In which I talk about shit that happens on social networking! And about PEOPLE WHO ARE MAD ON THE INTERNET! And other meaningless irrelevant crap! In fact, don’t even read this. You should go giggle or meditate or get wine drunk or something.
I make people mad on Facebook all the time. I frequently type “LOL” beneath political videos posted in earnest. I often find Snopes rebuttals to absurd infographics and post them right on people’s walls. When I see rants against aspartame, I type paragraphs about stupidity, gullibility, laziness, and that Egyptian river we’ve all heard about.
This behavior, of course, gets me ignored or attacked, but I’m too old to feel bad when someone wrong tells me I’m unfeminine.
Our culture-wide belief that experts, due to the existence of corruption, are irrelevant, and that the common man, sans education but with an internet connection and his feelings, is equal to any and everyone who’s spent decades in study… it’s complete fucking lunacy.
At this point, it’s all idiots versus experts. See: the anti-vax movement. See: chiropractic patients buying absurd supplements that don’t do anything. See: young women trying to abort early pregnancies with non-regulated herbs they bought at a Whole Foods. See: numerous articles claiming exposure to protective doses of fluoride is an “endocrine disruptor” (no evidence, unless heavily over-exposed). See: billions of words on the internet that are lies. Lies about medicine, lies about our food supply, lies about government and moon landings and modern pterodactyls.
Worst of all is the fact that most of the time the people producing this untrue content don’t even know they’re lying. They really believe what they’re saying is true. They think feelings are facts, and that feelings qualify them to disagree with reality.
I call it hysteria and ignorance. Rich (compared to global standards of living), mostly-white, mostly-educated people absolutely railing against century-old breakthroughs that have saved millions of lives, because they don’t remember what it was like before these breakthroughs were in place… and because they’re prone to the same ignorant, superstitious nonsense our ancestors were prone to (but without even the excuse of the church to blame for it).
It’s an extension of those who rejected electricity because they decided it was deviltry, or those who laughed at hand-washing for surgeries or births because germs hadn’t yet been discovered. You may think it’s hilarious that someone somewhere once thought a photograph could steal his soul, but in the same moment you might also believe in ridiculous crap like chelation therapy or an alkaline diet or detoxing.
In my own personal belief system, conquering self-delusion is the whole purpose of existence. Observing the process of clinging to ego (beliefs, identity, thoughts, feelings) is the entire point of the game. Learning you’re wrong is an experience to be embraced, not avoided. I mean, of course it totally fucking sucks at first, but eventually you get used to it and can see the progress that being wrong affords you.
You are not what you think about. Having your thoughts challenged is good. Being disagreed with is good. Having your feelings hurt is good. Change is not only the primary quality of the entire fucking universe, but it’s good.
And yet every single person I disagree with online responds immediately with an ad hominem attack against my intellect or my femininity, and demands haughtily that I should attempt to contribute something useful to the alleged discussion.
(Please note I only disagree with shit I can back up with facts! I never disagree with people’s feelings, even when they’re maudlin as fuck — “repost this if you have a brother you REALLY love!”, as if by not re-posting it I’m announcing to the universe that I don’t love my brother — or seriously ignorant, like the man-hating or childishly romantic relationship memes single women often post. Because you can’t disagree with people’s feelings. They’re feelings. Duh.)
Well, I did contribute something useful: I pointed out to you that you’re wrong, thereby gifting you an opportunity to learn, which is an opportunity to grow. Whatever dumb shit you just posted about aspartame/vaccines/fluoride/politics is demonstrably untrue, and here are the links to experts who can prove it! You’re welcome!
But people do not want discussions. They want validation, permission to keep believing whatever wrong stuff they believe because it somehow shores up their worldview. They want Likes on their Mercola link about THE DANGERS OF ASPERTAME even though there is, in actual fact, zero evidence that aspertame is harmful.
When I laugh at posts or link to experts, it’s instant rage and/or condescending replies about how my tone isn’t translating through text and how it’s my responsibility not to hurt people’s feelings on the internet, but zero actual interest in pondering the foundations of the whole thing, in unpacking the actual ideas behind the post in the first place.
I mean, listen, this shit is super cool to think about! On the topic of aspertame alone: WHY do we feel like lab-made stuff is bad? WHY do we think we’re getting away with something when our treats have no calories? (Do we even know yet that calorie theory, just like lipid theory, has turned out to be wrong? If we do, does that relieve our guilt? If so, WHY? Why do we feel guilty enjoying a no-calorie treat? Do we have a belief that indulgences should be costly? Why? How far back can we trace this belief? Can we link it to our Puritan forefathers? Do other countries have these feelings too?)
How do we feel when we learn that aspartame is actually nothing but two amino acids, the sweetness of the combination of which was discovered entirely by accident? What parts of patent law and marketing, as brought to bear on the artificial sweetener market, are upsetting to us and why? Why do we think people are so willing to believe anecdotal stories about artificial sweeteners even though 25 years of epidemiology have failed to find any credible links between artificial sweeteners and hyperactivity or cancer or seizures or migraines or pseudo-science’s not-medically-defined so-called neurotoxicity?
