There’s this cute little sci-fi movie from the 1920s, where two men in dinner suits go out for a meal, one from the past, and one from the present time (which is the year 2000, bless their cotton socks). They stop by what appears to be a local coffee shop. They strike up a conversation on what they’d like to eat. The past man asks for roast beef and a coffee. The machine spits out a pill, and the man takes it. It tastes exactly like a plate of roast beef and veggies, with a side of a cup of coffee. Now, of course, it’s 22 years past this date, and the only pills i’m taking are the pills to ease my stomach after a case of “Bali Belly” that I caught in Singapore, the pills I use to stop me from having sneezing fits due to plants deciding now is the best time to have a bukkake party, and of course, the constant insistence from YouTube that I just go ahead and take the Red Pill and become a fascist again… Why does the algorithm want me to be a goddamn Nazi so bad?
Wading through the muck
Life on the Internet in 2022 is a pretty intense time. We live our lives dictated mostly on what algorithms and advertisers tell us we want to see. Now this would sound like, to the old 1920s man like a magical existence, but to be fair, this insistence on narrowing us all down into little echo-chamber gardens of curation to slowly nudge us all towards thinking in the same way, is something out of Brave New World more than anything.
So, what’s a man to do? Well, it’s of course our duty as citizens to try and be as well-informed as possible, to keep up with current events, to understand what is going on with the world around us. The only issue is, the News media is still the way we find out about our knowledge of the world. In my country, a single billionaire, Rupert Murdoch, sets the basis for news-related conversation, regardless of what side of politics, as his paper, The Australian, shapes core discourse on those topics. In Noam Chomsky and Edward S Herman’s book, Manufacturing Consent, they talk about the creation of an illusion of choice between two counter-narratives, both shaped and formed by the true benefactors of both counter-narratives, the Capitalist class.
The Fourth Estate, in a way, performs the job of shaping our way of thinking, not informing us. Its job is to get us focusing on bullshit arguments over things we have absolutely no control over. Whoooo, when’s the big scary red menace going to come in and take your toothbrush? Ooooh, when’s Russia going to send tactical nukes over the Ukraine? When’s Kim Jong Un going to perform the ultimate killstreak and launch a nuke at DC? All of these things are things that you, as a singular human being, have absolutely no power over. In fact, not even the Government has control over these issues as they’re caused by foreign governments doing as they do. Then, on top of that, they also draw focus away from key economic issues that draw us away from actual debate on serious economic problems, forcing us to focus on philosophical arguments. “What it means to be a woman” and all that stuff, when these arguments are really simple to defeat.
I understand the appeal of being anti-this and anti-that. I understand the desire to “Own the libs” and all that shit, It’s appealing and cathartic, and very fucking easy. It’s easy to be destructive. Tearing down the Lego house is always the easiest part of building the lego house. Designing and putting the house together, that’s the hard part? Do we make the walls taller and stronger? Where’re are our lego-men going to sleep? How big should the beds be? it’s always easier to tear something down than to build something down.
Okay, so i’ve spent all these paragraphs talking about the media, about lego houses, and about some old-timey movie… When am I going to get to the goddamn Grillpill?
Taking the Grillpill
Well it’s a lot like that Lego House analogy. Grillpilling is taking the time to build the house. The term was first coined by Matt Christman of Chapo Trap House, a “Leftist” Podcast which discusses the American political discourse in a very brash and comedic way. The grill pill is another one of those internet -pills. You know, how “Blackpilling” means to lose faith in society and live an existence of nihilism, “Redpilling” means to learn information that people don’t want you to learn, “Clownpilling” means to have your worldview shifted to a point where you believe the world is an absurdist joke, and so on. Grillpilling comes from a zoomer/boomer facebook meme, where there’s a piece of clipart of a man standing at a Weber grill, with the caption, “All the Media Says is Racism, Shootings, Socialism, KKK, I just wanna grill for God’s sake”
Matt basically talks about how our existence online is this hilariously overwhelming barrage of content. This flood of information that we have no time to actually sit down and analyse, instead all we can do is react. We post how mad we are at what we read, we’re apes throwing shit at the wall. What is posting on twitter going to do to accelerate or even make movement? By screaming into the void you’re doing nothing to progress the movement at all. All you’re doing is cheerleading. Whilst your opponent organises, forms rallies, grandstands in the press, you’re on twitter, calling a random Russian bot a spade.
