Social media can be helpful, but it can also be addictive and destructive. On today’s show, Dr. Jordan Peterson talked about some of his “12 Rules for Life” in the context of a world ruled by Facebook and YouTube.
“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today” is Rule No. 4 on the list of 12 rules in his book. When you’re scrolling through your News Feed, you can’t compare your life to “the Facebook version” of everyone else’s life.
“No one else is really like you in any deep sense,” Peterson said. “The conditions of your life truly are unique.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: If you’ve been listening to this program, about — I think maybe 2005, 2006, I started doing my research on the Twelfth Imam, which is this crazy end of times theology of — of some people who live in the Middle East, specifically Iran.
And it’s — it’s scary. They’re very dangerous. As I did my research on it, the goal to hasten the return of the Promised One is to wash the world in blood and create chaos.
And I said in 2006 and I’ve been saying it ever since, run from chaos. Put order in your life.
The world is going to start moving towards chaos. This is what Russia and Aleksandr Dugin is also pushing, is his chaos theory. Chaos is the work of darkness. For I don’t know how long, people have been saying, you’ve got to get Jordan Peterson on. He’s the greatest guy in the history of the world.
We’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll get to him. Then finally we sat down and we watched him. And we understand why everybody was saying, you’ve got to have him on.
He’s just written a new book. The 12 Rules of Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
Welcome to the program, Jordan Peterson. How are you, sir?
JORDAN: I’m good. How are you doing?
GLENN: I’m good.
If I may describe your book this way, tell me if I’m wrong, people right now feel this chaos and they feel they’re overwhelmed. And they feel like everything they do or have done doesn’t make any difference. And so they’re starting to unplug and they’re starting to throw up their hands and get frustrated and angry. You are saying that, “No, no, no. Forget about the big picture. Do these 12 little, pretty simple things, and you’ll change the world — at least change your life.
JORDAN: Yeah. Well, that’s a good place to start. And you won’t do any harm either. So first do no harm. The positions have it.
So, first of all, let me just give — or have you give your credentials.
You are a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology. And you have really been found — and kind of a worldwide sensation on YouTube. And you’re really —
GLENN: Go ahead.
JORDAN: Oh, no. So far, you’ve got it right. Yeah, I’ve been a practicing clinical psychologist for about 20 years. I’ve spent tens of thousands of hours talking to people about their deepest problems. And I’ve worked as a business consultant. And I helped entrepreneurs. I’ve helped companies find entrepreneurs to help run them.
I’ve done all sorts of things.
GLENN: I want to go through — I want to go through the book. And we have some time with you today.
GLENN: I want to go through the book. We can’t go through all 12. I’m going to give you the advice, and then you tell me exactly what it means and how to apply it.
Rule number two: Treat yourself like someone you’re responsible for helping.
JORDAN: Yeah. Well, people are harder on themselves — you know, everybody is aware of their own flaws and faults and inadequacies and failures to live up to even their own ideals.
And we’re also painfully aware that we do things purposefully wrong from time to time, just out of spite and a desire to produce misery.
And because of that, we don’t feel as positively predisposed towards ourselves as we might, and so we don’t take care of ourselves very well.
It’s deeper than that. Even — we kind of have contempt for ourselves because we’re fragile and mortal and subject to the tragic conditions of life. And we’re not exactly sure, I would say, that we deserve the best or that we deserve to be taken care of properly.
People will often treat their animals better than they treat themselves. And that’s not good. That’s not good. You have to detach yourself from yourself a little bit and understand that you deserve to be cared for like — at a level of basic decency, just like any other living creature, let’s say. You should want the best for yourself.
GLENN: So I’ve always been fascinated by the human race. Because we are — we really are self-hating egomaniacs.
We build ourself up into these all-powerful, but as individuals, we — we also have this self-loathing.
How do you — so it doesn’t sound like —
JORDAN: People have a hard time with it. You know, we’re the only creatures that are self-conscious. And we’re aware of the fragility of life and our own flaws. And so it’s very difficult for us to regard ourselves properly. And so chapter two, rule two — treat yourself as if you’re someone that you should take care of — is a description of why it is — a deep description of why it is that people have doubts about their own being. And then also what you should do in the face of that.
I mean, the fact that we’re faced with our own mortality constantly and with the human proclivity for evil means that we have a very large burden to bear. But we’re also very capable of doing that. And you should regard yourself positively as someone who is able to face the tragedy and malevolence of existence and still move forward. And sometimes move forward with great nobility and grace. I mean, people can operate under horrendous conditions and do so well admirably. And that’s something really remarkable.
