“Hey, wanna hang out tonight, maybe grab a drink or two?”
“Nah, I am good. I want to catch the latest video of ‘Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories’ by Jordan Peterson”
Yes, you read that right. There are many weird things online, but a video analysis of the Bible through a Jungian scope, amassing over 1,5 million views, mostly by 20-year-old men, is surprising, to say the least.
I stumbled across Jordan Peterson in 2014, while doing a project about statistics and personality. Back then, I watched one of his free lectures online (he has about a million of these… literally), but didn’t think much of it, another psychologist professor.
But in 2016, he blew up and I couldn’t figure out why…
Who is Jordan Peterson?
Jordan Peterson is a professor at the University of Toronto and a clinical psychologist. He has published two books, “Maps of Meaning”, his latest “12 Rule of Life: An Antidote to Chaos” and many academic papers as well.
Peterson became (in)famous when he publically criticized the Canadian bill C-16 and made a case about the dangers of it. Basically, the aforementioned (now) law was proposed as a measure to protect non-binary or transsexual individuals who felt uncomfortable using the male and female normative pronouns.
Dr. Jordan Peterson stated that compelled speech means the abolition of free speech and constitutes a threat to western values and ideals. There’s also plenty of footage of him online, taking part in open discourse with transgender activists.
But that was just the beginning…
Jordan Peterson: An Audience Emerged
Jordan Peterson started gaining a massive following by appearing on podcasts, doing interviews, lectures like the ones we mentioned in the beginning.
We could argue that he “went” mainstream after his interview on British Channel 4, with Cathy Newman (we will get back to this). His book reached the #1 spot on Amazon, he has more than 7k Patron supporters and every other tabloid, social media account, and journalist talks about him.
“OK! Enough with the details. What the F*** Jordan Peterson talks about???”
Jordan Peterson advocates a lot of what is considered to be traditionalist ideas. Family values, responsibility, identity, individualism etc. He is very passionate about the state of young men and he believes that in order to change the world, we must first take responsibility for our lives.
Memes. We all know what a meme is. But how many people know the power of memes? And what if I told you that major cultural shifts are happening right now because of memes and that internet has become a memetic warfare? Anyway, that’s another topic.
The main point is that Dr. Jordan Peterson (mainly his base) is using “memes” as a way to spread his message. Catch phrases like “clean your room” or the fact that his voice resembles “Kermit the Frog” unify his followers and provide condensed and easily accessed knowledge.
“Clean your room”, is a phrase that symbolizes taking control of your immediate surroundings. The projection of your own psyche manifested as your room, your family, your local community, the world. He also uses that sentence A LOT in a quite literal way. He really believes that it’s a start. Now there are people making youtube videos cleaning their room and “sorting themselves out” (another powerful phrase).
He also uses lobsters as an analogy for humans. Dr. Jordan Peterson believes that humans climb the dominance hierarchies, meaning they compete with each other to reach the top. There are multiple dominance hierarchies, from business to art to relationships. And it is said that lobsters are hard-wired to instinctively follow that pattern, thus there’s a biological correlation with humans in that matter. There are 100s of pictures of lobsters doing all kinds of crazy stuff because of that.
I could go on and on, but you roughly get the idea bucko.
“So what you’re saying…”
The Jordan Peterson Interview
Peterson’s famous interview with Cathy Newman, that solidified his reputation, is worth watching if you haven’t heard of him before. While it was fun (and cringy) to watch, made me realize the absurdity of reality and how Mainstream Media is left behind.
The interviewer tried to reframe everything Dr. Jordan Peterson said, in order to fit him and his ideas to her own narrative. Example (paraphrased, see the video for exact quotes):
Newman: …but you’re saying basically it doesn’t matter if women don’t make it to the top you’re saying it’s a fact of life.
Peterson: No I’m not saying it doesn’t matter I’m saying there are multiple reasons for it.
Newman: So you’re saying that, by and large, women are too agreeable to get the pay rises they deserve.
Peterson: No I’m saying that’s one component of a multivariate equation.
Newman: So you’re not denying the pay gap exists as you did at the start of this interview.
Peterson: No I didn’t deny it existed, I denied it existed because of gender because I’m very very very careful with my words.
I don’t see dialogue here, but a power struggle to gain dominance.
Dialogue vs Dominance
It’s actually quite disheartening to witness intentional incompetence to have a productive back and forth. On top of that, the “Wanted” poster was that of Peterson’s head. Cathy Newman was painted as the victim of harassment (won’t deny there are many edgy young people online that cross all kinds of lines) and the result of the interview was buried under the outrage… but not really.
You can agree or disagree with someone and his positions and publicly do so. That is the beauty of freedom of speech. Either you like or don’t like Dr. Jordan Peterson, we can’t deny that he is a pioneer of contemporary philosophy and an internet culture phenomenon.