We Are All Losing the Woke Wars
I’ve just about fucking had it…
I think most of this shit started in 2016 when sportsball player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem. I might be wrong about that, but I’m probably not since any challenge to sportsball traditions is sure to cause an uproar whatever it’s about. Whatever the case, the war has been ongoing for like 10 years already and I have been hearing the same whining about it without modification. I don’t need to summarize it all for you: cancel culture this, freedom of speech that, gender, gender, gender, race. I hear about it from the leftists on youtube, from family in the South, from my fucking tattoo artist for 5 hours while he is doing my arm. It’s everywhere, it’s obsessive, and since it’s so obviously obsessive that indicates to me it’s obviously psychological. So what is it that’s going on?
Simply put, the social sciences have spent the past 60ish years revising how personality, culture, and social networks are modeled. The revisions that came from that effort were incompatible with numerous older models. Now that these reformulations have made their way into public discourse via students of the social sciences and the politicians using them as examples to freak people out, all those people who relied on more simple models are upset that they are being told their way of mapping reality is …simplistic. They are struggling to negotiate between two desires. The practical desire to revise their models so that they can be in touch with the world they actually live in and the egoistic desire to have their seniority and senior worldviews respected, knowing from experience that it was those worldviews that enabled their own journey through life. It’s a tough one and the two desires are mutually exclusive. But it isn’t a big mystery.
What happened? Were they always wrong or did society change? Did immigrants change the social structure and invalidate their models? Are endocrine disrupters changing the matrix of gender characteristics that they came to know? Is there a conspiracy by some sort of cosmopolitan elite to usher in a world of diversity and chaos for the sake of profits?
At the end of the day, most people don’t need a more complicated model of these things. For example, a more complicated model of human biological sex than the two sexes. But if they are a health care provider, they better understand that intersex categories exist and respond to them correctly. However, healthcare has become political and this makes it suddenly relevant to public discourse. No surprise that when Bernie Sanders made Universal Healthcare a popular topic, people started freaking out about some ideas concerning biological sex. So on the one hand most people don’t need to use these models in daily life unless their social context puts them into contact with minorities, like intersexed people; but on the other hand, they need to vote on funding for healthcare that might address intersex-specific treatments.
It’s the same kind of problem with police funding and race. It’s the same with gender transitions. It’s the same with diet and animal products. These are all issues that are touched by public funding, so politicians are looking for ways to split the population into camps. One way they do that is by causing moral panics over “wokeism”: critical race theory in schools, drag queen story hour at libraries, attacks on Christian values by gay marriage, etc. Their poor tax dollars are getting so misused… lol.
I don’t know what more there is to say about all this. The new, so-called “woke” models of social life are more complex and they incorporate the old models into them. So while the old models can represent some of social life, they are incomplete. This means that if you are an adherent of the old models, you can validate them fairly effortlessly and it seems unnecessary to revise them. However, should you bump up against some part of reality that your model doesn’t adequately represent, you’ll get mind fucked. Geographically, this would be like living your life with only a map of your home town, but having no idea what the world is like outside your town. That isn’t a problem until you try to go out of town, which you avoided doing your whole life. But, now you have to go somewhere else and you just don’t like how that’s going.
Some opportunists have taken advantage of this situation by elaborating arguments for why people shouldn’t need to worry and shouldn’t bother updating their models. In fact, maybe they should prevent anyone else from updating their models too! It’s an old trick. It has a long history. But either way, models can be tested. Are we doing that in our public discourse? No. What we are doing instead is we’re playing fucking games …and since they are games that can only be lost, we are all losing.
Convincing people to adopt a map for a world outside the town they will never bother leaving is a losing game. Trying to prevent people from mapping complex social terrain is a losing game. The winning game is to actually use accurate models to do things. The way physical models are used to make medicines and machines. The point is to effectively act in the world. If our models do that then we should keep them. If they don’t or they’re just irrelevant then we shouldn’t get too hung up defending them.