Thursday, 14 June 2018

On Political Discourse (or Why I Think Everyone Sounds Like They Hate Each Other on Twitter)

I have one thing to say on the nature of public, political and internet discourse at this point in time.

Our language sucks for expressing ourselves.

If I look at the stats and discover that in 2017 gingers bought more hair dye per capita than blondes and then state as much, I am expressing a fact about what happened in 2017. It's an unusual statement to make, but let's imagine I'm trying to minimise the effect of hair dye use on local river pollution.(Disclaimer: I did no research on hair dye stats for this article).

If I look at gingers and think their hair is an inherently ugly colour and then state that gingers will always buy more hair dye because they're ugly and we should probably try to have fewer gingers to keep pollution down then I am being a dick, as well as missing out on many fine potential relationships with many fine gingers. (Preferring the look of blonde hair wouldn't make me a dick, but expecting it to be recognised as fact as the basis for discrimination against gingers would).

Unfortunately the way our language works I can say something like 'Gingers incur higher hair dye costs' and it's absolutely unclear to the reader which of the two statements above I'm really making. It would then be totally understandable that a bunch of people online would read two totally different interpretations into my uncontextualised statement and then accuse one another of ginger-hating and truth-denying.

Sometimes someone's being a dick, and sometimes they're denying the truth. Based on the real world humans I've met I'd bet most of the time people are just trying to share some truth and compassion in a world of people calling each other names.

PS Sorry gingers, you're just a less publicly volatile case study than race and gender.

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