• WISDOMfromPO-MO
    493
    There seems to be a pattern these days. People in academia, the news media, and other institutions of supposedly high integrity--institutions that we expect better from--are saying stupid things in public and then there is outrage. Most of the time they lose their jobs.

    A sports writer from Denver says on social media that it bothered him that on Memorial Day weekend a Japanese driver won the Indianapolis 500. He loses his job. A professor at the University of Delaware says on social media right after the death of Otto Warmbier, with his family still grieving, "Is it wrong of me to think that Otto Warmbier got exactly what he deserved?". The university does not renew her contract. As Hurricane Harvey wreaks havoc on Texas a professor in Florida says on social media, "I don't believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesnt care about them." He is fired from his job two days later.

    And just now I learned that Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson said in a speech that John Maynard Keynes did not care about the long-term because he was gay and childless.

    In spite of the outrage, and many times loss of employment, that accompany these episodes someone else says something stupid, offensive, inflammatory, etc. in public and the cycle repeats itself.

    What's​ going on these days?

    But a few minutes ago it occurred to me that maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe people in the kinds of positions like the people above saying stupid things in public is not a new, unique pattern emerging in our time. Maybe such incidents have always occurred, but people did not become so outraged. Maybe people ignored stupid comments and didn't think it was worth spending any time, energy or other resources giving stupid comments any attention.

    My concern is that people--whether it's members of the public becoming outraged or employers firing employees, or anything in between--are not choosing their battles wisely and the public will become numb to all of it. Then the public might be unresponsive to words that are a lot more dangerous.
  • Bitter Crank
    3.9k
    I thought John Maynard Keynes did not care about the long term because, his words, "in the long run we are all dead". Makes sense to me. But in any case, is it true that JMK didn't care about the long run ahead? My guess is that some gay and or childless people care little about the long run than some others, just as it is certain that some heterosexual people with many children do not give a rat's ass about the future. If I was speaking at a large education conference and said "some parents have too many children because they don't care about the future" I would expect to get tarred and feathered (and maybe lynched) even though the statement is (to the best of my knowledge) true.

    People, being people, have been saying embarrassing, tasteless, inappropriate, insulting, slanderous, provocative, inconveniently true, and wickedly amusing things for a long, long time. What is different now is that far more people than ever before can read/hear about what other people said quicker than ever before and can register their real or fake outrage far faster than ever before.

    Because people can hear and respond to a stimulus instantly, they do -- and fake outrage seems to be the fastest response.

    Even though everyone alive today has grown up with the reality of electronic media, and even though everyone in the public sphere knows what a microphone is, and further, knows that microphones are fairly sensitive, people will still sit in front of a mic and make highly regrettable comments to other people, which everyone can hear. You would think they would know better.
  • Bitter Crank
    3.9k
    the public will become numb to all of itWISDOMfromPO-MO

    I'm sick of hearing about race, gender, sexism, immigrants, fascists, feminists, the KKK, BLM, Donald Trump, Hillary's damn e-mails, etc. I'm just about ready to throw the baby, the bathwater, and the tub all out the window.

    EDIT: part of my (and other people's) experience is that I get news from public radio and two newspapers -- the New York Times and the Guardian. These three present more information about issues connected to race, gender, immigration, etc. than more middle-of-the-road news sources do. If I switched NYT for the Wall Street Journal, I would see fewer stories about these topics.
  • Πετροκότσυφας
    363
    Or maybe such outrage (or a lot worse) always occurred, but you just did not pay attention. Maybe you just ignored all the cases of people that were fired, imprisoned or just discriminated against because they were "reds", "homos", "negroes" etc. Maybe if there was twitter or more political incorrectness warriors you would have paid attention to past outrage. Maybe some people notice that other people become outraged only if the outraged is identified as a "social justice warrior"?
  • 12paul123
    2
    The phone. That is your drug for dopamine and the source for deppression sometimes. We are getting worse at social interactions because we get the same dopamine from our phone as realtime interaction. It's your daily cheatcode to achive things and a loss of your time, soon people will realize how little they have achived compared to people that has done the opposite. They will start feeling oppressed.
    Dopamine makes you feel enjoyment, as you want more of.

    This could be because of stress, because of less realtime interactions. Maybe social awkwardness.
  • fishfry
    141
    American culture is deeply neurotic at the moment. Terrified of its own shadow. The usual suspect is political correctness. But I think there's another reason. Americans have been at war in the Middle East since 9/11 and it's not going well. We've become a torture regime. We are still in Afghanistan and Iraq and several other countries too. We've spent trillions. But it's all with the "volunteer" army. The left gets busy with social causes, Use the right pronouns or we'll shame you and take away your livelihood.

    They do that so they don't have to think about what their nation is doing abroad.

    I always had that complaint about liberals. Toss them a bone on gay rights and they'll look the other way on torture. And now that the Supreme Court finally (and correctly IMO) put the issue to bed by legalizing gay marriage, the left needs to screech about pronouns and transgender rights. They need smaller and smaller causes as the foreign policy gets worse and worse.

    And the right doesn't much care, they love the wars. The few anti-war conservatives get marginalized, like Pat Buchanan, or absorbed by the swamp, like Trump.

    So we focus on pronouns and statues and virtue signaling.

    Only a coincidence I'm writing this on 9/11, it would be true any day of the year. But today is sixteen years into this collective insanity. We "honor the heroes" and refuse to ask questions about where our government has taken us since that day. Where we've allowed our government to take us.

