40 votes

What is something that most people don't realize is harmful?

This can be anything: a product, a social convention, a mindset, etc. Share why it's harmful and, if possible, what better alternatives exist.

I'll also open the question to things that people know are harmful but whose harm is mostly hidden, downplayed, or not understood.

As with any question like this, it might open up some difficult or challenging answers, so please listen with empathy and apply the principle of charity in your responses.

127 comments

  1. [16]
    monarda
    Link
    Not affirming the compliments given to our loved ones, or worse undermining them. Example: When my middle son was in middle school, there were a lot of sleepovers on the weekends with his friends....

    Not affirming the compliments given to our loved ones, or worse undermining them.

    Example: When my middle son was in middle school, there were a lot of sleepovers on the weekends with his friends. Sometimes he'd go to his friend's houses and sometimes they would come to our house. When I would pick him up from his friend's house parents always complimented how well-behaved my son was, and I would reply with a laugh with something like, "You should see him at home, he's very different." This would often open up conversation where we would commiserate about the bad behavior our kids had. One weekend one of his friend's spent the weekend with us, and he was an absolute joy to be around. When his parents came to pick him up, I said, "Your son is amazing to have around." They replied, "We know," and started talking about all the ways their son was amazing.

    At the time I was dumbfounded, and I didn't even really know how to respond. Shortly thereafter, I started feeling a lot of shame as I looked at how often I would not accept compliments on behalf of my son. He was an amazing kid, but it was never how I presented it to others. I guess I was in the habit of bonding with other parents over bad behavior. And more horrifying, I did this in front of my son. I would tell him I was proud of him when we were alone but never in front of other people. It was a really bad habit that was really hard to break.

    And I notice it all around me. I see spouses do it to each other, parents do it to their children, and bosses do it to their employees. And I think its hurtful when it is a default response. It's dismissive of the amazingness of those who want or need to be seen by us.

    61 votes
    1. [9]
      Douglas
      Link Parent
      To add to that, IIRC affirming a compliment to yourself will actually boost your inner self-esteem. It took me too long to grow to accept them (though I admittedly probably still dismiss them when...

      To add to that, IIRC affirming a compliment to yourself will actually boost your inner self-esteem. It took me too long to grow to accept them (though I admittedly probably still dismiss them when they're from my wife; I should stop doing that), and when I do I never know what to do with myself in that moment. I always think of John Oliver when he left the Daily Show and Jon Stewart bid him farewell with compliments, just awkwardly sitting there crying because when your self esteem is dogshit it is an emotional climb over a hurdle to just take a positive statement about yourself from someone else at face value and not just immediately compliment them back because you feel obligated to equalize the situation.

      I think it was a documentary on comics that got me to learn this behavior. They interviewed Bill Watterson (of Calvin & Hobbes) who said something like "I tried to ignore my audience as much as possible and just make comics I thought were funny, and if it got a laugh from my wife that was good enough for me." And it's true! The compliments you receive from your loved ones is all you should ever care about because they are your world as much as you are theirs, and if you are making their world better enough for them to give you a compliment, then you are doing something right. So accept them, and give them to your loved ones-- dismissed or not! Drive them home like Good Will Hunting if you must!

      17 votes
      1. [2]
        monarda
        Link Parent
        I was meeting a client for the first time face to face, and at the end of the meeting he mentioned picking his wife up from the beauty parlor, and I said something to the effect, "I bet she's...

        (though I admittedly probably still dismiss them when they're from my wife; I should stop doing that)

        I was meeting a client for the first time face to face, and at the end of the meeting he mentioned picking his wife up from the beauty parlor, and I said something to the effect, "I bet she's going to look great!" And he looked at me and said, "she always looks great, but whenever I tell her she says I just say that because I'm her husband. Why isn't the way I see her mean anything to her?" And he went on to talk about how sometimes on a whim he wants to go out, but she won't go because she says she looks like crap, and what if so and so saw her looking like that, but he's looking at her thinking she looks as lovely as ever. It was an awkward rant to listen to, and he went on for about 15 minutes wondering why his wife didn't trust that he thought she was beautiful. Ever since then I've made a habit of accepting compliments from my husband. He's not liar, I should believe that what he says is true and smile and be happy that he saw me.

