Troubling Times

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Food for thought, and emotional triggers ahead, because doesn’t everything.. :-/

coin standing on its edge
Three sides to a coin

Looking at the present day, it seems the very notion of committing to a journey that may be potentially unpleasant is foreign if not abhorrent to people. It’s hard to find those that seem to really value committing to roles, to choices, or to relationships – especially when things get difficult. The very notion of tolerating discomfort seems an affront to our sensibilities, even when it will be good for us in the end.

When things get uncomfortable, such as when we are being pushed and challenged, there is a modern tendency to balk, push back, or escape the discomfort by running away. Escape tactics vary, from ghosting to fighting/confrontation to self-destruction and relationship sabotaging… but it’s always about getting out and going to easier (more comfortable) pastures. The challenge of the Journey has been forsaken for the enjoyment of the Experience – much like opting out of a hike up a mountain for the ride of a roller coaster.

This strong aversion to discomfort also impacts our ability to allow for the in-between spaces, as these grey zones are not certain, and thus uncomfortable. Uncertainty has become an affront to our sensibilities – so instead of looking at the ill-defined or uncertain as a potential for opportunity, it’s looked at with abject fear and hatred. There is an increasingly louder cry for there to be some standard within The Community (capital letters intended) because people no longer understand or comprehend something not uniform – something that lives in the in-between and grey zones.

Increasingly there is the insistence in more binary definitions – please hear me out before you trigger and start flaming…

When I write that there’s increasing tendency to binarism, it means we are seeing an increased insistence on reducing all matters into definitive judgments of good or bad. That is binarism: when any matter is reduced to two and often diametrically opposed absolutes. Using a sensitive topic as an example, the belief that any degree of gender binarism is Bad, and that any such distinguishment must be obliterated to be Good. This ignores that there are valid distinguishments regarding gender identity, expression, body/form, and those of internal physiology (genetic and the musculoskeletal structure).

Take this example, If I’m speaking from the perspective of being a straight male (CIS),  and not speaking to a non-binary or alt-gendered individual, that this is somehow bad even though I AM a straight male. Would it not be disingenuous were to to try to speak as anything but my own experience, and then allow others the freedom to extrapolate and apply to their own experience as needed? Should I try to speak as a gay trans? or perhaps I should try to speak about the black American experience even though I grew up as a white male in a middle/lower-middle income neighborhood? Wouldn’t that be insulting to assume I CAN speak to a life other than what I have lived?

When we close our ears and minds to anything that does not appeal to us Directly we lose out on the opportunity to learn from others – especially things that cross all human cultures and definitions like the need for family, love, companionship, comradery, respect, dignity, etc…

Another way of looking at this is by recognizing we are insisting on a “False Dichotomy” – where a given situation or idea is represented only one of two options, even though many others are possible. Making the assumption that there can be only two positions is often a tactic employed to force an ideological opponent into an extreme position, often resulting in a highly charged emotional response (i.e. manipulation).

False dichotomies can form due to misunderstanding or misinformation, zero-sum competition, adversarialism, and pre-existing hostilities. When everything seemingly needs to be viewed as something that must be applied to everyone everywhere, or it’s somehow an affront to us personally, we are on a very dangerous road indeed. When you hear one talk in absolutes it indicates false dichotomy is already in play and a tendency to reduce all matters into a binary.

This may be fine from a decision making perspective for yourself, but it does not serve forming connections, social interactions, goal achieving, problem solving, and all the other myriad of activities we are faced with on a daily basis. So it may not be a matter of Right or Wrong, Good or Bad, but rather what is right or wrong for You, what is good or bad for You. And that’s fine as long as we don’t insist that its the same for everyone.

Ultimately, binarism is the result of losing our ability to tolerate our own discomfort in the face of something different. It devalues the benefits from personal challenge, emotional growth, social engagement, and cooperative negotiation. Which I find amusing, because it’s exactly those reasons that so many state why they choose this type of lifestyle…