a conservative heretic commenting on hypocrisy and stupidity in a world with too much of both
If you found this post of interest, please share it with your friends.
We no longer accept advertising on this blog. Your donations help us to defray the costs of its operation and are much appreciated.
Stay informed

Follow the Bear - Subscribe today

Archives

A Brave New World Where Feeling Is Replacing Thinking

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

And so the Road Trip is over.

We actually returned late Saturday but I took Sunday and Monday to sit back and appreciate how much I enjoy returning to, and being at, home. I think we sometimes get so caught up in our day-to-day activity that we forget to stop and appreciate what we already have. It’s sort of like working your butt off to acquire something only to have no time to enjoy it once you have acquired it.

I also took the time to sit back and observe, rather than participate in, what’s happening across my social media timelines and online in general. We were only gone for a few days but you somehow always expect that you’ve missed something; as if the world has moved forward and you have a great deal of catching up to do.

But, there are no worries there. The more things change these days, the more they remain the same.

One thing I noticed quickly was that when you spend more time out in the real world than online, you lose sight of just how much self-righteous acrimony and judgmental sanctimony there really is on social media now. It’s almost as if there are two different species inhabiting the planet; one species that is pretty decent and a second species that is overrun by hysterical, shallow thinking in a virtual world.

Wherever we traveled, and it was well over 1500 kms, we mostly encountered friendly folks with their families. We saw people of all races interacting without any issues and experienced a considerable amount of laughter being shared. Within five minutes of being logged into my Facebook account, I read a half a dozen posts accusing others of everything from being racists to homophobic; fascists, communists, corrupt, liars and just flat out stupid.

Whoever coined the term social media had no clue what the word social means.

The sad part is that the opinions and the behaviour online are spilling over into the real world and whatever values we profess to hold as a society are being undermined by shallow thinking that is more emotional reaction than anything even vaguely related to an analytical thought process.

People respond to issues with “I feel that…..” rather than “I think that…..” It isn’t merely a choice of words. The simple fact is that feelings have become more important than thoughts. Opinions are formulated based on an emotional response to something and facts which might contradict that opinion are ignored or distorted so that the original opinion can be maintained.

Narratives and agendas have replaced real events so that when a young man is shot and killed during an altercation with a Neighbourhood Watch captain, the facts brought out in court are dismissed in order to maintain claims of racism. The fact that neither the defense nor the prosecution injected race as an issue in what happened is irrelevant because the narrative and the opinion behind it has to be preserved.

We have lost the ability and the willingness to acknowledge when we were wrong in the light of new information.

It is the same narrative that is defended by those with a weak-minded or self-serving agenda who label all who didn’t vote for the current president as racist. In their convoluted thinking, it isn’t possible to have made your election choice based on anything other than race. Economic and foreign policy, unemployment, opposition to the current health care plan are irrelevant. If you didn’t vote for Barack Obama, you are a racist even if you happen to be the same race as the president.

What troubles me aren’t so much the silly accusations, those we can deal with. You simply let stupid comments roll off like water off a duck’s back. What bothers me is how this lack of thought is eroding our civility and our ability to reason for ourselves. It is undermining our values as a society and creating situations that are almost schizophrenic in nature. We demand individual rights but cluster in herds and let the herd do our thinking for us.

Take the issue of  law enforcement and the use of Tazers.

In October 2007, Robert Dziekański who was a Polish immigrant to Canada was tazered by four members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) which resulted in his death. One of the things that came from his death was a demand that there be more control over who had access to Tazers on police forces. Many forces implemented a policy that only sergeants and above could carry Tazers in future as a result.

This summer, a young man brandishing a knife,  was shot on a street car by a Toronto Police officer. Again, putting aside the cause of the shooting, there are now demands to know why all police officers didn’t have Tazers and why they didn’t simply use one to immobilize Mr. Yatim instead of shooting him.

Why indeed?

It was a knee-jerk reaction to what happened in Vancouver that caused some governments and police forces to implement new policies about Tazer use in response to emotional but uniformed demands by the public, in particular the online public. There are now new demands that the police equip all officers with Tazers by that same public.

Both deaths were tragic and all the more so because they were unnecessary no matter who is responsible. The issue was never Tazers, the issue is more profound but we ignore it. Both Mr. Dziekański and Mr. Yatim were experiencing a personal crisis and the police were not equipped to handle it effectively.