        Compliments coming from outside my immediate family fill me with dread, and it is much harder to accept them. Whenever I say thank you in response, it makes me feel stuck-up.

        14 votes
        1. emmanuelle
          Link Parent
          oh boy. just noticed I do the same thing as that guy's wife to my boyfriend. :(

          oh boy. just noticed I do the same thing as that guy's wife to my boyfriend. :(

          5 votes
      2. [6]
        Crocodile
        Link Parent
        Completely agree. I have a tendency to dismiss, and sometimes even invalidate complements I receive. Usually, not to the person, but I think about it internally. I realized this pattern and that I...

        Completely agree. I have a tendency to dismiss, and sometimes even invalidate complements I receive. Usually, not to the person, but I think about it internally. I realized this pattern and that I needed to work on it. I still do, but it makes one so much happier when a compliment is fully accepted.

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          emmanuelle
          Link Parent
          i don’t particularly feel great about accepting compliments. it makes me feel like a liar

          i don’t particularly feel great about accepting compliments. it makes me feel like a liar

          6 votes
          1. mrbig
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            A compliment is a show of appreciation. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect in any way. It’s just nice. I accept all compliments, they make me feel good. I say thank you and get on with my life.

            A compliment is a show of appreciation. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect in any way. It’s just nice. I accept all compliments, they make me feel good. I say thank you and get on with my life.

            5 votes
        2. [4]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. [3]
            Crocodile
            Link Parent
            Felt that. Just curious, as you mentioned you were in that honors award video, are you the type to always push yourself and/or you think you are sometimes not good enough? I'll be open here, and I...

            Felt that. Just curious, as you mentioned you were in that honors award video, are you the type to always push yourself and/or you think you are sometimes not good enough?

            I'll be open here, and I see that^ happening to me, and perhaps that could be part of the difficulty with accepting compliments. Wanted to see if it applied to others as well.

            Regardless, congratulations on that award :)

            4 votes
            1. [3]
              Comment deleted by author
              Link Parent
              1. [2]
                Crocodile
                Link Parent
                Well, that's what senior year is for :P I hadn't considered that before, good insight!

                Well, that's what senior year is for :P

                I also can see it just as me not being used to attention, and not really knowing what to do with it.

                I hadn't considered that before, good insight!

                2 votes
                1. [2]
                  Comment deleted by author
                  Link Parent
                  1. Crocodile
                    Link Parent
                    Really unfortunate it ended for y'all like that. But, we all gotta push through.

                    Really unfortunate it ended for y'all like that. But, we all gotta push through.

                    1 vote
    2. Gub
      Link Parent
      This is a great insight. Thanks for being open about your realization. I used to jokingly bad-mouth my friends when we were in public, out at a bar/party or otherwise meeting new people. I...

      This is a great insight. Thanks for being open about your realization.

      I used to jokingly bad-mouth my friends when we were in public, out at a bar/party or otherwise meeting new people. I realized that it was an easy way to get a cheap laugh out of the new person. They wouldn't have known whether I was being serious or not, but of course my friend would. It came from a place of immaturity where I was uncomfortable opening up to new people.

      10 votes
    3. Icarus
      Link Parent
      Damn, this is a good one. I will have to be way more mindful about this in the future.

      Damn, this is a good one. I will have to be way more mindful about this in the future.

      8 votes
    4. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Incredible answer, monarda. You're absolutely right that this is commonplace. Reading through your comment helped me realize that I do this with my dog, and my dog is not only awesome but...

      Incredible answer, monarda. You're absolutely right that this is commonplace. Reading through your comment helped me realize that I do this with my dog, and my dog is not only awesome but incredibly well behaved. I've used the exact same line you used about your son -- "you should see him at home" -- about my dog when, in fact, he never acts up at home! I'm not just not accepting a compliment but flat out lying in order to dodge it! Why?! For some reason it's just sort of the default to counterbalance a compliment instead of accepting it, even though that's incredibly damaging.

      I think your comment has prompted quality self-reflection for not just me, but many others here as well. Thank you for writing it!

      8 votes
    5. [3]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      My parents said something similar in front of me once. I still remember it in detail over a decade later. It hurts.

