I've been saying this for quite a while (nor am I the only one
), but here it is
, laid out: identity politics is dangerous
And not in the "good dangerous" sense, ie: life-altering for the betterment of mankind standing-up-to-the-man dangerous...but bad dangerous, really-really bad dangerous
"...handed 1,000 people some sample student resumes and asked them to decide which deserved a scholarship...it's the grades themselves that should have driven the decisions...Democrats and Republicans chose the resumes that shared their politics roughly 80 percent of the time...
...the activation of political identity made grades pretty much irrelevant...partisans did not take academic merit into account. This didn't used to be the case. Even a few decades ago, our political identities weren't strong enough to drive our reactions...[this is] about tribes."
More to the point, this whole article is an excellent tear down of a deeply politicized
...but partisan and, more to the point, politically manipulated
) situation, and even-more-to-the-point, how that politicization dynamic is playing itself out across our entire culture, how it influences and affects you without (maybe) your even realizing it.
"...common within political conflict in polarized times: the two sides segregate into completely separate information loops...media outlets and activist information sources have incentives to cover the worst of the other side, and to play to the fear, anger and even paranoia of their own side...each side only becomes familiar with the most extreme members and interpretations of the other side -- and so comes to loathe and fear them even more."
Which I have seen, endlessly. And has made me disgusted with a few people I formerly considered thoughtful, reasoning, progressive voices...but who are now blithely and thoughtlessly parroting trite partisan hater-ade straight from their chosen narrow narrative. In the specific case the article engages with:
"If you're reading about Gamergate on the left, virtually all you're reading about is the intense, horrifying harassment against women...If you're reading about Gamergate from inside Gamergate, virtually all you're reading about is how the media is smearing Gamergate...[and not discussing] all the money Gamergaters are raising for anti-bullying efforts [and women in STEP]."
In other words, beware of your media biases
. Because your media is
biased. It is not just truth and reason and fact, but instead truthiness, blithe omissions
, and feelings
presented as reason and obvious fact. And this particular situation in the gaming subculture provides such a stunningly perfect example of this dynamic and its dangers, such that it has also been noted in detail elsewhere
"The media conspires to tell the same story in the same way that the TV networks conspire to flood the schedule with CSI clones...[so] it's always good to exercise skepticism about how your anger about an issue is being monetized or weaponized by others."
Which it is, by those on both sides, whether that's Gawker, etc. or Breitbart, etc.
"...take Milo Yiannopoulos, who writes for the Breitbart sites...[this] advances his chosen narratives...the media is a bunch of biased liberals! Feminists are destroying society! Progressives are fascists! Yet before #GamerGate, Milo was happy to use gamers for another purpose -- to advance the cultural conservative narrative 'Gamers are freaky dorks!'...if you are genuinely someone who only cares about journalistic integrity, and you promote Breitbart and Yiannopoulos, aren't you being a useful idiot?
...Kotaku and Gawker and Jezebel, is consistently outraged at the misogyny of #GamerGate...poses as high-minded...[but] then returns to its cash cows: self-righteously promoting revenge porn, ridiculing women based on their appearance, paying sociopaths to describe the pubic hair of women they don't like, gleefully outing people, shrugging at systematic harassment of its employees, leering at hacked nude pics...If you rush to Gawker Media's defense because it's #GamerGate who is attacking them, aren't you being a useful idiot?"
Each media echo chamber builds and supports a particular narrative based on its popularity with their demographic.
Particularly their ability to monetize -- in terms of clicks, readers, or even actual dollars -- outrage over a story, which if they can incite or deepen provides even more clicks and readers.
Tribal identity sells. Outrage
sells. When you read only those sources you trust, or rather that agree with your 'gut' (your identity), you immediately dismiss, demonize, and mistrust contrarians and 'the other side' and anything they say (ie: given their 'obvious' moral corruption -- "socialist liberal terrorist idiots are destroying America!
"), and so you read stories that reinforce your views, because it is comforting (and dissonance is not). So journalists and partisans write stories that reinforce those views.
"GamerGate is label-heavy, and labels are lazy, obfuscating bullshit...talking past each other and engaging with strawmen rather than ideas...Labels are an excellent way to vent outrage, but a lousy way to argue about ideas or facts."
And that doesn't apply just
to this particular scenario, but many, many others. Like this other recent situation for example
"If you read and relied upon progressive sources -- like the Huffington Post or Think Progress or BoingBoing -- you'd conclude that the Supreme Court of Connecticut held that Fourtin wasn't guilty of rape because the evidence suggested that the victim could have resisted but didn't.
[Not true]...prosecutors made the strange and...incompetent tactical decision to charge Fourtin under a...subsection of the Connecticut rape statute...that only applies to sexual assault of someone who is 'physically helpless'...[and] the state has to prove that you're guilty of the specific crime you're charged with...That's fundamental to due process."
...some people feel more strongly about rape than they feel about rights. That's why you have reactions like...moderators deleting comments pointing this out...[saying] 'why don't you shut the fuck up instead of being a rape apologist'...[and] that not being guilty of the particular crime you were charged with is a 'technicality'...[they don't] grasp double jeopardy or care...or care more about how [they] feel about rights in tough cases than about the rights themselves."
Failing to toe the line of your political identity group, especially when they are outraged, gets you labeled as part of the worst-of-the-worst. Reason goes out the window. It isn't about facts, or justice, or truth. It's about what the tribe
. When that tribe believes they are the tribe of reason and thought (and every tribe does
), it becomes even more blind to its own biases and its own utter moral certitude (which leads to all sorts of horrible, awful, no good, very bad things. Examples are infinite
The real point is that we are going to see this political dynamic creep into everything
in every aspect
of our lives, intensifying as it goes, to the point where saying or doing or liking "the wrong thing" is going to cost you friends, employment, even education
(in point-of-fact, it already does) based on nothing more than your identity (or failure to adhere to it). And this is bad. Bad-bad bad.
"Ruling beliefs culturally repugnant is a game that the left is better at playing these days."
Why does that matter? Isn't that good
? Shouldn't we base who gets ahead on who is good and decent? NO. Because eventually the game flips back around
. And the right will once again be successfully
declaring left-wing beliefs culturally repugnant. "Good and decent" is all-too-often "whatever agrees with my moral compass and the prevailing understanding of that compass."
This doesn't mean all moralities are equivalent, but it does mean how you treat those people with morals or ideas you don't agree with can be a dangerous choice.
Whatever you do -- whatever you weaponize -- will be done to you and will be used as a weapon against you: if you go around declaring things you disagree with are repugnant and people should be threatened, forced from their job
, ostracized and shamed, or hated, then eventually something you agree with
will be declared repugnant and result in you being threatened, forced from your job, ostracized and shamed, even hated.
Which is why it isn't a good
game to play. It sure the hell wasn't when liberals were on the other side of that game, and it won't be when it goes back the other way again.
"...though they see themselves as liberals, they feel dismissed and even hated...they're for equal pay and they voted for Barack Obama, so why are they being made the enemy..?"
So even worse, at some point, you
are going to be on the 'wrong' side of your fellow partisans, unfairly painted out to be a repugnant social deviant of the worst kind in all the echo chambers you frequented, and gleefully thrown under a
bandwagon by people "...driven by forces that have nothing to do with [the issue]. Forces that are very good at making these kinds of conflicts worse and deeper."