Oct 10, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

I had to look up Uju Anya and I came across this article:


When I think of "teachable moments," I do not think of people like her, even though she styles herself as a "teacher." I think of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. They seem to better model a more productive transition from colonialist racism to some kind of post-colonial dialectic that actually produces something positive.

The truth is that some people just want attention. The Queen's death offered an opportunity to get loud and perform "outrage." It's so damn easy to do with social media. Most people who do it really have no skin in the game upon closer inspection. I'm still trying to understand what the Queen had to do with Prof. Anya's Nigerian father's philandering.

The United States did welcome her Trinidadian mother and Uju and her siblings as immigrants. She ended up going to Dartmouth. That's truly impressive, as is the story of Nigerian immigrants in the US generally.

So Uju could have told an inspiring story based on her own life, had she wished. But instead, we got hate.

Hate is so easy. Reconcilation is hard.

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"The Queen's death offered an opportunity to get loud and perform "outrage." It's so damn easy to do with social media."

This is the single greatest tragedy of the way we've decided to use social media. It's so easy to imagine a world where outrage wasn't the currency of social media. Where we rewarded compassion or sincerity or insight with our attention instead. Just imagine if Anya's tweet had just been quietly dismissed as the pointless vitriol it was.

I'd love to see some comprehensive research into why the internet seems to bring out our most negative qualities so much more than our positive ones.

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It begins with The Joy To Annoy. Not limited to trolls. People tend to use lesser goads like "amusing" and "thanks for playing" that arouse anger.

I'm as guilty of this as anyone, though not the instigation so much as in being aroused to anger, something I work hard at suppressing now. Some things just annoy the hell out of me, like the entire "trans" fad, pomposity, neologisms, and certain patterns of debate.

About two years ago I started getting tired of being angry all the time. It's a hard habit to break.

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I thought Queen Elizabeth was a sweet old lady who led a long and full life. It never crossed my mind to hold her responsible for historical atrocities she had nothing to do with.

And that is all I have to say about her death.

But we are living in a society that is increasingly fascist and one aspect of fascism is that everything is political, and for some reason most of us see a need to fight viciously over every tiny disagreement.

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"for some reason most of us see a need to fight viciously over every tiny disagreement."

Yep, agreed. The more I look at the world, the more I see this "for some reason" as the most pressing issue we need to figure out. It's a direct or indirect cause of so many of the other problems we face.

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Let me save you a lot of figuring out.

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation" — Nietzsche

Nearly everyone is frustrated and miserable, the lives we lead lack something. I don't want to get too verbose on this but some years ago I read about life in rural America in the mid 19th century, including a lot of diary entries. One thing I came away with was that people would just sit on a porch and sometimes not speak for hours. That kind of patience and peace is completely foreign to modern experience; three seconds of dead air and "well, gotta go, got things to do ..."

Horseshit. They have nothing to do, They just want to get back to their phone and their social networks.

I would love to discuss this in more detail sometime but I try to keep my posts brief.

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I've posted that link on dozens of Medium articles about restoring the interruption-free workplace I knew at Microsoft in 1990-1.

That wisdom has been completely lost.

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Say, Dave. I invited you a few weeks ago to write me, I repeat the invitation. cheopys@gmail.com.

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I have written a number of times and never received a reply. Some of it rather personal which has just become alarming. Is email from dmurray110@cox.net in your spam/junk folder?

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Nothing, but did you just receive my email?

Very strange that I got nothing.

This is where I got the name from. One of my favorite pieces of music of all time.


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This strikes me as projection. I'm a descendent of a place the UK colonized and I didn't really see much outpouring of rage when QEII died. Most people just shrugged and went about their days. Similarly, it's probably just a small minority with mental issues that feels the need to spout off and hand their own pet issue on this event. We as a society need to get better at tuning out professional agitators.

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"I didn't really see much outpouring of rage when QEII died."

Yeah, it wasn't so much the direct reaction to Queen Elizabeth dying, it was the reaction to the reactions. I go into this in more detail in the article itself, but her death became an excuse to argue about "white feminism," cultural appropriation, liberals vs conservatives, racism in a thousand different forms, even trans rights.

What the professional agitators do so often is twist a narrative into whatever pet grievance their audience likes to get mad about. Even if just by saying that "the other side" has it wrong. Of course, this was far less the case offline. But I think it's a mistake to underestimate the influence online discourse has on the world around us.