And so chapter two, rule two is about asking people to treat themselves with some respect. And see what might happen as a consequence.
GLENN: Do you think that — I just read a study this morning that shows depression rates of teenagers are up — I think 48 percent. Suicide is up 24 percent since 2010. And the study showed that it coincided with the use of a smartphone. You know, and all of the social media.
Do you think this is helping us — because we’re — one of your other rules. Let me see which one it is. Rule four, compare yourself to who you were yesterday and not who someone is today. Do you think this is coming from, we’re not good enough because we don’t have the life that we think everybody else has based on their bogus Facebook page?
JORDAN: Well, I — I think there’s a couple of things going on there.
We’re undergoing sequential technological revolutions, and it’s not easy to keep up. And so I think we don’t know what to do with all the magical technological devices that are being thrown our way. It’s a very, very steep learning curve.
And social media — all the major social media outlets, Twitter and YouTube and Instagram and so forth, they all have their advantages and their pitfalls. They’re quite addictive. And they do throw you out into a massive realm and allow you to prepare yourself to the Facebook version of everyone else. And that definitely is rough.
I mean, you don’t — and you pointed out rule four, compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone is today. That’s a good maxim to live by.
Because no one else is really like you, in any deep sense. I mean, obviously people have their similarities. But the conditions of your life truly are unique. And what — the way to — you need an ideal pursuit. Compare myself to other people, to establish that ideal. But you don’t really — you have to figure out who you are and be better than that. And that’s something you can always do too.
And one of the things I tried to do in that rule is outline why that’s good enough. You can make incremental changes over who you are right now. And those incremental changes will compound and transform you across time. It’s a really, really powerful way of looking at the world. And it stops you from being bitter and resentful.
Part of the problem is when you look at someone who you think is doing better than you — I mean, look, perhaps they are. We don’t want to be naive about it. You don’t know everything about their life. You know, if you’re admiring a celebrity and you think, “Well, I would love to have a life like that,” you see the celebrity as a very low-resolution hero. You don’t know the details of their life. You don’t know how they’re doing across ten or 11 dimensions of comparison, dimensions that are important.
It’s better to think about who you are now, to take stock of your flaws and your virtues, and to move forward from that foundation. That way, you can have an ideal. I’m going to be better than I am. And you don’t have to be bitter and resentful because you’re not who you think someone else is. So maybe the social media feeds that, you know
GLENN: Professor, I’m a 22-year-old recovering alcoholic, and I’ve discovered something about myself that I wonder if it isn’t true about most people. When I first started my journey into figuring out really who I was late in life, in my 30s, I — I stopped. And I really didn’t — it wasn’t a real conscious stop in some ways. And then I — I was motivated to continue to look deep inside of me.
And I realized at that time, the reason why I think I was afraid. And I don’t know if this transfers to other people, but I was afraid because I was afraid there was nothing really of value inside of me.
JORDAN: Yeah, right. Well, and that is people’s deepest fear is that there’s — really, there’s nothing valuable (cutting out) — and I truly believe that is deeply, deeply wrong.
Like, one of the things I’ve tried to do in 12 Rules For Life is to take a very stark appraisal of human existence. I do believe our lives are fundamentally tragic. You know, we grow old, we get sick, we die, we lose the people we love. All of that. We’re finite creatures, you know. And there is real malevolence and evil in the world, and not only in the hearts of other people, but definitely in our own hearts.
And so the conditions of existence are very dire in some sense. Tragedy and evil.
But I do believe there are ways of living in the world that enable us to transcend that. And the old idea that we each have a light inside of us, that if turned on will illuminate the world. I believe that to be true.
I think that the human spirit is more powerful than death and evil. And that if you live a truthful life and if you live a life that’s oriented towards the highest good, that you can withstand the burden of being and you can discover within yourself something that’s — it’s that spark of divinity that unites you with God.
STU: Back with more from Jordan Peterson in just a moment. He’s @JordanBPeterson on Twitter. The book is called 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
GLENN: I may have been a little esoteric here. If you don’t know who Jordan Peterson is, he is so right in where people live right now. I fear I’m doing him a disservice. He is — he’s controversial right now because he’s saying the things that we all know where true, but have not been said for a long time. What it takes to be a man. And many of his followers on — on YouTube are young men. They’re starving to hear, what does it mean to be a man?
More in a second.