      My parents said something similar in front of me once. I still remember it in detail over a decade later. It hurts.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        culturedleftfoot
        Link Parent
        I always try to be especially conscious of what I say to children now. I've interviewed a number of people about their lives, and it's crazy when you realize how many of us are carrying around...

        I always try to be especially conscious of what I say to children now. I've interviewed a number of people about their lives, and it's crazy when you realize how many of us are carrying around baggage from a joke by someone whose approval we wanted, or an offhand comment by someone in authority, made 30, 40, 50 years ago.

        9 votes
        1. teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          The worst part is it can only prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I thought I was a crummy person and so I behaved as one, considering myself a lost cause. Granted, there were other issues at...

          The worst part is it can only prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I thought I was a crummy person and so I behaved as one, considering myself a lost cause. Granted, there were other issues at play. I had no idea I have OCD (and related anxiety issues) until fairly recently. I have to wonder how my parents could see my behavior and not have thought I should see a therapist.

          6 votes
  2. [15]
    Douglas
    Link
    Consuming alcohol. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but every touted health benefit it offers still seems to be off-balanced by the fact that it's still technically a poison that is inherently bad...

    Consuming alcohol.

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but every touted health benefit it offers still seems to be off-balanced by the fact that it's still technically a poison that is inherently bad for you, and the benefits can be gotten elsewhere through non-poisonous means.

    My wife has gone sober recently and I was never much of a drinker myself so I'm just abstaining so it'll be easier for her, but if you've never paid attention to how much alcohol consumption is in every single movie and TV show (Marvel, thriller movies, comedies, etc.), the characters always, whenever going through a hard time, turn to alcohol and sometimes laugh off or joke about how much they're having.

    And don't get me wrong-- I'm not anti-alcohol, but somewhere down the line it seems forgotten that:

    A) Alcohol is not a sustainable/healthy way to deal with emotions and hard times
    B) Alcohol is not the only way to deal with emotions and hard times
    C) Frequently drinking a lot of alcohol is not healthy/shouldn't be glamorized (see Iron Man)

    It seems hard to find a movie or TV show wherein the protagonist never drinks and them not drinking is not the focus of the story.

    36 votes
    1. Icarus
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I have been alcohol-sober for nearly 4 years now, and my partner is working on her sobriety as well. Alcohol has for sure played more of a negative impact in our lives than a positive. Some things...

      I have been alcohol-sober for nearly 4 years now, and my partner is working on her sobriety as well. Alcohol has for sure played more of a negative impact in our lives than a positive. Some things I noticed about alcohol:

      • Its much more acceptable to brag about using it than say, marijuana
      • It considerably lowers my mood for days after drinking
      • People use it as a crutch to get through difficult times, making it harder for them to accept hardships and be productive in overcoming them.

      It really does suck trying to help someone who is in recovery maintain their sobriety when so much of society stigmatizes sobriety. I find as an adult that people straight up will not socialize with me after work, unless its at a bar. And being sober as an adult can be incredibly lonely sometimes as a result.

      Edit: I just want to add, that other people's recoveries are different. For me, I sobered up after taking LSD. It seemed like it removed my desire to drink. I still get cravings, almost like a thirst on a hot day for a Blue Moon with an orange wedge, and as long I don't drink, I won't reinforce those neural pathways. My partner on the other hand used alcohol as a coping mechanism. She saw her parents do it, and now she has to unlearn that behavior. Its caused her so much embarrassment and straight up harm, yet she still has extremely strong cravings. She is in a good stretch right now after doing the Sinclair method, but the road to recovery is incredibly difficult for her compared to me. We all handle out substances differently, but realize that when alcohol harms, it harms BAD. And it harms parents, kids, co-workers, and everyone in the immediate sphere of that person.

      16 votes
    2. [2]
      skybrian
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I think that could easily be considered an example of "things everyone knows are harmful but they do them anyway." They might still underestimate the risks, though.

      I think that could easily be considered an example of "things everyone knows are harmful but they do them anyway." They might still underestimate the risks, though.