Christman approaches this in a very simple way. Leave activism to the activists. If you feel that you can contribute to the movement, do so by means of joining a campaign, starting a campaign, organising locally, knocking on doors, starting conversations, you know, actual activist shit. But just remember, that like when you learn to grill, you’re going to suck at it initially; Especially if you’re coming off the top of Political “mount stupid”, where all you know of politics is the constant shitfights on twitter, and not the real conversations that real people have about real economic issues that affect those real people. So, if you feel you cannot campaign, or contribute to the movement, there is no reason to feel bad.
Why? Well the whole underlying principle of the “so-called left” is that work for the self is what defines you as a worker. The only reason why we work is to contribute to a bigger, better society, and in exchange we receive remuneration for said work. Marx espouses in Das Kapital that the difference between the effort value made from our labour and the markup value made from the product as sold, is what is effectively stolen from us, the value generators, the labourers. Now, i’m paraphrasing here, but the underlying principle of Marxist thought is that we, the workers, are the source of all commodity value, as our labour is entirely what is needed to extract resources, turn them into materials, turn those materials into components and tools, use those components and tools to assemble products and so on and so on. As such, we deserve a proper cut of those wages, which is why joining your union is the best thing that you as a worker can do to secure better wages. However, this does not necessarily mean you need to be active in said union. There are delegates and organisers in unions that do a lot of very hard work to rally the troops and march for causes. If you do not want to be a participant, and all you want to do is pay dues, you are doing enough. If all you wanna do is “grill for fuck’s sake” then that is all you need to do.
Now, back to grilling. Matt Christman and my Stepfather have a lot in common. Both are faced with very dire circumstances. Matt is in America, where the political fabric has a very real chance of leaning towards Fascism. My Stepfather is witnessing his very own mortality in the form of terminal lung cancer. Both, have turned to grilling meats and learning to cook as a form of catharsis to keep going. Both men are passionate about their working craft (Matt with political activism, My stepdad with his work as a bowling mechanic), and are both frustrated with the state of their craft. Learning to cook is a difficult task. I had to learn to cook from a very young age as I had been thrown out of home at a very young age relative to today’s youth (I got kicked out at 19), meaning I had to learn very fast, how to cook good, easily replicable meals that encouraged me to keep cooking. I learnt basic fried rice, curries, satay chicken, pasta dishes, and then eventually as of recent have been learning to cook Vietnamese and Chinese food, bread and pastries. Cooking is a difficult, but achievable task. You can secure little victories which provide you with a basis for being able to continue the task. That is what the Grillpill is. Instead of projecting your time into timesinks, gaming, twitter arguments, social media, movies, you pour your time into a difficult but achievable task in order to secure a little moment of victory. This task helps you maintain the energy to stay politically motivated. Instead of wasting your time on Twitter, you can pour your time into making say, a makeup case for your niece, and then have a real connecting moment with a real person about real things, maybe you might build a relationship with a friend, then their family, you might convince them slowly but surely through your common interest that perhaps Donald Trump is kind of a dickhead, and the fact that you connected through something other than politics makes your view carry more weight, as you are a real person with real connections.
We are all alienated, disconnected loners thanks to Capitalism. Its entire purpose is to seperate us into tiny little marketable groups, and distract us with bullshit little revolutions that cause us to lose connections with our fellow man. Instead what we need to do is to log off. Get off Facebook, pick up a goddamn hobby, and have some real human interaction with real people.
For me as of recent, and as a new homeowner, my grillpill outlet/hobby has been DIY. I’ve really been getting into making stuff out of wood. With a few basic hand tools, some saws, some drills, a nice set-square and a hole-centring jig, i am able to make so much stuff. I was able to make a present for my partner’s birthday, i was able to make a box for my iPod, i was able to make The Besta PC using laminated laser-cut pieces. I switched my Political youtube channel recommendations out for maker channels. and most of all, i closed down my social media accounts. Yes, even discord, the place where throughout the pandemic, i made a bunch of new friends, to focus on making small little victories. I switched all that out for a Japanese Saw and the opportunity to make real people smile through my work.
One day, i hope to be mature and mentally willing enough to campaign, i might even run for office. But I will not do so unless it is appropriate for me to do so. Right now, I feel that my role in political discourse is essentially, to grill. Focus on getting to the next day, so that when Polling day does come, I can stick it to those tory fucks who want to give money to their billionaire mates.
Also, Do yourself a favour and please subscribe to Loomhigh and FriendlyJordies on YouTube. These blokes are true examples of the Grillpill in action, blokes who focus on doing things they love and attempting to change the world through this praxis.