The Data Analyst

If you have ever been dead, you have met my brother, the Librarian. He’s a mellow guy, a narrator, a third-party witness, so to say. Always detached, always understanding, a favorite who never shook the boat. He writes down the story of the people who have lived and stores them in the big library of existence.

Of course you have never met him, though, because you have never been dead. You have just had the pleasure of not existing due to not having been born. In the end, the only thing that differs those two states of not being, is that of having a story. It’s a minor detail, in the big scheme of things, but my brother likes details. Despite the insignificance of single stories, my brother ensures that the stories are preserved. I suppose it’s a matter of maintaining the difference between pre-birth and post-death, the two states of not being.

I am different. I have an archive of my own, but it’s not as popular. First, it’s not a library, it’s a database with tables and numbers and data points, which is not as inviting I suppose. Second, more importantly; people rarely want to think about cruelty. They like to dwell on egoistical means, such as having a significant story, the fallacy of eternal life, or “winning”, so to say, at all the odd little games that humans make when they socialize, such as riches and beauty. Yet they seldom want to face the cruelty they inflict on their peers as they aimlessly scramble for money and power. Actually, they don’t really dwell on their ego per se, it is more of a remoteness, an obscured sense of seeing, they do not offer their existence the attention it requires. That’s what causes cruelty in the masses – remoteness.

Humans sometimes wonder why there is hunger, pain, poverty, disease, war, hate and evil. My database explains it. It is really all about exchanging some of those nouns for other nouns. Hunger is apathy. Pain is carelessness. Poverty is negligence. Disease is sloppiness. War is selfishness. Hate is shallowness. Evil is thoughtlessness. Most humans would protest to be dubbed hateful and evil, but shallow and thoughtless are descriptions that fit a good chunk – the majority, actually, according to my database. And since those nouns, for all intends and purposes, are the same, we have cruelty.

This is nothing less than the banality of evil that you may or may not have heard of from philosopher Hannah Arendt; “the sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” Author Fitzgerald also caught this tendency when he concluded his book, The Great Gatsby: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they made.”

You may think that this is not you, but it probably is. Statistically, it is. And it doesn’t matter what you feel, because feelings and statistics are inherently different. That is why humans are intuitively so bad at statistics. You know when you ask people if they are above average in traffic proficiency and ninety percent say that they are? It’s like that. So you are probably an evil person, let’s start with that.

Now, you will probably contribute to the collective cruelty that infects the human race decade after decade, century after century. You will buy things you don’t need even though it harms the environment. You will buy it even though you could have given the money to charity, where it would go to someone who actually needed it. You will make up silly excuses, such as “everybody does it” and “the system is corrupted anyway”. And the sad fact is that your actions will enhance those arguments even more – because you do it, even more people do it, and since you accept thoughtlessness, shallowness and selfishness, the system remains corrupt.

Nobody can blame you. You are just a single person. Your story will fade anyway, and nobody will care. But I am not invested in data points, in single human beings, that is my brother’s job. I am concerned with the human race.

I’ll admit, at first it shocked me when I saw how careless people could be, and yet, blissfully oblivious to their own carelessness. Children who bully other children without concern, parents and other supervisors who never get involved, partners that ignore each other, friends that maintain their friendship only for the sake of status, colleagues who stomp on each other to get ahead.

Once, I recorded a story of a person who entered a shop to buy flour and milk and discovered that there was a woman by the shelf with a large bruise on her left eye. It would have been easy for said person to approach and ask how things were, but it didn’t. It just ignored it and carried on with buying flour and milk. Another time, I recorded a story of a person in a restaurant who had a meal with her family due to a birthday event. A mid-aged man was sitting alone by one of the tables. By the end of his stay, he approached the family and expressed his astonishment and joy for their happy family time. “Cherish it,” he said, “because I am sick and lonely, my life is coming to an end”, he said, smiled, then remained in the restaurant for ten minutes before he left. The family could have talked to him, invited him to eat with them, given him some attention, but they just shuffled embarrassed and ate on. Ah, yes, that sheepish embarrassment – I’ve recorded a story of a professor who once came late to a lecture, explaining that his wife had just been taken in ill at a hospital. One of the students got uncomfortable with the vulnerable honesty and proceeded with talking badly about him behind his back to all the other student, in order to justify her selfish cringiness.

I could go on like this forever. Truth is, all the small bad things add up much more than all the small good things. Of course, you are much more prone to be evil when you are young. Especially two-years old, they are basically psychopaths. You may find that unfair, to record the cruelty of toddlers, but I am not concerned with intent, neither blame. I am recording cruelty to measure the course of the human race collectively. The only reason why I put less weight to youngsters’ cruelty, is that they do not have as much impact on the course of the human race. As of today, however, I see a tendency of putting cruel and careless people in powerful positions – from presidents to influencers – and I doubt things are going to get better. As I said, by accepting the system of cruelty, you enhance it.

I may be more invested, more fiery, more ideological in my studies than my brother, but I do study my data with scientific vigor. My brother is concerned with single human beings, and he sees a lot of beauty. They try, they stumble on, they flinch and fail and remain oblivious to all their remoteness and selfishness. I am concerned with “the people”, the human race, and my predictions are clear. Collectively, the human race is doomed.

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