Naval Ravikant’s Terrible Hot Take On Lockdowns Unfairly Disparages Performance Art
On Twitter, Naval was asked to clarify his position on lockdowns after he implied that they should end, to which he responded “At this point, lockdowns are performance art.”
This opinion is dumb and irrationally upsets me for not only one, but for two, huge reasons.
1. Naval implies lockdowns aren’t effective
Comparing lockdowns to performance art after subtly calling for lockdowns to be lifted in a previous tweet seems to say lockdowns are nothing more than a dramatic performance meant to send a message. At least one reply to Naval called it “performance art as virtue signaling.”
I personally hate the term “virtue signaling.” Imagine pretending people only do what’s right to make themselves look good, and not because it’s the right thing to do.
To believe the only value lockdowns provide during a pandemic is for the party responsible to score political points is to ignore science.
Studies have shown that the spread of the coronavirus can be significantly reduced by lockdowns. In the case of the United States, where poor leadership has resulted in a less than stellar response to the pandemic, lockdowns may be the only barrier keeping some areas from being overwhelmed by COVID-19.
Knowing that, to say lockdowns are basically only good as a form of political theater is not only wrong, it’s irresponsible for someone like Naval, who has a large platform, to say.
2. Naval implies performance art is worthless
If we pretend that Naval is correct about lockdowns (which he’s clearly not), then the only conclusion we can draw is that Naval thinks performance art is an inferior form of art.
You might think that’s a stretch, but there’s actually a popular belief that performance art is a gimmick, and therefore not a real form of art, despite the long and successful careers of performance artists like Marina Abramović. In fact, performance art is so hated it has developed a negative connotation itself, similar to virtue signaling.
When you understand the history of performance art as a pejorative, you can see how Naval’s statement can be easily interpreted as saying lockdowns are a form of virtue signaling from politicians.
When you combine the context of “lockdowns are performance art,” with the history of “performance art” as a pejorative, you also begin to understand how Naval feels about performance art: he thinks it’s pretentious.
Well, I’m happy to tell you, Naval is dead wrong, again. It turns out your entrepreneur god can bleed.
Why would a smart man say such a dumb thing?
If I told you someone managed to say two really dumb things in one short sentence, you’d probably assume Donald Trump said it, not Naval Ravikant.
Well, it turns out we’re all human and capable of making mistakes. One of those mistakes happens when you develop your beliefs based on your feelings.
If I had as much money as Naval Ravikant I’d probably feel like we should re-open everything and get the economy going strong again too. Unfortunately, I don’t have any money, and the right way to avoid this mess would’ve been to have a strong pandemic response from the beginning, but here we are eight months later, still fucked.
Also, it should go without saying: any take disparaging art is going to be a bad take. Art runs the world, bitch.
The other takeaway is that maybe you shouldn’t blindly worship successful entrepreneurs and hang on every word that comes out of their dung-eating mouths, because even rocket geniuses can be terribly, stupidly, wrong.