Baskets of deplorables

OK this is a political post. You might infer something about my political leanings from this, and you might classify me as a “deplorable”, but I run that risk.

I don’t like the way our politics is turning out nowadays. You are free to interpret “our” and “nowadays” in whatever way you want. What I don’t like is that people seem to wear their political beliefs on their sleeve, and think it is okay to shame and cut contact with people who don’t share their beliefs.

I don’t know when exactly this started – but it was surely sometime between 2013 and 2016. The culmination of this attitude was US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton describing her opponent Donald Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables“. And that attitude seems to be being taken forward by people of various political dispensations three years on.

I long for the days when people treated their political opinions like their private parts – stuff that existed and was put to good use when required, but not put on display. Nowadays, though, trawl through any social media platform, and you find people making political statements all the time. If you aren’t in a filter bubble, you will surely be seeing flamewars. And a difference in political opinion is no longer just a difference in opinion – you consider someone with differing views as despicable.

I’m friends with a lot of people who hold strong political opinions, and whose opinions might differ from mine. I don’t care about it – since there is plenty to them otherwise that makes them valuable to me, and so I continue to hang out with them.

Some people, on the other hand, don’t think like this. According to them, some political positions are so horrible that anyone who endorses that position is necessarily a horrible person, and not worth engaging with. For them, their political axis is fundamentally uni-dimensional – the world doesn’t exist outside of the dimension that they consider to be a dealbreaker.

As a consequence, any stand endorsed by a politician who endorses their dealbreaker position also becomes a dealbreaker. Political commentary and evaluation is based on who takes the stand, rather than the stand itself. Everything is seen through a political lens, and anyone who disagrees with them is worthy of ridicule.

It is sad that politics has taken over our lives so much, and people consider other people’s political opinions as such an important part of their lives. And the way social media and feedback loops work, I see no way out of this.

3 thoughts on “Baskets of deplorables”

  1. At some point previously I actually thought that political apathy and ignorance was part of the problem. People have definitely become a lot more politically engaged now and that is turning out to be unbearable. You cannot go anywhere without listening to people’s political opinions. Now, I miss the days of political apathy.

  2. While excommunicating people on the basis of their political opinion is terrible, being open about one’s political affiliation isn’t. If others don’t have the maturity to handle an opinion, should the person stop expressing it? This mindset of ridiculing those with a differing political opinion is exemplified by several quizzers and I guess this post is targeted at them. The likes of Prithwiraj Mukherjee, Arul Mani, Suresh Ramasubramaniam and Thejaswi Udupa are some examples of those afflicted with this mindset. Hope they read this, but hard to be hopeful about these people becoming more open minded.

  3. Good post!

    WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter have radicalized the formerly apathetic.

    This has made interacting with relatives, old friends, etc. more painful.

    At the same time, some people (in my experience ~half of them) who are deeply ideological on WhatsApp or Twitter are often much more moderate and reasonable when you talk to them face to face. I don’t know what to make of it.

    The political flamewars on Twitter have led me to drastically curtail my time on Twitter. Now, I just login now and then and catch up on tweets from ~10-15 people at a time and engage only if there is a compelling reason to do so.

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