I’ve been trying to figure out why I don’t like political rhetoric and what I’ve figured out so far is that there are a couple reasons.
One reason is that political rhetoric is not about dialogue or deepening understanding, it’s really just about yelling your point and generally being self righteous. Like when we post one of those various pictures with text over them explaining wealth inequality, we’re not doing it so that some republican sees it and goes “Oh, perhaps capitalism or at least free-market capitalism, is unfair. I shall now become a communist!” Because that doesn’t happen in the same way that a communist is not convinced by a similar image posted by a republican.
I realize that I might not be very clear right now but in my defense I am little tired and generally pretty dumb. But I’ll just say that in my experience no one is convinced by political rhetoric. At its best, its about creating a way to talk for people who want to organize their beliefs or have a consistent language to talk with others who agree. At its worst, it’s just a circle-jerk for people who believe the same things to agree with each other and feel self righteous. Unfortunately, I think most of the political stuff on facebook, tumblr, reddit, some news channels, etc, is mostly the latter kind of political rhetoric.
Another thought about this that I’ve been having is that we don’t choose our political beliefs because we are swayed by evidence, but we believe what we believe and then use evidence to justify those beliefs, as if that’s why we believed them in the first place.
Having political discussions can then feel really useless sometimes since it feels like we all rigidly stick to our own beliefs and don’t honestly consider ones outside it, (I do not consider myself exempt of this).
Something else that has been bothering me about this stuff is also how difficult it can be to talk to friends about it. Its hard to make clear if you are critiquing an argument but not the beliefs behind it. For instance, I consider myself very liberal and I am interested by gender politics, but some of the lame stuff people are doing online about feminism and gender ends up bothering me. And talking to friends who also consider themselves very liberal can be difficult because to them it might sound that I am critiquing feminism in general instead of that I am just critiquing a certain way of expressing it. So that can be frustrating sometimes. Generally whoever I’m talking to will get what I’m saying eventually but you have to work through a lot of both sides being defensive and confused.
A recent example of this was the #yesallwomen twitter thing. Even though I don’t think it accomplishes very much (as stated above), I think it was good for people who are feeling isolated or scared to know that there are other people out there going through something similar. For me, when I first started really dealing with my anxiety disorder, it made a world of difference reading other peoples accounts and advice online. But what I didn’t like about the #yesallwomen thing was that it was in response to the shooting on UCSB. I understand it came out of people arguing over whether or not he was a misogynist, but it seemed really inappropriate to me to get on our political soapboxes when a tragedy as just happened. But this is a general thing: After every tragedy in the US its suddenly the right time to tell everyone on facebook how you’ve got the solution and this other side doesn’t understand. It just seems insensitive to the people directly affected by the tragedy and self righteous. It’s like, the next time someone dies in your family I’ll come over to your house and complain about my political beliefs while your in mourning. Something about it just seems shitty.
Also, there was the few people on twitter for the #yesallwomen campaign who ended up just saying that all men were untrustworthy, which is obviously not a good thing to say since its sexist and all that and blah blah blah. And there was the the Men’s Rights Activists who are always unpleasant and full of seemingly endless rage, and there lame rhetoric against the #yesallwomen campaign that then just seems to turn into sexism itself.
God, I am just so tired. Looking at politics makes me angry and sad and confused and now I am exhausted.
Jesus, this thing ended up long. But I just graduated college so I guess I have more time and energy for things like this, so I’ll probably be writing more often. But hopefully not always this long and boring for the sake of everyone who follows me.