Currently watching this interview of Winston Wu on social dysfunction in America:
According to the video’s description, that interview was conducted by Robert Stark on March 19th, 2012.
Actually was filing my taxes while listening to this talk, because why not heap more salt on the wound?
Wu makes a good point about so-called “liberals” that I’ve found to be true as well. Though I disagree on hundreds of matters with self-described conservatives I’ve met or befriended, they seem generally way better able to tolerate a standing disagreement than the liberal folks I’ve known. Which is probably why I take up more time with self-described conservatives despite me being someone openly critical of both duopoly-supporting political camps. And it’s kinda goofy considering where I stand on various issues; for instance, I’m pro-choice when it comes to accessing abortions, I’m extremely resistant to ideas and legislation pushed by neoconservatives, I support gay rights to marry and adopt kids, and also I take issue with criminalizing drug use, prostitution, and other matters of personal choice engaged in willfully by adults. And yet, I’ve run up against liberal angst more times than I can count simply because I don’t toe the line the way they do or I approach a concern from a perspective they’re not as familiar with. Another example here is I also defend the right to self defense and believe that maintaining gun rights is as essential as protecting free speech and the right to avoid illegal search and seizure (or, more accurately, the 2nd amendment allows other rights to stand), and upon hearing that they tend to treat me as if I’m insane.
The message I’m taking away from these battles with self-described liberals is that they have a set “code” they abide by and expect all others to embrace as well, and if you don’t fall in line with all of it, you’re somehow branded the enemy. That’s ridiculous, but it seems to be the attitude, and it’s quite true that after differing opinions on matters such as these come to light, my liberal pals tended to walk away and even sometimes cut off contact. Not helpful or open-minded, to say the least.
That actually bugs me a good bit. Because then there’s the other side of the fence where if you say you support Ralph Nader or think Venezuelans have the right to manage their own country as they see fit, then you’re dismissed as a “radical,” nevermind that holding these views is consistent with a liberally tolerant ethos. There’s definite hypocrisy sown there, yet most liberals I’ve met won’t acknowledge it. We’re only supposed to be open to what the majority or them are open to, and that’s dependent on whatever Democrat president or congressperson has to say on any given day? Bullshit.
I never forget how crazed people acted the night Obama won the election in 2008. They literally acted star-struck. I was sitting in a small bar where everyone there were huddling around the televisions, and apparently myself and one other man in the place were the only two people who hadn’t voted for Obama. I recall piping up about how people were behaving as if they were witnessing the second coming of Christ, and some guy replied back, seemingly in all seriousness: “It might be.” That was just fucking spooky, so I headed out for a smoke with the McCain-supporter who considered me an ally purely because I wasn’t caught up with the rest of the herd that evening who were stuck fawning over the tv screens in awe. He said something about flowers sprouting out of the pavement, alluding to those folks believing now that the impossible will somehow magically become possible all because Obama had won the election. And it was true…those folks were just that wrapped up emotionally that they were pretty much worshiping the man. And these were the same people who had been ridiculing Bush-supporters for the last 8 years. They could see no irony in their own shift toward completely idolizing a political figurehead of their own.
That was one eerie evening. And it only got worse after that. The peace-building organization I was volunteering with at the time lost its mind and began backtracking on their stated commitments in an effort to accommodate whatever seemed in line with what Obama’s crowd was up to. Once it became apparent the man had lied and blown smoke up people’s asses to win their support, they utterly refused to accept it. I had gotten involved in that volunteer venture thinking I was supporting a nonpartisan organization that stood on Quaker principles, when unfortunately it turned out that plenty within its ranks were zealous sellouts in lockstep with the Democrat Party. Very disappointing. And when I’d occasionally voice disagreement or try to get us thinking outside the two-party box during meetings, a few seemed to resent my involvement. After 3+ years of that I said “fuck it” and moved on. Life’s too short for such nonsense. Why hand over blind adoration to any political leader? And why aim to silence any and all dissenting views, especially when you claim to be dissidents yourselves? That’s plain wacky, if you ask me.
While I have met my fair share of freaky Republicans and right-wing bible-thumpers, I’m tempted to claim I’ve met even more intolerant left-wingers over the course of my life. That claim should raise eyebrows considering this is coming from a Deep Southerner who willfully re-transplanted herself north of the Mason-Dixon line many years ago. [Not that I’m necessarily proud of that fact, but it is indicative of what it is.] I’ve managed to have hours-long arguments and discussions with libertarians, anarchists and neocons, and not always by my (initial) choosing — yet those interactions more often felt productive and openly-engaged in than what’s transpired between myself and many claiming to be liberals. They don’t like my answers and questions and tend to just shut down and walk off, frequently enough attacking my character and insulting me as ignorant and backwards before departing. That’s a pain in the rear to keep dealing with. If you’ve got a beef, let’s discuss it. Just lay out your positions and I’ll counter and we’ll talk about it. But no. That’s so rarely how it goes.
