This is truly the most OK age there has ever been

Bill_Cosby_Reminds_Us_That_We_Can_All_Be_ScientistsWe live in a world of hyperbole. We live in a country that suffers from an est-est complex and now this seems to be spreading.

*Possible trigger warnings*

By est-est complex I mean that as New Zealanders, we often claim to have the best, or the first, or the fastest or the est-est anything.

Hey did you know we were the first country in the world to give women the vote?

I was moved to write this post after reading this article in the Herald about a woman’s “perfect” response to trolls. By perfect they mean tolerant, and Christian. Way to shove your Christian values down my throat NZ Herald. I don’t know what the “perfect” response to trolls looks like, but I’m not sure this is it. It’s a pretty good response, but I dunno about perfect. I suppose a headline that said “This woman’s fairly good response to trolls” wouldn’t get so many clicks and drive revenue would it?

So we get the use of hyperbole to sell.

But before we get all high and mighty about this, it’s not just the media who use hyperbole (I’ve already railed against the Buzzfeedification of media headlines in this piece and in this piece), it’s now a part of human interaction. The distance between “I disagree with you” and “I disagree with you so much that I’m going to make a death-threat against you” is now 140 characters. I don’t know when we reached a level in society where we think it’s ok to make death threats but we have and then some. So now people make death threats on Twitter all the time. And I’m sure they do it on other social media that I’m not as intimately familiar with. And sure, most of the time people don’t take it seriously. But how would you know?

If someone threatened my life on Twitter, facetiously or not, I’d be stressed out. I don’t know how your Justine Saccos, and Anita Sarkeesians of the world even log on to the internet. I’d be terrified. And it’s not just death threats, people use threats of sexual violence and normal violence too.

And this is largely off the back of a disagreement. Nothing more. Anita Sarkeesian faced an absolute shit-storm of controversy of hate and revoltingness for daring to suggest that video-games seem to maintain the structural sexism that has been in place in most other forms of media through the treatment of woman video game characters. But fuck me did the sweaty neck-beards get upset by that. Go read #gamergate on Twitter some time (actually don’t, but y’know it’s not all about ethics in video game journalism).

We seem to be living at the fringe discourse, where we have lost the ability to communicate moderate emotions or feelings and so everything has to be like, literally, the worst.

And yet the world we live in is, by just about every metric, improving constantly and incrementally. Dramatic shifts just don’t seem to happen like we think they do, and we seem to lack satisfaction in this so we’re now creating linguistic shifts to compensate.

But we don’t just use over the top language. Sometimes we use … under the bottom language.  We use minimising language when it suits our privilege. When white people report on the black protests in the United States they use loaded language to portray the black people as miscreants and violent rioters. They use terms like “thug” and “angry protesters” to create images in our mind. And the language used to talk about Bill Cosby is quite problematic too. Bill Cosby is clearly a rapist. The unsealing of his testimony from 10 years ago where he admitted giving Quaaludes to women he “wanted to have sex with” was reported thusly. Many of the articles didn’t say that Cosby gave drugs to the women to rape them. Which is what he did. He removed their consent. That’s rape.

But Cosby is a powerful member of society’s elite, and committing sexual violence against women is one way to ensure that this fringe discourse I mentioned above is employed, but at the minimising end.

I guess the point of what I’m saying is that we no longer call it as it as. We either maximise or minimise it. And no I don’t mean that I want a Paul Henry-esque “telling it like it is” when he’s actually “telling it like a bigoted asshole”, I mean legitimately talking about the reality that is in front of us in a grown-up and mature way. Because this is the world around us. And it’s not perfect. It’s flawed. But it’s an ok place.

 

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One Comment

  1. The problem with ‘social’ media is that it’s not social – it’s an approximation of ‘social’, a substitute for it and a pretty damned poor one at that. Wouldn’t you much rather meet someone over a drink or a meal and talk about stuff ‘cara a cara’ than via a computer? I think the rage is in part because all the normal constraints and controls are lifted and in part it’s an expression of a profound alienation.

    You say – “And yet the world we live in is, by just about every metric, improving constantly and incrementally” .

    But it’s not. Ok the scope of formal rights in some countries has been increased but that’s happening at the same time as the material ability of many people to avail themselves of those rights is reducing.

    We have unprecedented availability of stuff – to put in our mouths, on our bodies, in our houses – at a point when many people’s ability to afford to buy any of it is reducing.

    And the improvements accrue only to a small minority of the world’s population – the rest get to pay for them.

    Even for those who benefit most from the extension and consolidation of formal equality, from information technology and the ready availability of consumables – it’s an illusory compensation for losing the world.

    And on that chirpy note ….. 🙂

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