Entropy. Sweet, sweet entropy.

Steve MerrymanAttitude

road sign that says Entropy Ahead
road sign that says "Entropy Ahead"

A good friend once described me by using two adjectives. The first was "cynical". The second adjective I can't remember because the first one was "cynical".

I was shocked. But after thinking about it for a week or two, I decided he was right. In fact, during my personal and deeply meaningful journey of self-discovery (aka the couple minutes I spent looking in a dictionary and thesaurus) I  stumbled upon several words synonymous with cynicism with which I can also identify. They are:

  • Misanthropic.
  • Pessimistic.
  • Distrustful.
  • Skeptical.
  • Suspicious.
  • World-weary.
  • Disillusioned.
  • Disenchanted.
  • Sardonic.

Wow. The only word that better describes me is "bald" ("drunk" is runner-up).

So, yeah, I'm cynical. And you should be, too.

We should all be cynics. Not because it's easy. Far from it! Personally, I would love to live in a place where life is spent in a warm and fuzzy state of blind trust towards all of humanity with no fear or suspicion burdening my mind and the simple joy of being alive and curious motivating me to be happy and caring every single day. There's a word for such a place: Kindergarten, and I left it behind a long time ago (I do, however, miss the naps).

No, cynicism is hard, but rewarding in it's own way. Adopt cynical political views and the energy you spend trying to figure out a politician's true motives will be repaid tenfold in the end when your suspicions are confirmed.

Cynicism means always having to say "I told you so."

What makes a cynic like me? I think it started early on when I saw through the charade of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. I hated that show. I was just a kid, but even then I knew enough to be suspicious of adults who played with toys and talked to puppets. His house was like a kid's playroom, which was ultra-creepy to me. I knew what an adult's room was supposed to look like: Where was the TV? Where were the car magazines sitting on top of the Playboys? Where was the liquor cabinet? The card table? Just what sort of sick game are you playing Mr. Rogers (if that is, in fact, your real name)? You want me to be your neighbor? Hell no. In fact, I'm gathering up my Hot Wheels and moving out of this neighborhood. I'm gonna move in next to Johnny Quest because he's got that big metal spider thingy, which is awesome.

I tried hard to be a shiny, happy person. I believed in Jesus for a couple decades. As a Catholic, I even considered becoming a priest until I realized that I would have to give up sex - even with myself. (Come to find out, at the time no one told me most priests considered the rules to be more like guidelines – to this day I consider that a bullet dodged.)

Really, what made me a cynic was entropy. And entropy is why I remain a cynic.

Everything descends into disorder. Life itself is only a temporary organization of mass and energy that eventually falls apart. That's not to say that life ain't amazing. It is, especially when you have cable. But it's not forever (sorry believers, I think you're great and we agree on a lot of stuff, but on this I think you're wrong).

Order fails. Chaos prevails. Once the reality of that fact sinks in, you begin to see it everywhere. Life is one big losing battle against entropy. Houses crumble. Mountains erode. Empires fall. I used to have hair.

Entropy is the root of cynicism. I see everything as a continuing process of decay. Sure, we have a victory now and then to fend off the inevitable: A fire is lit to keep the wolves at bay, but the wood only lasts so long. Soon the wolves will creep closer until the fire dies. We are experiencing this every moment in our lives, our nation, our culture, our civilization. Disorder is winning. On the longer timeline, the sun itself will burn out someday; the universe will grow cold and dark; and then nothing will ever happen. It will be just like soccer.

I see human nature constantly fighting against entropy but in the end only encouraging it more. The Law of Unintended Consequences is the governing principle of every effort to stave off the cold. Do you doubt me? How has the War on Poverty been going lately? How about the War on Drugs? Terror? Illiteracy? Dancing with the Stars? Seth Rogan? One can't forget Seth Rogan (I've tried. Lord knows I've tried).

My cynicism springs from the inevitability of chaos. Pessimism is the rational response to history. Disillusion is the natural byproduct when idealism encounters reality.

In the end, the only power I have is the power to mock; to point out the hilarity and absurdity of existence.

Death is the disease; Life is the symptom; laughter is the only medicine. There is no cure.


Steve Merryman is a cranky old fart. He writes about things that make him tick, and things that tick him off. You may object to his views; you may think he's a moron; and you might wish to tell him so. In return he would remind you that his lack of concern for your feelings is only exceeded by his indifference to your opinions. Good day, Sir!