This is an experiment that spanned for about two months in which I tried to follow a few principles of Tyler Durden from the movie Fight Club, because I got inspired by this character, and I had an interesting idea to experiment with. If you have seen this 1999 epic movie you would have probably fell in love with the Tyler Durden character, which is claimed to be one of the coolest characters in history of Hollywood.
This experiment was divided into two phases, first month I looked ugly the aim was to build a geeky image whose priorities where clearly not to make friends. It wasn’t hard since I had to make minor alteration to my looks but not much to my social behavior. The second was to embrace the “Tyler Durden” part in me, getting the facial looks were easy, developing the physical appearance and faking my attitude was a task.
Spoiler alert! In case you haven’t see the movie, stop reading now and continue after watching the fantastic film.
Gist of what happens in the movie – The unnamed narrator in this movie can sleep only by leaching off those around him or had to tap into his primitive side. When both doesn’t work he created a whole new persona “Tyler Durden”. Initially the narrator becomes hateful. This was because the character Tyler Durden dehumanizes and focuses on self-reliance and emotional distance. That’s was why the training to get into Project Mayhem was designed in that manner. The followers try to define themselves by being nothing.
Here the unnamed narrator turns into something (Tyler Durden) who was exactly the opposite of all that he is/ was. I could easily draw parallels between myself and the unnamed protagonist. Just like him I try to control too many things around me. I was a compulsive consumer, but have taken up minimalism recently and actively following it. I have had bad days that seemed faded and days in which I craved for some sort of love through relationship. It all hit me during the car scene that at some point anyone who is dissatisfied with who they are might want to change in to someone different (entirely opposite) who they are willing to be. But there comes some skepticism if the society will accept them in that form. When you go past the internal resistance you start to follow a fake it till you make it strategy.
Here is what I did to define the Tyler Durden in me, the result of this experiment was an absolute shame –
I started letting go of the control that I had over things. It was hard at the beginning but eventually I got an hang of it. It helped me differentiate fear from danger. Danger is real, fear isn’t. And to better phrase it. I realized that I was suffering not from the actual event but from my judgement of the actual events.
I could not control the reality but I could very control my judgments – the way I perceive the reality. The first time you start late to catch a flight you might be worried about making it to the airport on time to catch the flight. This can repeat the second time as well, may be the third time too. But what about the tenth time. I get used to this feeling and wouldn’t spend energy worrying about it, rather you would spend time thinking clearly on how not to miss it. You will not be carried away by the moments emotion. You get to think clearly and react better at that incident.
I wanted to change my appearance. I conducted a social experiment by keeping my appearance really unattractive (I look the geekiest I could look like), I observed and learnt a lot which I have shared here. But beyond that my next transformation was similar to Tyler Durden (both in terms of appearance and social behavior). I put in little effort like, I started going to gym, followed “Tyler Durden” diet from some YouTube videos and changed my facial hairstyle. Something really interesting happened, people started recognizing the change and complimented the new look suited me well. This is when I realized the “POWER OF LIKABILITY”. It has become necessary nowadays that to fit into the likable category among people we had to be look-conscious. If you do not take basic care of how you look, it is considered abnormal behavior. Everyone wants to look to their best to be likable and attractive. Some say they want to look at their best since they love themselves.
During this phase of change, I felt some authority. People were more receptive compared to the uglier version. I got a kick out of it and started embracing this change. My intention was simple, through this experiment I wanted to prove my point that people give more importance and build relationships based on looks of others rather than values and principles. This point turned out to be true and Tyler Durden was just a tool I used to prove this point. I earned more friends being ruthless Tyler Durden. But they were all superficial.
Point proved. What next?
I continue to retain the looks but not the detrimental values. I am developing better values on top of what moral I had already developed. Currently I am reading Sam Harris’ “The Moral Landscape” and developing interesting perspective, which I will be sharing soon. Listening to his being good, and doing good podcast with Scottish philosopher William MacAskill was eye opening as well.
I see society is shifting towards building relationships based on momentary pleasure and satisfaction – a kind of instant gratification. Is this why I come across so many people complaining that their friends are all superficial friends and are not able to make trust worthy long term relationships?
Any smart person should understand that looks can be used as instrument that gives you the power of being likable.