Some things that are on my mind:
Chris Arnade’s tweets - I don’t know who this guy is, just stumbled on his posts, and couldn’t stop reading. I guess here’s a decent starter. He’s a reporter who used to live in the “front row” (wall street) and now travels among the “back row” (small cities throughout non-coastal America).
An interview with Will MacAskill - guy behind 80,000 hours and Giving What We Can and philosophy prof. You don’t have to listen to all of it (it’s long) but you should (it’s great) - the one point that’s relevant to this post was about tribalism (especially in election season). Why should your view on abortion have anything to do with your economic policy?
With that context, sleepy and trying to wake up, I opened Facebook. Came across a post by a family member (keepin' this all super vague b/c public blog and don’t wanna embarrass anyone I guess) expressing regret over some recent riots that came out of a vigil for a black guy killed by police. Other family (some close, some less close) jumped on, “yeah it’s so sad,” “violence is not the way,” etc. And I found my mind doing a couple things:
1. assuming that those family members were all therefore invalidating the struggle of black people to not get killed
2. getting angry because black people are getting killed!
3. spiraling into rage, thinking about my other friends who are posting about black people being killed
4. writing off my family members' opinions because they’re so sheltered in their white middle class lives or something
and… that’s mostly ridiculous, to say the least:
1. man, who knows! I know that some of the family involved (again, staying super vague) care, and get it, about black people getting killed. posting about riots (happening in a place they’re living) doesn’t mean they don’t believe protests are justified.
2. ok, this is not ridiculous
3. … but this is silly. I’m getting a daily dose of anger fuel without doing anything about it. Like, I see posts running the gamut from “black people are getting killed, that is bad” -> “holy cow this is actually really bad” -> “if you disagree, you are wrong” -> “if you disagree, you are bad” -> “if you even less-than-fully-agree, you are bad”. The later steps are usually said through sarcasm, not outright. Somewhere between “holy cow this is actually really bad” and “if you disagree, you are bad”, this stops being useful and starts being tribalism.
4. oh gosh! first of all, I’m living in the biggest bubble city there is. I guess I see more poor and not-white people on a daily basis than they do, but I can’t say I interact meaningfully. Second of all, what good is it to close yourself off from someone you disagree with? Third, I mean, these are family relationships, too, and those are important, and yeah you can disagree with someone’s politics without writing them off as a person, but it’s hard when you’re in the “if you disagree, you are bad” mental state.
The result of all this is that I’m angry, and feeling closed off from family members. (and nothing has happened to help stop black people getting killed by police.) Maybe, looking at this real optimistic-like, I should focus on this as a practice opportunity to:
- remember not to take anyone beyond their word - if you say “riots are bad” it doesn’t mean “the thing that caused their riots isn’t bad”
- not close off, in case people do disagree with me
- love my family despite disagreeing with them sometimes
Well, at least I’m awake.
EDIT: to be clear, I didn’t mean this post to be about the riots or police violence at all. I was trying to say more something like “Facebook surfaces the angriest views on anything to me, which changes my reactions enough that I’m unable to even relate to people normally; this is frustrating” and “I wish I could read my friends' news in a way that doesn’t bathe me in anger.” To be further clear, my points #1-4 above (the first time I talk about them) are mostly wrong, and I referenced them all again a second time to disprove them all. Anyway, if this post makes you want to discuss anything about riots or police violence, then sure, let’s do so, but I don’t mean to be taking any particular stand here. (well, ok, I guess I’m taking the stand that black people getting killed unjustly by police is bad. but that’s hardly a stand.)
also: I was trying to anonymize everyone, and I’m pretty sure I succeeded in anonymizing it enough that an internet rando couldn’t google the people involved, but obviously didn’t anonymize it to the people involved (or people who know the people involved, or who also got the shared facebook post.) I’m not real sure how to do this. I could say “I saw a post from a person about an event, and it made me think ____” but then it’s like reading math: so abstract it’s hard to tell what’s even going on. not good reading, anyway. Also, when I say “some family members”, the wrong family members might think it’s them. Open to suggestions on how to do this better.
also also: who am I writing for here? good question. first of all, me. there’s a reason I hardly ever try to publicize this blog (and start all sorts of new ones for sub-audiences). I guess (and this is an unintentional thing I’m only now realizing) second of all might be pretty close friends and pretty close family? folks who know me and my context and life and might be interested in ramblings?
It’s the kind of thing where it’d be nice if all my close peers were around a lot and I could process my feelings through them, but now we live all over the place.
And I want it to be super opt-in-whenever; like I don’t want to facebook push it to you, but if you want to go check a blog, go ahead.
But it does leave me with a super uncertain audience, which means I’m sometimes not sure about who I can talk to about what. Eh.
(thanks to my mom for an interesting conversation about all this)
Anyway, if anything I say makes you feel bad in any way, or if it seems like a thinly veiled dig at you behind your back, let me know, let’s talk it out.
Thanks for the pointer to that Arnade article – super interesting, super saddening :/ I do not understand how to help these people.
yeah! it leaves me with a lot of “huh.”
what the hell do we DO for ppl of small cities of America?
but even before that:
how do we relate to them, so we’re not the Coastal Elites?
I mean, I guess I feel like, just like with everything else, more communal, redistributive, Europe-style-socialist government is the answer. but… it’s probably a longer road than just a new tax code :-/
But definitely being one with them, and not the isolated Coastal Elites, seems like one of the necessary steps.
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