Nope. It’s really more like Fuck that, fuck you, and fuck your complicated and complex questions, you’re an elitist, you’re attacking me, you’re wrong, aspartame IS toxic poison! I just know it! As are vaccines! And GMOs! And cancer can totally be cured with herbs! I DON’T HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT, OR EVEN BE ABLE TO HOLD A COMPLEX IDEA IN MY HEAD, TO KNOW MY OWN FEELINGS ABOUT ASPARTAME!
True. You don’t need to be an expert on anything to know your own feelings. Your own feelings which are not the topic of discussion and which are quite literally irrelevant. But, hey, whatever.
(I think people think that the love they read about in scripture is a feeling, and that all feelings are therefore spiritually important. They’re wrong on both points. Most feelings are egocentric nonsense, really.)
And no amount of truth can be presented, because every single time, the person you’re engaging with will: demand that you prove your assertion even though you already have; reject every item of legitimate proof you offer (usually as ‘tainted by corporate greed’ or ‘manufactured by enemies of the true cause’), offer loooooooong and irrelevant anecdotal stories with frequent appeals to emotion but zero data as “proof,” and finally hurl boringly similar ad hominem attacks in which I’m told I’m stupid (which almost makes sense as an online insult) and unfemininely abrasive (which is hilarious to me, this apparent belief that pointing out my success or failure at feminine modesty will somehow make the truth less true).
I seriously have to limit my exposure to my Facebook feed, because it is almost entirely full of untruths that people are violently determined to believe. I read it for the posts about new babies, new jobs, new marriages, and other interesting life experiences, the very funny group chats around my online friend John’s Question of the Day, and the rare grown-up conversation about, say, the political situation in Syria. Usually when I take a moment to point out that someone’s crazy article about Chinese imports was disproved by Snopes three years ago, there’s resounding silence or I get unfriended. When I reply to an over-simplistic meme about Social Security’s insolvency with evidence that whatever being implied’s not actually true, there’s an occasional “oh thanks I didn’t have time to look it up,” but more often than not a reply accusing me of being delusional because I don’t agree with the poster’s feelings about the government’s previous fiscal behaviors.
What I don’t get is why you’d rather be wrong than suffer the brief and completely transient feeling of having been wrong and learned something. What you’ve learned about is irrelevant; it’s the process that matters. Maybe you, like me, once thought chiropractic was a respectable treatment modality, but learned later that of the 45 minutes you spent with your chiropractor she was only practicing chiropractic for about five minutes and the rest of the session was woo. Maybe you further learned that chiropractic’s fundamental tenant is woo, too, in light of advancements after it was invented, but that certain manipulations performed for certain conditions are measurably and repeatably effective. Maybe you went through a whole journey of discovery and release and change and understanding and nuance that introduced you to a more refined inner state, one you are encouraging because it is the path to equilibrium and non-attachment. Chiropractic, and our belief about it, in and of itself is irrelevant. So is fluoride. So are your feelings about vaccines. But don’t you see that letting yourself evolve is imperative? Even when it’s really uncomfortable?
Especially when it’s uncomfortable?
Maybe not. Maybe you’d rather publicly post untrue things and get angry and aggressive when I laugh at them. Which is cool too, I guess. But it’s public, and I can laugh at you if I want. But yes, all of you who get so very angry about being disagreed with online, I am laughing at you, at your little grumpy egos, and I am poking you deliberately even though I know exactly how you’ll react.
It’s both baffling and funny to me. Baffling because all you have to do is decide: it takes a split second and suddenly you’re free of being angry and ashamed and embarrassed and uncomfortable when someone disagrees with you and OH MY GOD WHY WON’T YOU DO IT, JUST DO IT, JUST DO IT RIGHT THIS SECOND? You should totally do it!
And funny because, well, it’s funny. People getting so upset about words on the internet. People choosing to feel attacked and victimized because you posted a link to the Snopes page and typed “LOL” a couple times under their idiotic little rants and memes and conspiracy theories and thoroughly debunked causes! What’s not to laugh at, really? You’re a rich Westerner on the internet, with access to damn near the whole of human knowledge almost instantaneously, and yet you still choose to believe in ridiculous shit!
Well, kiddo, I know it hurts your feelings, but you’re just plain wrong. Vaccines don’t cause autism, you’re not even remotely qualified to lobby for vaccine reform regardless of the exquisite depth of your feels, motherhood does not confer scientific ability, fluoride is safe, aspartame is safe, correlation does not imply causation, social security was partially de-funded by a Republican congress, detoxification as used by woo practitioners is a nonsense concept, cleanses are useless at best and dangerous at worst, chiropractic is good for a very narrow set of manipulations but is mostly gibberish, homeopathy has no measurable effect, “rape culture” is a (fairly skewed and crazy) worldview and not an actual fact, NASA did land on the moon, medical cancer treatments do work, naturopaths are not real doctors, Obama’s a citizen, and welfare fraud is neither common nor rampant.
But you’re a self-proclaimed expert, qualified in the secret method of knowing real reality from GIGANTIC CORPORATE AND GOVERNMENTAL COVER-UPS, and I’m just some dumb bitch on the internet! So you just keep on believin’ your silly stuff and I’ll try not to laugh at you*.
*lol no i wont that’s an internet lie ill totally never not laugh at you 😉