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> "Most people work jobs they hate, have dreams they’ll never fulfil, and are afraid to say what they think. Social media provides a release valve for all of this. "

I wonder if the first two are any different now than historically - most people work jobs that they hate, and have dreams they'll never fulfil. I suspect that was true of my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. But today the expectations are higher (not to say entitlement), and many younger folks expect that they should have employment which is well paid, unstressful, meaningful, challenges them only in good ways, in organizations they believe in, with bosses that they love and wonderful co-workers.

I suspect that there is a lot more tension and discontent between expectations and reality today than in earlier generations, and that most of that comes from higher expectations, rather than more degrading working conditions than our ancestors faced. Of course some people have jobs they love, which has always been true, but most people would not do the work they do unless they needed the money.

I do not know what has raised the expectations/entitlement; that's actually an interesting exploration. But social media may have served a role in allowing them to express and reinforce their discontent at not getting what they expected.

The third point in the quote - a widespread fear of speaking what they really believe - may be different. I think a smaller number of my parent's generation were intimidated by the McCarthy era, mainly some folks who had belonged to organizations which wound up being dominated by CPUSA members, and so were afraid they would be found on some list. My own family was working class, and I don't think they experienced any fear of speaking such as you describe. I do think the kind of fear is far more widespread today, and that it affects all levels of society - from rich celebrities to welders and housewives. And I agree that years of feeling intimidated and afraid to speak honestly can cause reactivity in ways that may be understandable but not be laudable, when the dam breaks. (Like the election of Trump, which I see as significantly drawing upon the resentment of that fear).

Alas, I don't see social media serving as a release valve - which allows excess pressure to vent so one can return to safe conditions. It's more like an amplifier of discontent - fostering more resentment, projections of ill will, demonizing of "the other side", and simplistic analyses playing to base emotions.

Here's the thing - while hating one's job and unfulfilled dreams have always been with us, they have co-existed alongside positives, and still do today. We still play sports, watch comedians, gather with friends and family, fall in love, cook & eat good food, form relationships, win prizes, go hiking, create quilts, solve puzzles, build gardens...

But I'm not sure people have the same perspectives as they did, in weighing what they are grateful for, and what they ignore or resent. If we take for granted the things we once would have been grateful for, we may not feel as fulfilled as our ancestors - the subjective balance of perceived good and bad may have shifted even more than the reality.

The other change is that I perceive a shift in terms of our culture's understanding of agency - the degree to which people believe they can shape their own fate, and on the flip side, the degree to which they feel responsible for that. Today I hear a lot more about how everything is the fault of some person or institution, and more concept that the government is supposed to fix every problem. Not exclusively, just relatively more; the concepts of self-responsibility and expecting society/government to fix things are at war today. For an example: to what degree is drug addiction (in general) attribute to a failure of personal agency, like bad decisions, versus treating the addicted person as a near passive victim of society's dysfunctions. Of course, in the real world, there is at least some truth to either perspective, but which perspective is treated as more important to understanding and improving the situation?

I think this (partial yet significant) rejection of agency does not foster a healthy balance of appreciation and resentment. Every problem can be seen as something that management (read other people, "society", or the government) should have already fixed, with our role being to complain loud enough that that outside force fixes it for us. And when they don't (fully), we are being told that we have a grievance to promote, rather than the power and responsibility to change things ourselves.

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"I wonder if the first two are any different now than historically - most people work jobs that they hate, and have dreams they'll never fulfil. I suspect that was true of my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents."

Yeah, I think you answered your question in the following sentences. The expectations of happiness and fulfilment are higher, people do certainly seem more entitled, and I'd add, people's mental health in general is in a worse state than in any generation previously. All of this creates new levels of discontent.

Alain De Botton has a great book on this topic (and also this documentary if you have a couple of hours to spare - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1MqJPHxy6g) where he talks about how the ability for any of us to dramatically change our social and economic status, something that was infinitely harder a few generations ago, has led to new feelings of anxiety and guilt for living a "normal" life.

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Erin seems to have more faith in mass media than I do, as well as in her ability to recognize where trauma truly comes from. I honestly think 'slave trauma' comes from reading and learning about the history of slavery (and only focusing on the transatlantic slave trade), rather than genetic trauma (although I won't rule it out, or deny it may be a contributing factor).

It's clear to me that a family as irrelevant as The Royals to most people in the world today garners far more attention and more hatred than they deserve. Watching the outsized hate and hysterics delivered at all of them - with only Prince Andrew worthy of any anger, really - on Twitter points to just how fucked up our world is, and how this plays well into the hands of the government and capitalists - we're not paying attention to the issues that affect *all* of us, and united we stand, divided we fall. They thank both the far left and the far right for their support.