Back to the video…”fake optimism” — yes, that’s totally an expectation in the parts of the U.S. I’ve lived in. Deep conversations are discouraged. As people keep repeating to me: folks around here would rather not be serious and they find the topics I bring up “depressing” and “negative.” It’s frustrating to keep running into that. Heard it from my latest romantic partner (who hates hearing about anything he considers remotely political in nature — he totally opted out of all of it, including voting), heard it again recently from a female friend I’ve known since 5th grade (the same one who in the past has referred to my political writings as “offensive” and twice called me a “Debbie-Downer” ), heard it a while back from my Adderall-prescribed male relative, heard it at least alluded to from the last three pothead galpals I used to hang out with (the last of whom was an active and vocal feminist), and don’t get me started in on what all’s been said at bars (though it’s worth mentioning I’ve had some memorably lovely and interesting conversations struck up with strangers at bars…just never at sports bars, which are taking over).
So I turn to the internet and write here and in others’ comment sections. And what do we encounter? Too much blocking. Everybody thinks they’re supposed to be a censor these days.
Social networking sites and apps have a serious downside, as we’re discovering. Through them, we’ve invented new ways to chastise, ridicule, and ostracize one another. But on the upside, these venues offer the opportunity for outliers and “oddballs” to share views and interact with willing others, and that’s nice. It all boils down to how we as users choose to handle these technologies as to what potential winds up being unlocked.
Pausing at 46:49…I gotta say, I only partially agree with him on the dating scene. IME, men (especially young men) are prone to being every bit as narcissistic as women. What I’ve noticed, particularly during my time working as an escort, is that plenty of men expect their partners to look better than themselves. From what I gather, some seem to think they’ve earned the right to keep an attractive female partner, likes it’s some reward they deserve. When it comes to casual sex and most especially the bar scene, I think men generally keep a more open mind when it comes to appearances, but I do think those same men tend to hold higher standards for their romantic interests.
What I didn’t like there was Wu making it seem like all women are vying for the (supposed) top 10% of males in this country. What I do think is going on is we women have gotten caught up in thinking the grass is always greener on the other side, so we have a hard time being content with our lives and relationships. Another casualty of the era of information overload is that women seem to feel bombarded by demands and contradictory ideas and televised fantasies to where we’ve become paranoid about not receiving what we perceive are our dues. This ties back in with feminism so far as it flavors discussions with the notion that we womenfolk are being screwed and that we shouldn’t accept our “plight.” In other words, feminism has helped to supply an unending list of complaints and grievances that get us thinking we’re getting the short of the stick and are “settling” when we should be aspiring toward something greater (whether that be a prestigious job or a more romantic partner or the acquisition of status symbols). In short, feminist influence has sown seeds of discontent where they otherwise might not have emerged. That’s a problem for all involved.
Well, we are being screwed, but not by men in general. It’s like our attention is channeled toward viewing our anxieties and frustrations as resulting from our relationships, which then leads to thinking that if her partner would change this, this and this, she’d be satisfied. But it’s not true. Satisfaction won’t come that easily, and it’ll just turn into more demands and more concern over disappointments. In reality we’re all facing bullshit in this country that’s driving us all a bit batty in whatever which ways, and that’s putting a strain on each of us. A partner’s concessions alone—or replacing a partner, or finding a partner, or scoring a better-paying job, or accumulating more material goods—cannot remedy what ails us collectively. These are cultural and societal problems bearing down on us. But we tend to like to blame those closest to us, and this is tearing us apart and breaking down needed social bonds.
Crazy times we live in. Not sure if I buy into countries in Europe being on so much of a better track than the U.S., but then I’ve never traveled to those countries to get a feel for myself. Haven’t so far had the opportunity to make it past Tijuana.
Update the next day: Ok. I admit it. I’m biased when it comes to “liberals” since I associate them primarily with people outside of the South, especially really “progressive” types. Whereas “conservatives” live everywhere (though obviously not all are of the same stripe) and I came up familiar with interacting with them.
For me there’s turned out to be a lot more guesswork that goes into communicating with liberals, because even when we superficially agree, we frequently come at a given situation with very different reasoning, which seems to irritate many of them. As someone who’s used to not being in agreement with anybody 100% of the way, it confuses me that they’re blown away by the fact that I don’t also support this, this, and this just because I’m sympathetic to that, that, and that. (There the contention often boils down to my disinterest in focusing primarily on seeking legal remedies and forming coalitions to address all possible “inequities.”)
But I’ve verbally tangled with folks across the spectrum and can drum up gripes about them all. ha
(Last updated: 4/24/2014 for enhanced accuracy.)