In general, I have a fond opinion of those who are considered to be try-hards, in the sense of people who are so conscientious about their labors that they make it obvious that they are hard workers. At least since the days of Castiglione and his writing about the ideal courtier, it has been thought “cool” to feign an effortlessness and casualness about one’s behavior that belies the effort it takes to live, an air of pretense that actively mocks honest communication. What I would like to talk to, though, is a different kind of trying too hard than the kind that comes from conscientious people who are simply not cool. It is the sort of trying too hard that comes from someone trying to pitch a multi-level marketing scam to you or trying to get you to invest in their real-estate investment trust or crypto scheme or something else of that nature. It is important to note that when people are trying to push you way too hard into doing something, that it is something that is obviously in their own interests but not so much in your own.
Coercion is a sign that one has failed to persuade and that one wants to gratify one’s own wishes and serve one’s own interests even when other parties are unwilling to go along freely. This does not mean that coercion is necessarily off of the table altogether–there are times where we must suffer coercion if our will is sufficiently hostile to the well-being of others, if we are of the criminal class, for example. To the extent that most of us do not desire that which is hostile or inimical to other people, coercion is not generally particularly useful in defending other people. Generally speaking, though coercion is often framed as something that is useful for other people, and it can be, but coercion is a sign that someone has not made it clear that coercion is good for the person being coerced.
This is important to recognize. If you grew up having to sit at a table for long periods of time because you could not finish your lima beans or something of that nature, one understands the nature of coercion in a great deal of family. Whatever modest gain to one’s health one gains from eating things that one does not like is far outweighed by the irritation of being coerced into it and not choosing to eat that which is healthy, even if it is not one’s favorite thing to eat. That which we choose by our own will, even if it is not necessarily according to our preference, is what allows us to gain in character. That which is forced on us has no such benefit.
When someone is coercing you into investing into their crypto or mlm or something else of that nature, it is pretty clear often how it is of benefit to someone who has a commission income or who expects to make a certain amount of money from the downline of someone they are selling to or recruiting. The benefits to the person being pressured is less clear. This is a pattern we see. When people want you to do something that benefits them, they try to paint all kinds of ways that it will serve your interest, and their pushing hard is demonstration of the disparity between their interest and yours. What remains is to find out why something is in someone’s interest, and how much if at all what others want serves your own interests. And that is something that one must determine for oneself, with a great deal of deliberation and more than a bit of skepticism and serious questioning.