One of the most frightening aspects of today’s culture and political climate is a demand, an absolute lusting for simplicity.
We’re long past the time when we as a people settled on soundbites as proper replacements for actual information combined with context. Context is too messy, takes too long to hear and read. We want our information boiled down to bullet points, even if it means losing the nuances that truly define anything.
Feelings are now a replacement for information, for facts, for context. If we feel offended or slighted or that we’re somehow in the right, that means far more–feels somehow more correct–than even toying with the notion that perhaps there’s more to everything at hand.
We strip our own language down to base emotions. But we think in language. Our thoughts are expressed and detailed through language. Language is important to express more nuanced aspects of our thoughts and emotions.
Emotions are as easy as things come, as simple as they can possibly be boiled down to. It’s easy to feel feelings, to understand feelings, to have feelings in reaction to other people’s feelings.
But it’s almost impossible to fully understand those without more detailed expression. To fully express what you feel, it takes words–hopefully a proper selection of words–to even try to properly express them in depth. To explain why you feel anger or love or happiness or sorrow. To explain *how* you’re feeling such things.
We throw around heavy, fully-loaded words (and their associated context and meaning and emotions) like oppression and racism and “liberal” and “conservative” and “nazi” and “fake news” and “cultural appropriation”. And we throw these around with such ease these days because it speaks to our base emotions that we don’t want to properly express at length. That would take too much time. That would take effort. And it would require even more time and effort to have an in-depth conversation with those who bring out these feelings and thoughts in us.
Complexity isn’t simple or comforting as immediately expressing your base, raw emotions.
It’s almost like a drug to do this. Because it feels good to cut right through all that complex nuance and simply scream at another person when we’re angry. No holding back, no attempt to act like calm, rational people. No language to complicate and slow down the whole process. Just raw, unfiltered emotion.
The problem with this is that it gets us nowhere. It only, ironically enough, complicates matters when dealing with other people. Because the less time we dedicate to using our language to express thoughts and emotions to others, the less likely they are to be receptive to such things. They’ll react in kind or simply shut you out entirely for being–and intentionally so–overly emotional and disconnected.
It’s easy and feels good to call something we disagree with as “fake news”, it expresses how we feel about it despite the reality and subtleties around such things. It’s easy and feels good to call someone we disagree with a Nazi because it directly reveals how we perceive and feel about them. But it also strips them of the intricacies that makes them their own unique individual. It denies thoughts and emotions and a full history and culture that defines them.
And, as a result, it denies that potential bridge where we can meet halfway and discuss why things are the way they are. It denies the possibility of understanding and improving the relationships we have with one another.
We no longer care to inform and be informed. We simply want to feel what we feel and to hell with anyone else who feels differently.
For the sake of immediate self-gratification, we deny the future possibilities and progress that we require to go on living together. We lose the nuances that make us better people, a better society and culture. And we force such a choice onto others without their say as a result. And that’s just about as truly oppressive as things get.