If You Want to Annoy People on the Left and the Right

1. Forego doomsdaying.

Seems like everybody loves to doomsday: The World Is About to End!

Who gets blamed for the world ending varies on who is speaking, but the insistence that things are worsening, things have never been so bad, dangerdangerdanger is a common thread. Maybe the Trump mentality is going to take over and civil liberties will be crushed. Maybe global warming will destroy the planet. Maybe supposed lack of religion (or supposed too much religion) will cause our society to disintegrate overnight. Maybe another Cuban Missile Crisis is just around the corner.

Warning: If you counter ANY of this arguments with a reference to actual history, objective goodwill, or dislike for overblown rhetoric in general, you will be accused of being a Pollyanna. You are not. You are simply being a realist or, as Hans Rosling says, a possibilist. But countering doomsdaying is as culturally out of bounds as Elizabeth Bennet wearing a bikini in Lady Catherine de Bourgh's sitting room. The world is Chicken Little's paradise and everybody must declare that the sky is falling.

2. Forego labels. 

For the sake of communication, we label people, things, and events out of necessity. However, there is a difference between descriptive labels and proscriptive ones. 

Proscriptive labels utilize stereotypes (all one-percenters, all vegans, all atheists, all fundamentalists, etc.). Proscriptive labels provide an enemy to fight. They avoid empathy because they override individuality. They also provide a sense of security (got that group figured out!).

If you want to irritate politically-minded people, argue that behavior not only exists on a continuum but ultimately comes down to individual background and choices: people do not in fact easily fit into compartments.

You may assume--as I often have--that this will cause consternation only on the right: You liberals and your politically correct sensitivity! You're misleading our youth into believing degenerate behaviors are normal!

You will find--as I often have--that those on the left can be as bitterly accusatory: How dare you pretend that those people are not all the same close-minded bigots! How dare you question the sensitive labels we have prepared for that group, so we can hold seminars and start clubs and "help" people!

It's all about control.

3. Argue in favor of free-will.

Seriously.

You will find yourself up against a multitude of conspiracy theories. Corporations are brainwashing us into buying their evil products. Hollywood is brainwashing us into accepting amorality with its evil entertainment. We are at the mercy of prejudiced politicians. We are at the mercy of socialist hippy pundits.

You may think that you are having a level-headed conversation with someone who believes in freedom of choice. Unfortunately, you may find that the other person's idea of choice only goes so far: mostly, it begins and ends with all the the mistakes other people are making: if everyone only had the freedom to think as I think, everyone would then think the way I think.

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Here is when you remind yourself: If I am annoying this many people, I must be doing something right. 

The game isn't rebellion, however. The game is to not let other people persuade you that they are the so-called rebels who are pushing the envelope, etc. etc. etc. You may come across as a fuddy-duddy. In fact, you will be remarkably idiosyncratic.

1 comment:

FreeLiveFree said...

if everyone only had the freedom to think as I think, everyone would then think the way I think.---

Whenever someone says something like "think for yourself" its always under the assumption that if person really think for themselves they would have the same opinions of the person telling them to think for themselves. Religious people get this a lot from people who cannot conceive that a person can be religious and still have their own opinions.