Friday, September 20, 2019

The Sum of Our Parts

If you ever want to understand the concept behind gestalt psychology (that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) get an OKCupid account, answer a bunch of questions, and then spend a few days checking out your high matches. I guarantee you will feel instantly both seen and understood but also strangely atomized into useless piles of meaningless homogeneous components.

Perhaps I should back up just a tad....

I'm dating.

Okay that's not true. I'm TRYING to date.

One day, many years after a terrible break up, I woke to the realization that all of my relationships were long distance or involved people who were married and had very full lives already. Meanwhile, I spend most Friday nights watching old Star Trek shows and cooking for one. I decided to try to find if there was someone polyamorous, close, and available ENOUGH that they might want to join forces to take down The Legion of Doom.

So far, this involves poking at OKCupid and scowling a lot.

One of the weirdest things about OKCupid is how it both knows and doesn't know me. It quickly gained a sense of the important component parts that make me up from these questions I answered. It successfully knows what I like, what I don't like and (for the most part) what would be deal breakers*. However, what OKCupid doesn't seem to understand how those things work together. It pulls these aspects of apart when it's showing me matches.

*Of course, I'm talking about the algorithmic searches. The recommendations they send me are comically bad––like that well meaning family member who just DOESN'T GET IT. "No Aunt Martha, I'm pretty sure a 64% match monogamous lesbian and me aren't going to hit it off. I just have that feeling."

See I have many things that make me who I am (values and interests and passions), but I am not just those things. I am more than the sum of those parts. What is also important is the way those things COMBINE AND INTERACT and exist in a rich, nuanced, and vital air/fuel mixture. When they are pulled apart, I find myself intensely uncomfortable. Any one ingredient in my "special blend" taking over creates something that I am actually actively uninterested in. The way their algorithm works, unless someone is OPPOSED to another part of my persona, they show up as a high match because we "get along" so well in the one aspect. I'm talking mid-to upper 90s.

There are artists, but they are so artsy, they don't DO mainstream media. They are apathetic to politics. They have dinner parties, drink wine, argue about dadaism and seek out artsy experiences.

There are contrarian activists who are unwilling to see anything that isn't independent film, who never watch Netflix, never play video games, and never spend money that they think would help a capitalist.

There are spiritual existential thinkers who are so love-is-all-you-need that they're about to float off the Earth and evolve to rejoin the solar wind or something. They don't want to hear about how angry social issues make you (especially not if it's about their cultural appropriation of "exotic" religious iconography), because they're just too full of love and harmony for that negativity.

There are these entrepreneur go-getters who are going their own way and carving their life out in a world that loves people to punch a clock, but they have exactly zero time for politics, movies, mainstream media. If it's not improving their outreach or landing them a client, what is even the point?

There are geeks and nerds who love the MCU and video games but who hate how "everything is political these days" and think feminism has "gone too far."

There are those wary of government power.......so wary that they have become libertarians, and think that everything they have was earned. That no advantages exist because they are white, have intergenerational wealth, or benefit from roads or an educated citizenry.

I am all these things.

But I am none of THESE things.

There isn't a thing on here, I don't consider a part of me.  Every single of these is something I'd consider important to who I am––vital even––but pulled apart, I find these people horrifying. Disengaged, uninteresting, vapid, and often extreme to the point of caricature.  Without the other aspects in that perfect mixture that blends, combines, synergizes, and limits any ONE part of me from being too much, I find the singular aspects....well the opposite of romantically tempting.

Maybe I should take up line dancing....

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

They Don't Value Honesty

Trump is a liar. Even his most ardent supporters (using euphemisms like "alt-facts" or "loose relationship with the truth” or the even worse “oh it’s just his way”) will admit that. He lies about shit that is not even important and easily verifiable––like what he said on record or that there are clips of. His supporters knew it. They liked it about him (along with the bigotry). They don't value honesty. Perhaps even more accurately, they value dishonesty. Or at least they value dishonesty if it works better than honesty does to achieve what they want.

Trump’s "the lurkers secretly agree with me" lies are not easy to confirm or deny and he's always talking about the "many people" who agree with what he says, but sometimes (like a couple of weeks ago regarding tariffs on China or this thing with the sharpies and Alabama), he just starts making up conversations that he never had with other foreign leaders. Like, you can maybe get away with claiming to have had a conversation if you know the person you're lying to isn't going to immediately go check with that person. We are all guilty of talking up what a hard ass we were or how reasonable we were (when the other person would characterize things very differently), but with Trump we're talking whole cloth fabrication here. Entire conversations with people––easily verifiable––that NEVER HAPPENED. But his supporters don’t care because they don’t value honesty.



Or more recently doubling down on something misinformed until he’s involved in a scandal with the NOAA and threats of firings. You know honesty is not your jam when your ego is so fragile that you have to threaten to fire members of a government body (NOAA) if they don’t back up the lie you’ve already doubled and tripled down on. You know you're okay with lying when a state spending millions for hurricane preparedness means less to you than admitting you misread the "green zone" on a map as being more significant than it is. 



And guess what? His supporters STILL like it about him. They like his fantasy. They like his grand conspiracy theories about entire science disciplines trying to make him look bad with a grand coverup and the media that just “never gives him a break.” They like his made-up conversations. They like someone who just gets up there and says something that pisses off the people they hate. They know it's a lie (they do), and they don't care because they kind of dig the lie. The lie upsets the people they don't like. It's like when the bullies all agree to say that it's Wednesday and the more someone tries to prove it's Monday, the harder they laugh. They don't value honesty.

THEY DON'T VALUE HONESTY.

Truth only matters when it gets them what they want or can be used as a cudgel against their opponents (or "enemies" as Trump has now taken to saying openly and often). As soon as it stops working––the INSTANT it isn’t useful––they happily abandon it for deceit and falsity. (Much like open democracy or free markets, but that’s a whole other rant.)



So the whole "Truth will merit out" brigade are bringing knives to a gunfight. Expecting the GOP to gasp when it becomes clear (well, clearER to many of us) that Kavanaugh perjured himself under oath about sexual predation to achieve a lifetime appointment to the highest court is not reasonable. And the tendency for the intelligentsia to think they're going to Snopes their way to Trump supporters one day saying, ”Holy shit. He LIED!” is predicated on values that Trump supporters simply do not have. We say it to ourselves to remind each other that This Is Not Normal, but we are not going to sway those who have chosen their moral values. That’s NOT going to happen.

Because they don’t value honesty.