Thursday, 10 December 2015

Living in Reality On-Line

Dealing in social media and voicing an opinion on-line is like walking through a minefield with snowshoes on - there is no way to navigate it safely and you will eventually end up blowing something up no matter how carefully you step.

The only way to avoid this is to choose a group, a clique, an ideological position on-line and never deviate from the popularly accepted narrative of it, ever. That makes you safe and accepted on-line and it ensures that you will always have a group of people to back you up when inevitable disagreements arise - it means you are not alone and at the mercy of the easily offended and ignorant opposition if you speak up. It means you have safety in numbers - that your opinions, arguments, or positions can be logically and factually flawed, but as long as they are accepted by your group you don't ever have to really think about them because you are safe and accepted inside that group - that safe-space echo chamber.

It's not just feminists, SJWs, or regressives doing this. It's common to all sides, ideologies, and groups. It's human nature to want to band together and have our opinions, views, beliefs and positions validated. It is comforting to have others around us that agree with us and who don't question us. It's an easy and safe way to live and human beings will almost always seek out the easiest and safest ways to navigate through life.

But what do you do when you hold opinions, views, or positions that do not fit completely within any one group? What do you do when you are the type of person that likes to challenge comfortable and lazy thinking or ideological narratives? What do you do when you disagree with a position or opinion commonly held by a group you would tend to otherwise agree with? What do you do when you are not complacent and merely satisfied with going along to get along?
You have two options available here. You either shut your mouth and ignore the fact that what the group is saying, promoting, or believing is logically and factually wrong and keep going along to get along, or you speak out and challenge them. The former is the easy and safe route, the latter is most likely going to get you drummed out of the group and vilified as an 'other' if you insist that what they are saying, promoting, or believing is logically and factually wrong, or in some way objectionable, no matter how much evidence or logic you bring to the table. This behavior happens across the board because it is human nature to want to be accepted as part of a group, and to do so means you must conform in some way or another.

So what do you do when you are the type of person that values intellectual honesty, logically sound arguments, facts, evidence, rationality, and moral integrity above other concerns? When you refuse to go along just to get along, because doing so would mean that you had to forego your own principles and values just to remain part of a group?

The answer as simple, as it is uncomfortable - but as someone who embraces reality you probably already knew that would be the case. The answer is that you refuse to label yourself as part of any group and accept that most people will hate you because you refuse to pledge blind allegiance to one side or another. Most people cannot understand the concept of accepting or rejecting arguments based solely on their merits and the logical conclusions that follow from them, no matter which side or group they are coming from.
There is little tolerance for anyone who thinks independently or who does not march in lock-step with the party line. To do so means you are not only questioning or challenging the status quo of the group, but you are also questioning and challenging the identities of those within it. You are essentially seen as attacking them personally because their personal identities are so intertwined with the group's ethos.
This naturally puts people on the defensive because they fear having their ideologies, ideas and beliefs exposed - the mere suggestion of having those things exposed as being illogical, irrational, hypocritical and inconsistent leaves them fearful of being exposed and vulnerable to reality, which is not a comfortable or secure place.

Reality is cold, uncaring, and scary for most. Living in reality means that you must acknowledge that nothing is ever just black and white - there are multitudinous shades of grey in-between everything that require us to put in a level of effort that most humans are not equipped to even contemplate in order to fully understand the vast complexities of the world in which we live. Nothing is simple, nothing is easy, and nothing is one-sided in reality. There are uncomfortable truths to be found in reality that will test one's morality, ethics, integrity, logic and principles constantly. Reality demands that we acknowledge things about ourselves that are uncomfortable and sometimes scary, and most people are not willing or even capable of facing it.

The people who accept reality and who refuse to adhere to a static system of thought also accept that they will be labeled by others as being part of one group on Monday, and another on Tuesday because our argument, idea, or discussion du-jour fits neatly inside that particular 'box' for that moment. But the moment you speak out on a different subject or topic, you may easily find yourself being vilified by the same group that readily accepted and assumed you to be one of them and cast aside as being part of the other, or opposing group. Your arguments and ideas are only valid to them as long as it fits snugly within their approved group narrative, but once you say anything that breaches the acceptable boundaries of that group narrative, you are no longer considered to be credible or logical by that group - you are essentially a heretic that needs to be cast out.

Those of us that like reality also accept that we will be navigating most of our lives out on the fringes of society where few of us dare to go. It's often a lonely and frustrating place to be - watching others live life in a sort of blissful ignorance where their happiness and comfort is mere illusion built on the refusal to acknowledge reality - a house built on sand. But for us, we cannot even contemplate becoming complacent or irrational - to do so would be almost impossible because reality is always clearly visible to us and impossible to ignore. We accept and embrace reality, and the solitary life it tends to bring with it, enjoying the occasional meeting of others that embrace it as we do. We accept and tolerate others who do not embrace or accept reality and do not fault them for their choices. We recognize that reality is not for everyone.

But reality, for us that embrace it, is beautiful, exciting, challenging and meaningful, and is never dull – and that is what drives us to continue to live out on the fringes – because without reality, life ceases to be worth living.