Philosophy TuesdayApril 21, 2015
I assert that there is a particular way about how we talk about other people that has become prevalent in our culture. It crops up in our speech and in our interactions with each other. And I invite us to consider that it has a deleterious effect on our ability to relate to others, it disrupts possibility, it saps us of our vitality, and, if we were actually present to what we are doing, we might even be taken aback by our behaviour.
It is the trend I call “moronification”, though perhaps it is better described under the catch-phrase of “instant contempt”.
It is the way in which, when we disagree with someone or something, or not like what they’ve done, or have an experience that (perhaps) inconvenienced us, it isn’t a simple matter of having a disagreement, etc. It is the ease in which we jump straight to vilification, antagonism, and insult. It is the rapid ratcheting up of the situation to denigrate the other. We’ll talk about them (or to them!) as though they’re an idiot. It includes phrases like “that’s retarded”, implying that the only people who could have those thoughts or ideas or views or designed this product or code or rule or system must be somehow brain damaged. It is the jump to “People are so stupid!” just because we don’t see eye to eye. “You’ll never guess what my daughter did to me this morning!” is declared, as though others always have malicious intent directly towards you. Expressing “The crap I have to put up with,” implying that you are the only sane and clear headed and nice one amongst all of your fellow denizens.
It’s all blame and make wrong, loaded with contempt.
When we default to blame, condemnation, and contempt, we sever our connection to others. We put up barriers to communication, and to creating possibilities and solutions. We create a position that we then have to occupy and defend, often beyond a point of reasonableness. We get nasty, begetting, most often, nastiness in return. We set ourselves up as a victim, at the effect of others and without agency. We cease being supportive, we cease inviting growth and education and discovery. *
In that realm of contempt, we devalue the humanity of others, leading to exploitation, violence, neglect, and harshness. **
I doubt anyone will be surprised to hear that we can disagree with someone without turning them into a villain or imbecile. I read in an article a while back the phrase “We are addicted to false outrage,” and I say that resonates with this unnecessary nastiness we’re creating. And it doesn’t have to continue like so.
Sometimes all it takes is becoming aware of the words coming out of our mouths and realizing just what we’re creating with our speaking.
Because I don’t think this is what we actually are committed to, and how we actually want to interact with each other.
* – XKCD’s “Ten Thousand” comic is an interesting side view on an offshoot of this – it’s not only people whom we disagree with, but being nasty to those who just somehow didn’t see the same media as us. I think it’s an indication of how much this “instant contempt” has crept into things.
** – At the same time, we delicately ignore our own quirks, our own views, or own ways of being that, if viewed from outside our heads, likely also seem as strange, illogical, naive, and perhaps even foolish to the an observer…