      12 votes
      1. Douglas
        Link Parent
        Oh I totally underestimated its risks myself; I had no idea there was such a strong relationship between alcohol consumption and heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, etc. I'd have thought...

        Oh I totally underestimated its risks myself; I had no idea there was such a strong relationship between alcohol consumption and heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, etc. I'd have thought something so strongly correlated would've been advertised to me much like the warnings on cigarettes. That and I just didn't think something so provably unhealthy would be as ubiquitous as it is.

        I suppose I was just very naive in that regard.

        7 votes
    3. [7]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      I’m not a drinker myself, and I agree with your points. In the Freakonomics podcast about marijuana Steven Levitt argues that while alcohol is bad for your health and pose many risks, the habit of...

      I’m not a drinker myself, and I agree with your points.

      In the Freakonomics podcast about marijuana Steven Levitt argues that while alcohol is bad for your health and pose many risks, the habit of drinking is extremely advantageous for networking and overall socialization.

      11 votes
      1. [5]
        Douglas
        Link Parent
        Yeah fortunately for us there's a lot of non-alcoholic beers to choose from in our area, so when we're out at a gathering we just bring our own. If we're at a bar I'll just get a 7-up (Coke keeps...

        Yeah fortunately for us there's a lot of non-alcoholic beers to choose from in our area, so when we're out at a gathering we just bring our own. If we're at a bar I'll just get a 7-up (Coke keeps me up at night; we're a very square couple). There is some fear of judgement and people do comment it on it sometimes, but I just tell myself the people who let something like not drinking prevent them from indulging in a friendship aren't the people I'd want to be friends with anyway, or they'd be open to a conversation about it if they were to start one. I don't do much networking otherwise outside of board games, and those are the square types of people who don't notice I don't drink.

        5 votes
        1. kfwyre
          Link Parent
          I was a teetotaler for years, including all of college (I know that's hard to believe, but it's the honest truth). I quickly got tired of pushy people trying to pressure/force me to drink when I...

          I was a teetotaler for years, including all of college (I know that's hard to believe, but it's the honest truth). I quickly got tired of pushy people trying to pressure/force me to drink when I didn't want to, as well as judgy people who would dismiss me socially if they found out I wasn't drinking.

          I quickly learned the utility of the benign lie. I would tell people that I was driving (which was sometimes true but not always), or that, while I'd love to drink, I can't have alcohol on account of a medication I was taking (which was not true). Both of those were polite fibs that I would use to defuse social situations and easily route around the types of people who try to make alcohol consumption an imperative.

          6 votes
        2. [3]
          mrbig
          Link Parent
          It’s not just about being there with a drink in your hand, but alcohol itself might make you more extroverted, funny, and charming. It really is a social lubricant. And drinkers tend to feel more...

          It’s not just about being there with a drink in your hand, but alcohol itself might make you more extroverted, funny, and charming. It really is a social lubricant. And drinkers tend to feel more in sync with those that are equally inebriated, that’s kinda inevitable since they are under similar effects.

          I honestly don’t care enough to pretend I’m drinking, someone that can’t respect my personal choices is not someone I wanna be around anyway. But it’s plausible that non drinkers will lose some opportunities because of that.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            Douglas
            Link Parent
            Oh man, I hadn't thought about that part... the one time I ever got super, black-out drunk and didn't recall the night before, I'd asked my friends the next day if I did anything embarrassing and...

            Oh man, I hadn't thought about that part... the one time I ever got super, black-out drunk and didn't recall the night before, I'd asked my friends the next day if I did anything embarrassing and the response was the worst thing I remember hearing at the time. It was something like "Oh man, you were fucking awesome last night, the coolest I've ever seen!"

            And I remember just thinking "What the hell did I do!? Why aren't I cool all the time!?"

            8 votes
            1. mrbig
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              You can learn to transfer some of your drunk personality to your normal one. I drank heavily for many years so I know how drunk people think — all kinds. Walked among people I just now realize...

              You can learn to transfer some of your drunk personality to your normal one. I drank heavily for many years so I know how drunk people think — all kinds. Walked among people I just now realize where actually totally alcoholics. I’m like the perfect nurse/therapist for drunkards hahaha. An specialist in drunk psychology. They love me!

