Monday, April 30, 2018

You're soaking in it

You're soaking in it!
I've been sitting in front of the blank screen for nearly an hour and I've got nothing. In general, there's plenty of reason to be upbeat about life -- my family is healthy, my neighbors are excellent and my world is, for the most part, safe and secure. Yet all I see around me, on the internet and on social media, is bile. Oceans of bile.

We're soaking in it. And it's corrosive.

 At least this morning, I'm not sure how to craft a message that isn't undercut by snark and bile. We have no lack of worthies deserving of scorn and shunning. But scorn and shunning merely feeds the beast. We need to do better than that.

It's time to think about how to get better.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

My big moment for dealing with the bile came 5 years ago last November. Obama had just won the election and I was angry. Angry with voters for being such fools (in my opinion) and angry with the media for manipulating people (not really an opinion.)

I headed to the church and for a couple of days I prayed the cursing Psalms. And I called down calamity on journalists that they might experience the fruit of their wickedness. And then I was able to let go, mostly.

These days on Facebook I've mainly "unfollowed" anyone who insists on sharing their liberal political opinions on Facebook. Not so much because I don't want to be confronted with different viewpoints and have conversation, but because in my experience there aren't any productive conversation partners. As you say, it's just bile and hatred. So I remove it. I don't want to bath in it.

For a long time I kept trying to listen to National Public Radio and visit places like National Review, but I'm mostly done with them as well. I wanted a different viewpoint, but there was just too much ax-grinding.

Incidentally, the same slow withdrawing has happened with sports. I still read and follow, but a lot less than before. A bond is breaking.

jerrye92002 said...

I have recently discovered, I think, the reason for all this. Two fundamental aspects of human nature are at work. First is "confirmation bias," the tendency of each of us to find sources of information that agree with our original, biased viewpoint, and ignore sources that do not. The second is the "iron law of knowledge," where we think that because /somebody/ knows something, that we know it as well. Both of these have simply been vastly accelerated and heightened by universal internet access, 24/7 news and ubiquitous social media. We can now have our initial bias confirmed a dozen times in the space of a day, and have been told by "experts" what to think as many times, so that our "certainty" is near-absolute before any doubt whatsoever can creep in.

The result of this is that anyone who disagrees, because they had a different initial opinion confirmed to the same certainty, must be attacked as heretics or villains of the most despicable type. Even appeals for debate and calm reason go ignored, you piece of trash. Most folks are simply incapable of debate on these issues, because they do not /actually/ know what they are talking about. They just know they are right. Ignore quarrelsome people, they are vexatious to the spirit.

R.A. Crankbait said...

Several years ago I had a bit of an epiphany and decided I was going to try and refocus my online personas around the idea of "sowing seeds instead of pulling weeds", and try to be known by the things I was for, and not by what I'm against. I don't begrudge weed-pullers their efforts (someone has to do it), but it has helped my overall outlook, even if it's a bit difficult at times. (As my daughter wrote in a poem, "I've bitten my tongue so many times, I might as well not have one.")

It does tend to curtail one's on-line musings, though.

jerrye92002 said...

I've not found that helpful. When I say I'm for privatizing Social Security or for turning welfare into a personal service of helping people out of poverty (using government funds directly) I get all kinds of pushback. And suggesting I am FOR improving the schools? Katie bar the door!

R.A. Crankbait said...

Well, the thing with being "for" something usually implies being "against" something else, and draws the automatic and predictable antagonistic responses. Simultaneously with my "Seeding or Weeding" thoughts, I've also tried to move from "Do's and Don'ts" to "Whys and Wherefores". It's slow, foundational work without a lot of noticeable pay-off, but it helps my thinking.

Bike Bubba said...

I am reminded of times when I've been frustrated with employers for how they were managing the company, and how I've been blessed to hear the implicit rebuke to myself: "OK, smart guy, if you're the genius, get your rear end out there and show the world how it's done." Let us just say that I am a coward in some of these things.

More specifically, it strikes me that taking the bile seriously and applying it back to the "gallbladders" of the world is wise. Ronny Jackson's accusers, for example, need to be named and asked why they either (a) endangered three Presidents by allowing a drunk to be their personal doctor or (b) slandered a good man for no good reason. Bring the gallbladders out into the open, and things might change.

jerrye92002 said...

One other thing I have learned recently about "how we know things" is that if I tell someone the undeniable truth, they may simply deny it. It is good exercise for me to frame the argument that way, but it doesn't move people off their blind faith positions. It's really frustrating, but if I persist I can usually transfer the frustration to them, and they verbally stomp off fuming. I have learned to count that as a victory.