Comedian, musician, podcaster and Nashvillian Chris Crofton asked the Scene for an advice column, so we gave him one. Crowning himself the “Advice King,” Crofton will share his hard-won wisdom with whosoever seeks it. Follow Crofton on Facebook and Twitter, and to submit a question for the Advice King, email bestofbread[at]gmail[dot]com or editor[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.
Dear Advice King,
My nephew rambled on about something called "Wetiko” at Thanksgiving dinner. It seemed like a conspiracy theory and made me very concerned for his mental health. I'm not his parent, but I feel like I should step in and do something to help him. What should I do?
—Beatrice in Montgomery, Ala.
Ahhh yes, “Wetiko,” the Algonquian term for “the virus of egoism and selfishness.” (I just Googled it.)
Your Thanksgiving sounds a lot more exciting than mine, Beatrice. We spent most of ours telling my dad to stop eating so fast. “Wetiko” was the noise he was making while he vacuumed down the sweet potatoes. FUN FACT No. 1: My dad thinks any food containing tons of sugar must be the healthiest food, because otherwise “Why would it taste the best?” FUN FACT No. 2: I wasted my youth trying to prove to him — unsuccessfully — that this line of thinking is deranged.
The good news: Your nephew isn’t crazy. I just read about Wetiko, and it sounds like Native Americans — and your nephew — are on to something. The bad news: This question is going to make me yell at real estate developers again. I’m going to resist the urge, and instead yell at libertarians (which is what real estate developers call themselves on first dates) — again.
Before I start yelling, let’s talk about Wetiko. Paul Levy wrote a book about it called Dispelling Wetiko. It came out in 2014. It says stuff like this:
Wetiko disease is an expression of the convincing illusion of the separate self gone wild. Bewitched by the intrinsic projective tendencies of their own mind, full-blown wetikos are unconsciously doing the very thing they are reacting to while simultaneously accusing other people of doing it.
Projecting the shadow onto others, they will accuse others of projecting the shadow onto them. To use an extreme, but prototypical example, it is like someone screaming that you’re killing them as they kill you.
If their insanity is reflected back to them, they think it is the mirror that is insane. Suffering from a form of psychic blindness that believes itself to be sightedness, full-blown wetikos project out their own unconscious blindness and imagine that others, instead of themselves, are the ones who are not seeing.
That sounds just like Mark Zuckerberg’s pitch for the Metaverse!
I only understood 1 percent of what Paul Levy just said, but I’m 100 percent sure we all have Wetiko disease. And I’m 100 percent sure “mindfulness” and “hustle culture” won’t cure us. Calling an Uber won’t cure us. Open floor plans won’t cure us. Package delivery being really, really fast won’t cure us. Bone broth won’t cure us.
By the way, I’m not endorsing this book, but I will say that “If their insanity is reflected back to them, they think it is the mirror that is insane” accurately describes what happens when a libertarian sees a homeless encampment.
In conclusion, the Native Americans and your nephew are fine. You and I are the ones who are fucked, Beatrice.
Here’s a poem:
are people —
they’re not myths.
They ran this place
until a few hundred
years ago, when some ships
filled with Wetiko-crazed
These white men
spoke incessantly of God,
and then purposely
handed out blankets
infected with smallpox.
Just a few years later,
the white men
and firing AR-15s
“I’M NOT SICK!”
at no one in particular