GLENN: We covered the presidential speech last hour, and we will continue here in about 34 minutes with some more analysis on what happened in Washington last night. It was absolutely amazing.
But we’re joined now by Jordan Peterson. He has a new book that is out today. It’s called 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos.
Jordan, I’ve been watching you now for a few months. And I saw something that you just did on the BBC where the presenter was after you from the beginning. There wasn’t an honest question, I didn’t feel, from the get-go. She was trying — it was almost like every question was like, come on, fight with me.
What is it that you’re saying that is making so many people just angry? Because I don’t see it.
JORDAN: Well, I’m calling out the identity politics types on the left. And in a really — in a really blunt way. And so they’re not very happy about that.
GLENN: But you’re doing it with facts. You’re doing it with ease and gentleness and kindness.
JORDAN: That’s worse. That’s worse. You know, because —
GLENN: I know.
JORDAN: Because the radical leftists have to paint everybody who opposes them as some sort of super villain because if they don’t — if the person who opposes them isn’t unreasonable, then they’re reasonable. And that means reasonable people can critique the radical left. And I am a reasonable person. And that makes me more threatening rather than less.
And, I mean, I believe the radical leftists have pretty much destroyed the humanities. And that’s a terrible thing. Because they’re at the core of university. And I also believe — and there was an article in the Boston Globe just this last week making exactly the same case, that corruption of the humanities is now spreading out into the broader public and into corporations and so forth, often through the back door of human resources.
And I’m pointing all this out, the pathological legislation that’s been in Canada, for example, requiring compelled speech that results in inquisition of a teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University.
And, yeah, people aren’t very happy with me as a consequence. Because I’m describing what’s going on. And also why it’s wrong. It’s really wrong for us to degenerate back into tribalism.
GLENN: So I want to — I want to go into that. We have to take a quick break. And I want to go into that. Why it’s wrong. We are in several tribes. And we’re all really doing it. Why is it wrong? And how do we — how do we change that in our own life?
GLENN: Whether he knows it or not, there is a movement — a global movement that is building underneath Dr. Jordan Peterson. He’s Canadian. He is now sweeping the world on YouTube, a lot of young people are — are really listening to him and following him.
And he is — he is articulating universal principles that that haven’t been articulated this way in a long time, in his new book for life 12 Rules For Life.
He says things like this: Confront the chaos of being. Take aim against the sea of troubles. Specify your destination and chart your course. Admit what you want. Tell those around you, who you are. Narrow and gaze attentively, and move forward forthrightly.
STU: We were talking about, before the break, something that — and this was kind of reminded me of a recent article about sort of an alt-right conspiracy gathering in New York City. And a bunch of reporters went to it. And they started asking — trying to fish around for what their ideology was. And one of them said this: We’re not ideological. We’re tribal. We don’t care about the politics, as much as we care about pissing people off and trolling and shaking things up.
Doctor, before we went to the break, you mentioned our — the way we’re starting to degenerate into tribalism. I think people now are starting to look at tribalism as a positive. Why isn’t it?
JORDAN: Well, people, when they lose their unifying (cut out), they degenerate into tribalism. You saw that happening, for example, in Yugoslavia when the wall fell and the Soviet Empire collapsed, people degenerate into their tribal groups.
Now, look, you know from being a child to being an adult, you have to pass through a period of time where your primary affiliation is to the group. That’s what happens when you’re a teenager and a young adult. You have to become socialized. You have to take your place as a member of a group. But that isn’t where your development should end. You should then transcend the group and become an individual. Then you’re part of the force that establishes and renews the group, as well as just being part of the group.
And it’s that transcendent identity as an individual that enables different groups to live together on the same territory peacefully. Because I can come out of my group as a forthright and honest individual. And you can come out of your group the same way. And we can communicate and negotiate. And we can figure out how to cooperate and convene peacefully and to trade and all of that without degenerating to tribal murderousness.
Now, what’s happening in our culture is that the radical left is attempting to establish the narrative.
GLENN: You’re saying this globally. You’re not just talking about the United States.
JORDAN: No. No. No. This is happening all over the world. But particularly in the West. It’s everywhere.
And that the radical left narrative is that there’s no super ordinate narrative. There’s nothing that really unites us. The world is a landscape of competing power interests. And those power interests are —
GLENN: Wait. We lost you. Hang on. Those power interests. Are you there?
JORDAN: Can you hear me?
