High profile schmucks make us otherwise mediocre people feel righteous


Warning: I cuss a little bit below, but only the “a-hole” swear. The F-word does not rear its head.

“Well, at least I’m not Donald Trump, or a reporter who kicks fleeing refugee children…”

One problem with all of these high profile assholes is that their existences make us otherwise mediocre people feel righteous.

Assholes of note are not new; there are now more systems and apparatuses by which they are able to find audiences and entrench echo chambers of validation.

We are all righteous non-assholes in the stories we tell ourselves and project to each other. Some of the biggest assholes I know fancy themselves righteous and even transcendent figures. I have become weariest of those who carry themselves like, as my father would have said, their shit don’t stink.

Everybody shits.

In this way, I see a lot of commonalities between this phenomena and “the nice guy.”

For the most part, much of this projection is often essentially true. By and large, we’re all pretty decent to not-bad people. But I also think self-deception is inevitable, particularly via media that rewards often subconscious selective and delusional omission. With a little nuance, decent to not-bad turns into a party when we are afforded captive audiences.


I don’t suggest that we don’t hold the overt assholes accountable or take them to task; I do, though, suggest we reconsider where we hold the bar when it comes to collective self-congratulation.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.