More details

The Ultimate Shit Test

Raw Egg Nationalist

The Ultimate Shit Test

It’s almost inevitable when we’re attempting to explain complex phenomena, including complex social phenomena, that we look to the most “complex” fields for answers. By “complex”, of course I’m talking about the sciences, and in particular the so-called hard sciences, which have an unchallenged mental authority in modern society; but even the softer sciences, like economics and social psychology, and even the utterly flaccid ones like anthropology, will also do from time to time. You could consider this a kind of sympathetic magic if you wanted – like working upon like – but in truth it’s perfectly understandable, and often quite useful too.

Take the pandemic response, for instance. Scientific models of human behaviour are an essential part of understanding the public response to the pandemic, not least of all because such models have been used by the authorities themselves to shape public opinion and mould behaviour. In the first summer of the pandemic, for instance, it was revealed that the British Army’s special 77th Brigade, a unit that focuses on informational warfare, was working alongside the British government to “quash rumours about misinformation, [and] also to counter disinformation.” The Canadian military employed psychological warfare techniques on the Canadian people in a similar manner, despite being in violation of federal law. Such operations, on both sides of the Atlantic, involved scouring social media, harvesting personal data and disseminating targeted messaging that followed the “expert” line on the virus – whatever that happened to be at the time. These two examples are only the tip of the proverbial huge floating piece of ice.

Another example. “Mass formation psychosis”, a concept drawn from social psychology, has now become something of a buzzword, thanks to Dr Robert Malone’s appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience. Malone used the term to compare the behaviour of ordinary people during the pandemic, to the behaviour of German citizens in the 1930s under Hitler. In particular, the way that, under conditions of widespread anxiety and confusion, people can essentially be hypnotised, whether by a charismatic leader like Hitler or by government and media messaging, to disregard reality and do as they’re told. Malone’s very plausible suggestion that people might be suffering from a kind of mass delusion, one which has been carefully engineered (see above), was immediately greeted with synchronised howls of derision from the mainstream media and experts, as well as calls to de-platform Rogan – a response which, in these strange times, may be as close as we can get to an official confirmation that the speaker is on the right track.

Still, there’s much to be said for the value of homelier concepts too. Concepts which owe their existence and continuing popularity to their having been formulated by ordinary people and put to use, again and again, in the course of ordinary life to quell all the “blooming, buzzing confusion”. The “shit test” is one such concept, and I think it fits the pandemic well. So well, in fact, that I’d go so far as to call the pandemic “the ultimate shit test” in human history.

So what is a “shit test”? Here’s part of a more voluminous definition from that most trusted of sources, Urban


“A manufactured grievance a woman uses to test the mettle, competence and confidence of her mate. It is an intentional provocation accompanied by an implicit and subconscious desire that the man put his foot down, set reasonable boundaries and demonstrate that he will not be bullied, nagged, shamed or guilted into submission. Its purpose is to confirm for her that he is capable of doing what needs to be done to provide for and protect her and her children.”


Basically, it comes down to a calculated test of endurance. How much, or what, will you put up with?

We should be under absolutely no illusions. Governments around the world, including the UK and Canada, with their array of civilian and military behavioural experts, have been laying down a series of challenges to their citizens, on a scale hitherto inconceivable, and then minutely scrutinising the response. Every single “yes”, whether explicit or tacit, in answer to the “emergency” measures. Every single “no” – although these have been much fewer and farther between. And an essential part of this, just like the classic girlfriend’s shit test, has been to make demands that seem totally unreasonable. The girlfriend’s “I don’t ever want you to speak to another woman again” has become a whole raft of patently absurd rules and regulations, rules and regulations which are ever-changing, ever-liable to contradict the rules and regulations that were in place a month ago, a week ago or even yesterday. Since you’ve been paying attention, dear MAN’S WORLD reader, I know I don’t need to rehearse these rules and regulations with you. You’ve been through them yourself. The agricultural smell was unmistakeable.

(One thing that rankled me particularly, though, here in the UK, was the rules regarding mask-wearing in pubs. Now, I’m not a big drinker, but from time to time, even during a plague year, it’s nice to take a young lady out to a country pub. Except, that is, when you’re forced to engage in a ridiculous pantomime of donning a mask every time you move from your seat – as if somehow the virus is only a threat when projected by a moving, and not a stationary, person. Sit six feet from the bar and create your own microclimate of aerosolised spittle, if you must, but heaven forbid you should walk up to the bar and try to order without a piece of paper to cover your mouth…)

Now, I know that the shit-test analogy has limitations. What’s missing, at least from the fuller Urban Dictionary definition, is the notion that the tester, in this case the government, actually wants us to put our foot down. Clearly, this isn’t the case at all. The government would really rather we didn’t. Even so, this analogy can do a little more work for us yet.

So. What are the potential outcomes of a classic shit test?

Let’s say you don’t comply. You really do put your foot down. You make an unmistakeable demonstration of your worth and dignity. Maybe you walk away. At the very least, even if you don’t, your partner develops a newfound respect for you and your boundaries.

But what if you give in? The fuller definition of the shit test would have it that your girlfriend leaves you, realising that you’re not “capable of doing what needs to be done to provide for and protect her and her children”.

In the case of the pandemic response, it’s clear that the non-compliance hasn’t happened on a large-enough scale to make a difference. We haven’t left the government, so to speak, or made it respect us. But the government can’t leave us, either, despite knowing how wretched we truly are. So what will happen? Almost certainly, what happens in all toxic relationships. The pushy partner keeps pushing. And keeps pushing.

Whether we like it or not, the governments that have subjected us to this ultimate shit test aren’t going anywhere, not for now anyway. Indeed, a change of government is unlikely to mean anything at all, since support for the measures has united more or less all the major political parties. We’re stuck in an abusive relationship with a partner that knows it has the upper hand.

We shouldn’t forget this as time passes and the worst aspects of the first two years of the pandemic, especially the lockdowns, begin to recede from view. In the UK, after the lifting of more or less all the restrictions, an air of unreality has now descended. Finally, we’re back to normal! Except we aren’t. We failed the shit test. The government knows this. It hasn’t lost the power to do to us what it did before and it’s armed with the knowledge that, when push comes to shove, we’ll be the ones backing down. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

1200 630

Man’s World in Print

MAN’S WORLD is now available, for the very first time, as a high-quality printed magazine. Across 200 glorious pages, you’ll find everything that made the digital magazine the sensation that it was – the best essays, the most brilliant new fiction, interviews, art, food, sex, fitness – and so much more.

Man’s World in Print

MAN’S WORLD is now available, for the very first time, as a high-quality printed magazine. Across 200 glorious pages, you’ll find everything that made the digital magazine the sensation that it was – the best essays, the most brilliant new fiction, interviews, art, food, sex, fitness – and so much more.

You must submit

Want to write for
Man’s World?

Here at Man’s World, we’re always looking for new contributors to dazzle, inform and amuse our readership, which now stands in the hundreds of thousands. If you have an idea for an article, of any kind, or even a new section or regular feature, don’t hesitate to get in contact via the form below.

Generally, the word limit for articles is 3,000; although we will accept longer and (much) shorter articles where warranted. Take a look at the sections in this issue for guidance and inspiration.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
I have an idea for a