    So we focus obsessively on things that don't matter. To avoid the things that do.
  • 0af
    44


    For me it's a little more complicated. I was slow to use text messaging, suspicious of its authenticity. But really it's kind of a drag or stressor to deal with the intimacy of the voice. I read The Naked Ape ages ago (too young to have read it critically), and what stuck with me was the idea that we probably evolved from primates that lived in very small communities of say 30.

    For economic reasons we humans drag ourselves into the city and live among hundreds of thousands if not millions of others. I think we are fighting our "programming" to do this, and that's why it's usually rude to start conversations with strangers. We try to ignore that the stranger exists unless it's an emergency.

    I think the phone is part of this strategy. It's a sublimating form of communication. Less intimate in terms of the gut-level voice but quite powerful in terms of language and images. The dark side of FB, though, is the tendency of many if not all to use that medium for outrage/persuasion. Too bad, really, because social media are great for sharing "filtered" (positive) pictures of people, their adventures and links to the good stuff.
  • 0af
    44
    The left gets busy with social causes, Use the right pronouns or we'll shame you and take away your livelihood.fishfry

    There's some truth in that. I lean left, but I "essentially" lean toward the individual being protected from the righteous mob. There's something unsettling about how easy a thoughtless comment in your private life can blow up your life.

    It's as if there is no longer a public and private split. You are always on the clock and under the eye. I don't consider myself a racist or a sexist, but I'm sure my "cold"/critical approach to the issue would convict me in the eyes of some. It's expected that (on either side) one's thinking is drenched with virtue, outrage, bias, etc. But I'm hardly the first person to think that passion can muddy the mind.

    So we focus on pronouns and statues and virtue signaling.fishfry

    I think the focus on virtue signalling is also connected to the fact (as I see it) that we aren't so virtuous as we tend to pretend. Most of our efforts (in my experience) go toward holding our own little lives together. Of course we feel some genuine empathy at times, but isn't there a fair amount of play acting? A person of "class" is civic-minded, moral, etc. So narcissism plays a role. Virtue-signaling is, in other words, also superiority signaling. It generally costs less, too. It's even free on FB.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    493
    I thought John Maynard Keynes did not care about the long term because, his words, "in the long run we are all dead". Makes sense to me. But in any case, is it true that JMK didn't care about the long run ahead? My guess is that some gay and or childless people care little about the long run than some others, just as it is certain that some heterosexual people with many children do not give a rat's ass about the future. If I was speaking at a large education conference and said "some parents have too many children because they don't care about the future" I would expect to get tarred and feathered (and maybe lynched) even though the statement is (to the best of my knowledge) true...Bitter Crank

    I have not heard anybody in the social sciences or humanities say it, but surely somebody other than me--especially someone who makes his/her living studying human behavior--has observed that neoclassical economics tells us that we are all wired to be rational maximizers making marginal decisions. In other words, a philosophy that says individuals and organizations are wired to approach everything like "How much am I willing to pay for one more candy bar?" has dominated for several centuries in the West, therefore it probably should not surprise anybody when people do not see the big picture and the long-term.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    493
    American culture is deeply neurotic at the moment. Terrified of its own shadow. The usual suspect is political correctness. But I think there's another reason. Americans have been at war in the Middle East since 9/11 and it's not going well. We've become a torture regime. We are still in Afghanistan and Iraq and several other countries too. We've spent trillions. But it's all with the "volunteer" army. The left gets busy with social causes, Use the right pronouns or we'll shame you and take away your livelihood.

    They do that so they don't have to think about what their nation is doing abroad.

    I always had that complaint about liberals. Toss them a bone on gay rights and they'll look the other way on torture. And now that the Supreme Court finally (and correctly IMO) put the issue to bed by legalizing gay marriage, the left needs to screech about pronouns and transgender rights. They need smaller and smaller causes as the foreign policy gets worse and worse.

    And the right doesn't much care, they love the wars. The few anti-war conservatives get marginalized, like Pat Buchanan, or absorbed by the swamp, like Trump.

    So we focus on pronouns and statues and virtue signaling.

    Only a coincidence I'm writing this on 9/11, it would be true any day of the year. But today is sixteen years into this collective insanity. We "honor the heroes" and refuse to ask questions about where our government has taken us since that day. Where we've allowed our government to take us.
    fishfry

    In other words, things like a Denver, CO sports writer saying on social media that he was bothered by a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend; people being outraged over his words; his words being removed and him apologizing; and then his employer firing him are all distractions that keep us from seeing and thinking about the real sources of our problems, struggles and suffering.

    I believe that that sound you hear is all of the wise, rational, clear-thinking people in the world collectively nodding their heads in agreement.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    493
    The phone. That is your drug for dopamine and the source for deppression sometimes. We are getting worse at social interactions because we get the same dopamine from our phone as realtime interaction. It's your daily cheatcode to achive things and a loss of your time, soon people will realize how little they have achived compared to people that has done the opposite. They will start feeling oppressed.
    Dopamine makes you feel enjoyment, as you want more of.

    This could be because of stress, because of less realtime interactions. Maybe social awkwardness.
    12paul123

    What is the connection between that and people in esteemed positions saying insensitive, stupid things and it turning into an uproar often ending in loss of employment?

    Niall Ferguson's aforementioned controversial words were part of a speech, not anything done on a phone.
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