The Grey Pill: How to Overcome the Desire for Certainty and Embrace the Unknown
Human beings have a desire for certainty that is inborn and part of the wiring of our brains. We seek certainty because it rewards us with a feeling of satisfaction and the comfort of order. We avoid uncertainty because it causes a sense of insecurity and anxiety.
We gain certainty in many ways. For instance, at a very low level, it is satisfying to know that when we put one foot in front of the other time and time again it will get us to our chosen destination. Rewatching our favourite movies also brings certainty because familiarity with the plots and characters means we know what to expect. That’s why mind games like Sudoku and crosswords are popular. They’re predictable and satisfying. Doing chores like washing clothes, cleaning the car, or tending to our gardens provides order and, for some people, pleasure.
The more ambiguity or the greater the prospect of threat, the more our sense of insecurity and anxiety will grow. When living in times of great turmoil, as we are at present, when traditional certainties about politics, culture and health are breaking down, it is a very human response to embrace ideas that profess to offer us absolute answers and enhance the perception of control we have in our lives. This is a process that in recent years has become known as getting “red-pilled”.
The red pill and blue pill dichotomy
The term “red pill” comes from a scene in the film, The Matrix, in which the main character, Neo, is presented with the choice between learning a potentially unsettling or life-changing truth by swallowing a red pill or remaining in contented ignorance by opting instead to take a blue pill.
The blue pill represents continuing to subscribe to the unquestioned consensus reality we have been socialised into our entire lives. A continuity of the current state of affairs, i.e. living life without knowing its real meaning or running away from the truth to continue living life in the ways we have always known.