Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A Eulogy for Nuanced Thinking

Nuance is pretty much dead. On social media, it's so dead that I have recently decided to stop being satirical. People -- even people I think are pretty smart -- just don't seem to see it anymore. Over the past few years, things that I said with shades of blue and tan and green have been stolen from me by the groupthinkers and turned into explosions of bright yellow and, now, any reference to my nuanced ideas are seen as another voice in agreement with the screaming binary crowds. (Heck, I might as well mix metaphors. There are no rules anymore, right?)

(Swift is turning in his grave right now.) 

For instance, I have long criticized the fact that "science is the new religion." You can find posts about it here, going back to 2010. Then, along came the climate-change deniers and, counter to it, the "trust the science" movement. Now, on one side stand those who ignore science and, on the other, are those who blindly follow anything a scientist says -- who treat science as a depository of incontrovertible fact and see lab coated rsearchers as vestment-clad priests and priestesses of truth. So, if I question science, even after doing considerable reading on it, I must be seen as one side by a fool and by the other as one of their own. 

Fake news? Good old Mr. Trump killed that one. Again, for years, I complained about misleading and outright phony news. Now that he, in his inimitably oafish and cro-magnon-like way has appropriated the phrase, if one complains about the news with its biases and clickbaits, one is seen as a conservative who is only doing what the former president did: trying to kill news he does not agree with. 

I have also written about "wokeness," ridiculing it as a complete paradox: people claim to be "woke" -- which should be a state of the highest level of the achievement of rationality -- when, in fact, all they are really doing is subscribing to a pre-written script. But the conservatives killed that, by making it a slur and a joke. Worse, if one doesn't like that phrase, it will be assumed he is a racist. (God forbid someone call a Black man a "thug." Shame -- another very good word dies...)

I have also long pointed out the need to help our kids to be a little tougher; to allow them to believe in their own strength and ability to get through diversity. Then, along came things like meme of the eighteen-year-old lad storming the beach at Normandy alongside a picture of a "millenial" young man with tattos and stretched earlobes, wearing a pink tank-top and a tutu.  (See how much kids have changed!) Now, if I wrestle with the idea of weakness in our kids, I am pretty much percieved as calling them "snowflakes," which I certainly am not. But nuance, schmuance. You're with us or against us. 

For the love of all that is holy (oh, wait, I must be a religious nut for using that phrase and religion is 100% horrible... forgive me, angry masses...), I can't even express an English teacher's concern for the use of the word "they" as a singular pronoun without being implicitly accused of not caring if young trans people commit suicide. I made the mistake of pointing out this awful bit of writing from a local news Instagram: 

From Channel 6 News: "Singer Demi Levato has revealed they are non-binary and are changing their pronouns, telling fans they are 'proud' to make the change after a lot of self-reflective work."

My light-hearted quip that "telling fans that they are proud" is confusing and asking trans people to just invent themselves a new pronoun was met with questions about my concern for the well-being of others. I pointed out, on the thread, that "one begins to feel that if one ctiticizes a small thing about marginalized people that one is bound to be accused of dismissing them as humans." I've even been told that my assertion that the truth about a police incident between white officers and Black suspects or traffic stop subjects is not the important thing: one should always be on the side of the cop or the side of the Black citizen. 

How is that a remotely sane attitude? How does change happen with this idea?

So, and I mean this proverbially: don't put your arm around me. I don't want to be on your team. Teams are the reason people can't or don't think anymore. If you agree with me when I sound liberal, it doesn't mean I am a liberal and if I express a conservative view, it doesn't mean I am a conservative. 

I suppose the fools have always been louder than the thinkers. The problem is, there has never been a free and deafening megaphone like the Internet. 

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