Does that rise to the level of criminality? I don’t know because I don’t have all of the facts but the courts have ruled it was not in the case of the Vancouver incident and will soon make a determination in the Toronto shooting. Just as with the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the people who demanded justice are now claiming that justice is being served because the police officer involved has been charged with second degree murder. But I fully believe that just like the Trayvon Martin shooting, if he is acquitted, there will be new demands for justice.

Because we respond emotionally, we no longer trust our own justice system or even fully understand what justice may actually be. We are like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland

“I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,’ . . . ‘I’ll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.”

Social media has become a court – a court of uninformed expert opinion where people without any quantifiable experience or all of the facts pass judgment on others without regard for fundamental rights like due process or presumption of innocence. Everyone is an expert on everything – as long as it’s trending. If it isn’t trending, nobody cares. It is, as the Queen of Hearts said, ” Sentence first, verdict after” and if the mob doesn’t like the verdict, they refuse to change the sentence.

A young girl named Rhaetia Parsons was raped and bullied online by her rapists and her community. She eventually committed suicide and the same online community that was either silent or that participated in bullying her suddenly was outraged by her death. Not eight months earlier, another young girl named Amanda Todd committed suicide after being forced to move from one town to another because she was constantly bullied by members of her real and online communities. She appealed online for help in a compelling video but was mocked until she took her own life.

It never occurred to the social media mob to defend these girls while they were under attack. It was too busy condemning others  for other things and defending against any incursion by government to put some level of regulation into social media for the purpose of protecting people like Rhaetia and Amanda. In both cases it was originally trendy by many to bully these two girls until they died at which point it became trendy to express sympathy and outrage. It is beyond hypocrisy – it is a lack of thought, a lack of common decency and an erosion of social values in a world of distorted priorities.

Combined, it is a lack of civilized behaviour.

Condemnation of Russia’s new laws against the promotion of the gay lifestyle is another case in point. I think the law is wrong but not because I am an activist for the rights of gays and lesbians. I am opposed to discrimination of any kind and believe that all people should have the same rights regardless of race, religion, culture, political ideology, sexual orientation or gender. People are people and I believe that all people are equal and are entitled to the same level of respect and should equally benefit from the same rights as anyone else.

In countries like the Barbados and St. Lucia, popular vacation spots for North Americans, being gay is a criminal offense punishable by significant prison terms. In Iran, being gay is a capital offense and gay men are routinely hanged in public.

Nonetheless, that isn’t trending – Russia’s law is so all of the online sanctimony is directed at Russia. The oppression of gays in 75 other countries is ignored.

That seems fairly shallow thinking to me or more accurately, a lack of thinking. It is an emotional response based on something that is being circulated across social media about an issue that most who are demanding justice have never bothered to research. People simply want to be part of the ‘big’ story without having to actually live up to any consistent set of values that might force them to think beyond the moment.

From crime to fundamental rights, politics to the environment and pretty much everything in between, our societies are losing their values because most of the people in our societies can’t be bothered to look beyond what they feel. Their opinions are based on the opinions of others rather than on their own analysis of an issue. It is as true of global warming as it is of believing that vaccinations cause autism.

People line up on either side of an issue and the war of words begins. Somehow, the facts as they emerge get lost because nobody is listening. New facts for or against are dismissed by the other side or simply ignored. Nobody wants to ‘know’ because everybody simply wants to ‘feel’ that they’re right.

It’s a frightening thought that after six to seven thousand years of development, this is what civilization has come down to – howling mobs and kangaroo courts. Who would have thought that in a world where oppression still flourishes, the worst oppressors of our values and our rights would be ourselves.

Who indeed!

Every known civilization that has crumbled was destroyed from within by the erosion of its values. For all of out technological gadgets, we have learned nothing. Failing to have learned from  history, we may well be on our way to repeating it.

 

————————————————————————————————————-

© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

all rights reserved The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Let’s connect on Twitter: @maggsbear or send  a  friend request on Facebook to: Maggie’s Bear

————————————————————————————————————-

 

  • Pingback: A Brave New World Where Feeling Is Replacing Thinking | Grumpy Opinions()

  • CanadaGoose1

    But to a certain extent it starts in the day care centres and goes on to the school system. Everything is rewarded and nothing has any value.