There's WAAAAY too much attention paid to what people *claim* is causing their mental distress (which they believe) and the underlying pathologies driving it. No, they feel like they can't do anything about their future or unstable unemployment (they're wrong) so they take it out on #MeghanMarkleTheNarcissist and #KKKatherine and #CharlesIsAPsychopath. Yeah, there's racism in the royal family - and the Meghan-haters - and the Katherine-haters - and the House of Windsor has been fucked up for many, many years - but not as much as they were 25 years ago when Diana died and they had to do some real soul-searching. There was very real anger that stemmed from her death and she really was poorly treated by them. The Royals were hated even in England and I can *see* the differences today as opposed to 1997.

I'm getting very tired of hearing the past tossed up as though there was anything we can do about it. Why not focus on the present and the future, which is what we *can* change? But, when you keep people focused on ancient history and unimportant items today ("OMG DID QUEEN ELIZABETH REALLY ASK IF THEY WERE GOING TO HAVE A BLACK BABY?" #QueenElizabethIsAndrewJacksonReincarnatedWhichNowThatIThinkAboutItMightMakeHerTrans) they're not thinking about what they can do about their present and future, which would not align very well with the objectives of the government and capitalists.

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A value (actually values) that I find in these commentaries is both your studied thoughts on matters of controversy and the thoughts of other readers. This is not the often-hostile environment found in other places.

I don't view these conversations as a debate I am trying to win. Sometime discovering that I am wrong is a big win if it includes a better understanding of something for me.

I often give background information about how and why I came to a conclusion, which has little to nothing to do with a universal truth or correctness. I am as interested in why presumably intelligent people hold views that I may see as fabulous as their views. Links to studies can be informative, but they are also often annoying when they are an appeal to authority via conclusions that support their view so they "win." You can find a study to support any view. They often confuse opinions and conclusions about data with facts.

I think that one of the things at the root of all this is that people wrap their identity with their beliefs which are often more about belonging to a tribe than their personal honest beliefs.

The queen? An apparently nice lady who dutifully performed in a position not of her own choosing with grace. That was both good and bad. if she had openly been an asshole the monarchy might have already collapsed. As an American I wouldn't find that disturbing. The UK already has an incredibly asinine system of government where you vote for the ultimate evil, a political party to rule over you. But then in the US the "vote blue no matter who" and its "never vote for a lunatic leftist" evil twin demonstrates that what we call democracy is basically the same steaming pile of crap with a buzzard vomit topping.

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"Most people work jobs they hate"

.. where they earn just barely enough money to continue working at a job they hate.

Small wonder that as soon as the pandemic and WFH gave some people a taste of a different life =, many decided to not go back to the office with a manager who contributed nothing to their work except interruptions and stress.

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Imagine how discomfiting it is for someone of lifelong passionate liberal credentials to find oneself agreeing with hateful conservatives on something. But there we are.

At least, there I am. I hate "woke." I hate the elevation of attention-starved fake "trans" people and "nonbinary" twits to oppressed minorities. I hate images of racial minorities playing Tolkien characters (I don't watch the show and everyone I know who was watching it has stopped). I hate grievance being more valuable than achievement. I hate "everyone gets a trophy." I hate the celebration of differences raised over the cultivation of commonality.

But Christ do I hate finding myself in agreement with conservatives.

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The Marine Corps drafted for about a year due to heavy combat losses. We got a guy in platoon who was anti-war and even expressed the view that America was the bad guy.

His first night ambush made contact. He discovered that in war it's not about good guys and bad guys. It's about our guys and their guys, and he was a Marine, like it or not.

I'm certain that the enemy had people I would have liked if we had met someplace other than war. That is the problem I see with allowing ourselves the us vs them as an enemy where we cannot allow ourselves any thought of humanity in them.

There are things to agree or disagree with on both sides of the political divide, but once we have demonized them we are effectively at war.

Jim Webb, a life long Democrat who's failed run for POTUS said that the party had moved away from the values he associated with it. Tulsi Gabbard just said the same. The party has been taken over by people that neither you or I associate with liberalism. Painful to see when their opposition does not represent what you hold dear. The devil sometimes speaks truth, but you don't need to join his legions to acknowledge it.

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This organization might be of interest to you.


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The newly woke are much like new vegans and cross fitters.

As Bobby McFerrin sang in Don't Worry, Be Happy, "In every life we have some trouble. But when you worry you make it double," everyone has troubles. But when you try to make yours exclude the troubles of other people you go beyond making yourself miserable.

Do minorities, women, and people on the edges of social norms face issues that I don't? Yes. Does that mean their issues are worse than mine? No. They might, and they might not. It's not a given. I see ranking your woes as a fruitless endeavor.

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