I missed this when it was first posted, but thanks to this (also excellent) post of Mike’s, I’ve just discovered a nicely concise explanation as to why I’m not posting about politics as much as I used to: Hatred Fatigue:
I also seem to be experiencing something that, for lack of a better word, I’ll call “hatred fatigue” — namely that, after over five years of abhorring almost every single action, day in and day out, the Bush Administration and neoconservative movement takes, there’s a part of my brain which is simply screaming “I can’t stand it anymore!” — it not being Bush and neocons, but instead the sheer weight of continued pessimism and fear.
Similarly to Mike, while my primary posts have lost much of their political content, my linklog is not exactly devoid of links tagged ‘politics‘. As frustrating as it is to see what I see going on in this country, it’s hard to bother trying to make my voice heard when discourse today never seems to be a rational, respectful discussion of differing points of view — instead, anything that isn’t what we believe is to be damned, vilified, cast out, and exorcised, by any means necessary.
What strikes me as particularly troublesome…is how this incident demonstrates the uncivil demeanor of this country and our relationships with our political opposites. And my definition of civility needs some clarification: I do not mean prudish stuffiness. I mean the treatment of another human being with simple, decent respect, even as you acknowledge with no rancor that your position differs significantly from theirs.
It’s a rather sad commentary on our current culture that as a whole, we’re so intolerant of other viewpoints. There’s nothing wrong with other viewpoints, and neither is there anything wrong with disagreeing with other viewpoints. When we stoop to destroying people in order to destroy their viewpoints, however, there is something seriously, seriously wrong.
Bonus thought experiment that Mike brings up, but that I don’t have time to poke at right now (other than to say that at first blush, I agree with where he’s going):
The Internet is a powerful tool, and it has wired us all up to each other in metamorphosing ways that I still believe our culture hasn’t fully assimilated yet, and perhaps won’t for generations to come.
The Internet allows that intrinsic incivility — that Hatred of the Other — to be both concatenated and ring-led with no lag time or delay. There’s no organizational time needed; all that’s needed is a charismatic figure and its followers.
The Internet has done such great harm to us as a political culture because, viewing it on the much larger scale of societal development (as opposed to human lives), we’ve suddenly become wired up to each other far more quickly than we ever were before.
As a species, I don’t think we were sociologically equipped to be hooked up to each other’s beliefs and to handle the combined weight of Internet-scale movements and politically biased memes. I simply don’t believe that as a species we’re going to get an okay handle on this situation, wherein we’ll somehow, someday resort to a situation where we find an easy peace with each other. I think that unless somehow such vitriol and rage falls out of vogue, a possibility I find so small as to be nearly non-existent, we’re going to be culture-warring and meme-warring with each other until the sheer massive neglect of society’s normal business causes something catastrophic to grind us to a halt.
What do we do if the only way to combat this culture of hate is to unplug?