    • MaggiesBear

      It starts with each of us We are, after all, the ones who demanded day care

  • CanadaGoose1

    I wonder how much of this has come from the generations of kids raised in day care centres. The ratio of child (or baby) to educator and the ratio of child to square footage is bad. The result is hours and hours where the child is at the mercy of more aggressive kids. He learns that there is no protection from his peers. The best toys go to the most aggressive kids and the child can’t build a structure for example in a corner without it being knocked down by another child. The educators can’t do much to discipline the kids and any criticism of a child results in the parents complaining to the day care director. There are some good day care centres, especially Montessori schools, but on the whole educators are just acting as referees and not even good ones.

    • MaggiesBear

      The problem isn’t day cares or even the aggressive kids, the problem is a society that refuses to teach self-discipline, respect and that places individual self-esteem higher than individual responsibility. It’s not day cares, it’s a lack of values and twisted priorities.

  • oldwhiteguy

    your observation is one that rush Limbaugh made many years ago. feeling rather than thinking. agreeing with everything that a person feels is right is a recipe for disaster.

  • Gramma Barb

    ditto! but how does a society teach the student to ‘think’ again?……when all students are attached to their social media equipment! to speak to a real person and look them in the eye, as you have a conversation is becoming a rare occurrence these days…..or even having a real discussion using ones ‘thoughts’ . Often I use the term…’I believe’ because I do not want to infringe my ‘thinking’ on another ….and to state my position on any given topic or situation, I do also ‘think’ ! I will say, reading social media gives one the character behind the words……. and there are a lot of loose cannons ‘out there’!

    • MaggiesBear

      I don’t know that you can teach someone to think after a certain point in their lives. It is easier to teach someone good habits than to correct bad ones and our society has indulged some pretty bad behaviour over the past couple of decades. What surprises me is just how quickly our civility and common sense have degenerated. If someone had suggested to me that it would happen this quickly or even at all twenty years ago, I would have called them delusional. But it is happening and it will tear down the very civilization we thought we were building and defending.

  • Wandering Mind

    Excellent, as usual. I would add ‘I believe’ is even more powerful than ‘I think’. Strongly held beliefs display an individual’s principles, morals and values, usdually arrivd at by way of experience and consideration. To me, there is no better way to gauge insight into the character of a person than to look at the beliefs to which he or she commits themselves.

    I must say I love your analysis of social media. It is spot on. From where I sit, social media is the tobacco of the 21st century. Slowly, surely and insidiously our moral, intellectual and ethical sense are being degraded in the same way tobacco use eats away at our bodies. More often than not, only when it is too late to undue the damage done. And by then, it is too late.

    As for what is and isn’t civilized behavior, I could not agree more with the subtext of this post. That we even have to discuss what that is or isn’t is astonishing. That groups or minorities are subject to discrimination is a sad commentary (but one that is expected) and directly related to the idealization of feelings over reason. Feelings justify and all irrational thought because feelings are selfish. Feeling in and of themselves are not a virtue. The Middle East is testimony to regimes which shrewdly and crudely manipulate our feelings so that terrorists have somehow become noble creatures worthy of our pity..

    Oh yeah, welcome home.

    • MaggiesBear

      As usual, we seem to be singing from the same song book. It never ceases to astonish me how little thought people put into their opinions or their comments. It’s like the words come out of their mouths (or finger tips) without benefit of having passed through their brains first.

      The first words l learned to speak as a child were please and thank you. Mommy and daddy came afterwards. We were taught manners, respect for others and given a work ethic. We were taught to be responsible for ourselves and to be generous to those who need our help. If we didn’t always live up to the standard, it wasn’t for lack of effort by those raising us. Today, it’s all about self-esteem, personal rights and the devil take the rest.

      There is no humility anymore. It has been replaced by an arrogant self-indulgence that is unsupported by ability or knowledge.

      • Wandering Mind

        Humility. I hadn’t even thought of that. I use (fancy) words like malignant narcissism and self absorption that in fact are really no more than the symptoms of disease lack of humility will bring. Think scurvy. No healthy diet, slow degeneration, big problems.

        Love the clarity.

        • MaggiesBear

          Clarity comes more easily to those of us with simple minds. :-)

      • oldwhiteguy

        I have had difficulty with humility over the years. when one is confronted with the level of stupidity that seems to be the norm today I am at times less than humble.

        • MaggiesBear

          I think there is a difference between being smart enough to recognize and resist stupidity and being so stupid you think you’re smarter than everyone else. I accept that I have much for which to be humble but recognizing and opposing stupidity isn’t one of those things.