You may think that life as a Contrarian in North America is quite simple. Let’s face it, there is no shortage of material to choose from and no lack of absurdity to be exposed. To be a contrarian, you may say, all it takes is a snarky attitude, with a pinch of obstinacy for good measure. And while these definitely don’t hurt, they are only the start. Below are five other basic necessities to go from novice to the advanced reaches of contrarianism.
1) A Passport:
It would be unfair to target this continent before having ventured afield to others. A true contrarian needs their passport because they understand the value of travel to give a deeper perspective on the place they call home. Are other continents and places equally absurd? Of course they are! I’m sure when a Nigerian guy stays a while in Asia he thinks back to his home and says, damn, that Nigeria is a very odd place. It is only through the act of leaving that a contrarian can make real judgments about his home.
2) Buckets of Books:
If television is the media of the masses, books are the choice of the intelligent. How can you truly form an alternative opinion to the mainstream if you consume the same material as everyone else? Books are the fuel that brings fire to a contrarian arguments. It is through the slow, methodical study of facts and arguments that the contrarian truly hones their craft.
3) A Bike:
Can a North American Contrarian drive a car? Of course they can! This is not an exercise in deprivation and life in North America is built around the great American (though now more likely, Asian) automobile. The distinction here is that the contrarian is open to other forms of transport and uses them wherever possible.
Two feet are a good start and public transport will do in a pinch. But for its incredibly efficiency, nothing beats a bike. Bikes are free to park, fun, fast and very low maintenance. For those who simply cannot give up their combustible engine, scooters are almost as efficient. My little Yamaha Vino 125 is in it’s 8th year and purrs around the city on $4 a fill-up .
The point is that a contrarian does not buy the myth that a car is a birthright which defines his identity, but is in fact a machine that results in more debt and poorer health.
nb: an important clarification. The bike I’m referring is not an “accessory.” Buying a $2,000 single speed is only slightly less ridiculous than buying an SUV. A utilitarian, easy to fix bike with lots of gears, purchased on Kijiji is what I am referring to.
4) Less of Everything:
In a world that prizes consumption above all else, this one could be the most important credo for the aspiring contrarian. The odds here are truly stacked against us. We are told that to be truly happy we need more of everything: be it bigger portions, automobiles or flat screen TV’s. More stuff and bigger homes to hold said stuff.
I’m not a minimalist and I am truly in awe of the the many advances we have made in technology. But when I do make a purchase, it is only after careful consideration. Will this item truly make my life better? Is the money spend now worth robbing my future self? In some cases, the answer is yes. But time and time again, after some careful thought, I come to a resounding no.
5) A Healthy Dose of Cynicism
Simply put, being a true contrarian requires different way of looking at the world. It’s not about rejecting everything. It’s not choosing a side, be it right vs. left or vegetarian vs. meat eater. There is no club to join, or fashion movement to follow.
Instead it’s about approaching the world with a healthy dose of cynicism and making informed decisions based on information and careful consideration.
Above all else, being a contrarian is about waking up and being conscious in a place where so many are content to automatically accept everything presented as the absolute truth.