting a new life that is free from negative energy of their surroundings or dead weight from the past.
When people use these arguments against you, it is easy to succumb to their pressure and stay where you’re at — unhappy, broke, insecure, anxious, and in poor health. The world before us was built for the sake of generating profit, boosting egos, and manufacturing “good” conformists who have no objections to living a life of complacency, frantically rushing through a crowded race to achieve it all, and being addicted to whatever appeals most to the senses. But I’m certain that you want more in your life and the outdated mode of living isn’t sufficient enough to satisfy you or keep you happy because your ideal life isn’t about chasing what the conformists define as happiness, but rather, it’s all about creating lasting value, designing a lifestyle that facilitates your goals to make a genuine impact on how others break free, balancing the essentials, and pursuing personal excellence that transcends the type of mediocre and fearful person that others predicted that you’d become at the end of your life.
Originally published at thoughtcatalog.com on September 14, 2018.