GLENN: Yeah, I can hear you now. We just lost you. You said those power interests are…
JORDAN: Are based — ethnicity, race, or gender, these essential elements that no one can change. And that the entire world is just a battleground of power between those competing groups. And that some of those oppress the other. The right wing looks at that, the radical right and says, okay. If the world is nothing, but a battleground between power groups, then I’m going to pick my power group, whatever it happens to be, and I’m going to win.
And so they end up playing this extraordinarily dangerous group identity game. And there’s nothing at the end of that except catastrophe.
GLENN: So can I ask you this question? And I ask you this as a Canadian because that way you’re not getting into politics.
As an outsider, we don’t — we’ve lost our national identity. And we don’t know who we are anymore.
As an outsider looking in, what is the identity that all Americans could and should unite around. Who are we?
JORDAN: Well, it’s the old American dream. It’s that America is a place where people are judged on their competence and are able to compete —
GLENN: Doctor, I don’t know if you’ve moved into another room or something. But we’re losing you and we can barely — we can barely understand you. So let’s try this — is that — I don’t know what’s wrong with the connection.
GLENN: No. That’s — now you’re gone again. Can you hear me now?
JORDAN: I can hear you pretty well.
GLENN: All right. So go ahead. And I’ll tell you if you drop out. We’ll try one more time.
JORDAN: Okay. So, well, the United States is a beacon to the world, as far as I’m concern. (cuts out)
GLENN: We’re going to — we’re going to have to stop and see if we can get a new connection with you. We’re going to call you right back and see if we can get a new connection.
STU: Yeah, it’s unfortunate.
GLENN: We’re going to take a quick break and come back with Jordan Peterson.
Canadian phone systems.
STU: Blame the Canadians. Typical Glenn.
Jordan Peterson is the author of 12 Rules For Life. We’re going to have him on in just a second. It’s an antidote to chaos, which clear your cellphone connection is also —
GLENN: Yeah. A little chaotic.
GLENN: We’re talking to Dr. Jordan Peterson from Canada. He is a new favorite of mine. And really — I mean, just so clear in his thinking. He has a huge global following that has been building for a while. And a lot of them are young males. And he is not spoon-feeding them stuff. You know, the average person in the media or in universities would say, you know, oh, that’s what they want to hear. And you got to coddle them. He doesn’t coddle them. He tells them, grow up. Be a man.
What does that mean, Jordan, when you’re talking to these guys, what is it they’re starving for?
JORDAN: Well, they’re starving for the idea that their life has purpose. A recognition of the idea that their life has purpose. And so I tell them, well, there’s things to do out there in the world. You know, there’s chaos to confront. And there’s order to establish and revivify. And there’s suffering to ameliorate. And there’s evil to constrain. And that the world is a lesser place if you don’t take your place in it. And that the consequences of that are dire.
You have an important destiny. You know, I tell them that they’re made in the image of God like the old stories say. And that they have something beneficial — God, every time I talk about this, it breaks me up. But they have something beneficial that they have bring into the world. It’s that, that stops the world from degenerating into hell.
And it truly is important for you to get out of bed in the morning and to — and to face the world honestly and to set your family straight and to work for your community and to aim at something great in the world.
This is vital. Without that, everyone — everyone suffers stupidly and miserably. And why bother with that? It’s like, you can’t just hide in the basement and shirk your responsibilities. It makes you miserable and bitter. And even murderous. It’s not a pathway to take.
It’s just good to stand up and take on the burden of the world. And to pick up your damn cross and walk up the hill.
You need to do that. It’s important. It truly is important.
And people aren’t one dot and one speck among 7 billion. We’re all networked together. We’re all in this together, and we could do something remarkable together, if we aimed high and spoke the truth.
STU: Some of your prescriptions are pretty tough for this, though. Rule six is one that pops out to me. Because this is something I’ve — I’ve found over and over again that people absolutely despise doing with themselves, which is set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
That is something that people don’t want to do. It’s very difficult to do. How do you make them do it?
JORDAN: Well, I think what you do is what I tried to do in that chapter, is that chapter is about kids who shot up the Columbine High School and about a mass murderer named Carl Panzram. And I try to describe in detail the motivations for doing such things.
And people who do such things have very powerful motivations for doing them. They’re very angry about the conditions of existence, the tragedy that constitutes existence. And they get bitter and resentful. And then they want revenge. And they’re willing to take it — well, they’re willing to take revenge on the most innocent.
I mean, that’s what the guy who shot up the school in Connecticut did. He went and shot kids. It’s like, well, how the hell do you get into a situation like that? You brewed on the horrors of existence. And you get resentful for your part in the tragedy. And there’s no excuse for that. I mean, life is very, very difficult. There’s no doubt about that. And unfair things happen.
But to retreat and to become resentful and bitter is only to multiply the problem. So chapter six is an injunction — anti-activist injunction, I would say, to some degree.
Like, for the last 50 years, we’ve encouraged young people to go out there and stop the people who are doing bad things from doing them.
And I just think that’s a counterproductive way of living in the world. It’s like, you should stop the bad things that you’re doing. And you should straighten up your life. And then you should straighten up your family’s life. And then your community’s life. And then everything will be straight and proper.
And that’s all to the good. And then maybe we won’t degenerate back into that brutal tribalism that characterized the 21st century and wipe ourselves out.
GLENN: So I am — I’m — I’m sitting here. I have found these things myself over the last few years. And to be true. And people will say, well, you can’t surrender and retreat. And you can’t just let it go by. And you’re like, no, I’m not letting it go by. I’m not surrendering. I’m just not playing that game because it gets us nowhere. And I can make an impact in my own home and in my own life. And that changes things.
JORDAN: It’s not trivial either. Like, you know, it’s not that easy to set your family in order. And if you do that, you’ll learn something deep. You know, if you can make peace with your brothers and your sisters and if you can make peace with your parents and your past and you can make your own house peaceful and productive, then you’ve learned some deep psychological and practical truths. And then when you go out into the world and attempt to do things, you’re going to be first on a very solid footing because you’ll have lots of support and you won’t be tortured by a never-ending stream of domestic hell and idiocy. And you’ll be ready to do things in the world that are — that are appropriate and proper. You’ll have practice.
GLENN: You do —
JORDAN: It’s not like setting your house in order is trivial. It’s very difficult.
GLENN: You admit that there is evil in the world. And it is profound. And I think that’s —
JORDAN: That’s one of the most self-evident things about the world.
GLENN: I know.
And people who hear this — because I’ve heard this from people. Glenn, there is evil, and it has to be stopped.
Yes, it does.
And, you know, just a retreat from evil because that’s just not going to stop. Can you connect the dot to the — the chaos in our own life and then the — the evil that is out?
JORDAN: Well, look — look to yourself first. That’s the thing, is that the best place to begin the process of constraining evil is in your own heart. It’s like, you know, I’ve studied totalitarian brutality for 30 years.
And one of the things that I taught my students — well, since the early 1990s is that if they were — if each of them was placed in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, there’s an overwhelming probability that they would be Nazis. Like everybody thinks, no, I would be Schindler rescuing the Jews. I would be the Dutch family that hid Anne Frank. It’s like, no, you wouldn’t. That’s not true. You would be on the side of the majority, just like you are now, in all probability.
And if the temptation was put in front of you, to do the terrible things that were offered to the people that were offered to the people who did the terrible things the Nazis and the Communists did, then it’s really probable that you would do those. And it’s also really probable that you’re doing such things already on a smaller scale.
You’re torturing the people that you love. You’re betraying your friends. You’re not working up to your potential at work. They’re all sorts of things that you’re doing in your life that are small examples of the things that get out of control in tyrannical societies. Lots of people are tyrants in their own little domains, or they’re tyrants to themselves. That needs to be stopped.
GLENN: I’m sure that you’ve read the book Ordinary Men, on how men in Poland —
GLENN: They did with compassion at first. And they turned into monsters. It’s a slow, gradual thing that you just don’t see.
JORDAN: Yeah. Oh, that’s a great and terrible book, Ordinary Men. That’s one of the ones I have on the reading list on my website. And that’s one of the books that’s on the reading list because that is a great example of how you move to perdition one step at a time and how perfectly ordinary people can be trained, even against their own will in some sense, against their own better instincts to become, well, committers of atrocities.
When I read history, I don’t read it as an innocent bystander. I read history as a perpetrator. And that’s the right way to read history.
GLENN: We have a list of books to read as well. And it’s quite long. But move this to the top of your list: 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos.
Move this up on your list of things to do or watch. Jordan Peterson on YouTube. He is so well-spoken. So well-thought out. And a voice of common sense that you just don’t hear very often anymore.
Dr. Peterson, thank you so much. Appreciate it. And we’ll talk again. God bless.
JORDAN: Thanks very much for the invitation. It was good talking with you.
GLENN: Good talking to you. Jordan Peterson again. The name of the book, 12 Rules For Life.