              But it’s not nearly as fun as being drunk too! :P

              4 votes
      2. FishFingus
        Link Parent
        Having heard some stories from a mate in the armed forces, I have to pity any teetotallers and light drinkers who join up. Their livers are going to be screaming at them.

        Having heard some stories from a mate in the armed forces, I have to pity any teetotallers and light drinkers who join up. Their livers are going to be screaming at them.

        4 votes
    4. [3]
      nothis
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I don't think anyone ever took the "health benefits" seriously and the people who do, are probably not in danger. It's a socially (and politically!) accepted drug, that's what it is. It helps to...

      I don't think anyone ever took the "health benefits" seriously and the people who do, are probably not in danger. It's a socially (and politically!) accepted drug, that's what it is. It helps to smooth over social situations and loosen up in awkward situations, which is enormously useful in many, many cases. Some pretty vital business deals and some of my favorite love life moments happened with a drink in my hand and I don't regret them. That being said, there's enough drunk moments I do regret and I see the dangers of slipping into alcoholism (and experienced them pretty close).

      I guess pop culture just reflects this and I don't see it glamorizing it any more than real life interactions. I gotta say, though, it never occurred to me use alcohol to "get over difficult situations", so maybe that angle is lost on me.

      10 votes
      1. [2]
        Gub
        Link Parent
        You have a good point about positive things happening while drinking. It's easy to use those as justification, but I consider them poor choices with good outcomes. I remember throwing back a shot...

        You have a good point about positive things happening while drinking. It's easy to use those as justification, but I consider them poor choices with good outcomes. I remember throwing back a shot of whiskey a minute before my date knocked on my door. While that situation ended positively, my choice was out of fear - the fear of awkwardness, rejection, etc. With social situations like you describe, I ask myself whether I could have got to the same end point without alcohol.

        6 votes
        1. nothis
          Link Parent
          I feel dirty defending alcohol as a social coping mechanism, it's certainly not good. But I guess it's probably realistic. Unlike, say, smoking, which does not significantly change your mood but...

          I feel dirty defending alcohol as a social coping mechanism, it's certainly not good. But I guess it's probably realistic. Unlike, say, smoking, which does not significantly change your mood but causes lung cancer or heroin, which is powerful enough to completely forego social interactions entirely, alcohol has a purpose.

          For example, I know common "party" situations are hard for me to ever feel comfortable in because a combination of meeting new people, sitting in a circle in which all your words are heard and made fun of and an expectation to let loose, dance and make stupid jokes is not something I can do sober. It feels awful to say out loud, but it's true. And it's probably true for many. For this reason alone, I can definitely judge the net impact of alcohol on my life as positive. And that includes quite negative experiences.

          The one line I draw is drunk driving (or other acts in which you endanger others). I have zero understanding for it. I know that it's a matter of exactly the kind of poor judgement alcohol enables, so this might be hypocritical. But I've seen people (especially living in rather remote places where a car is the only way to be mobile) defend it when sober and it kinda drives me mad.

          8 votes
    5. babypuncher
      Link Parent
      Isn't Tony Stark's alcohol dependence pretty explicitly made out to be an obstacle his character has to overcome? It didn't seem very "glamorized" to me.

      C) Frequently drinking a lot of alcohol is not healthy/shouldn't be glamorized (see Iron Man)

      Isn't Tony Stark's alcohol dependence pretty explicitly made out to be an obstacle his character has to overcome? It didn't seem very "glamorized" to me.

      3 votes
  3. [51]
    chas
    Link
    Discussing "race" instead of racism, which lends validity to the idea that "races" are based on science. The zeitgeist today is full of this. For example, I saw a link the other day discussing a...

    Discussing "race" instead of racism, which lends validity to the idea that "races" are based on science. The zeitgeist today is full of this. For example, I saw a link the other day discussing a survey on "interracial marriage" - a type of marriage which does not actually exist. Not many people deeply understand that the groups of "races" they believe in are arbitrary, and our culture incessantly bombards us with messages that perpetuate that error.

    27 votes
    1. Akir
      Link Parent
      This is one of many category errors that are extremely common (and, of course, highly problematic) in popular discourse. Another related issue is how people talk about movements as if they are...

      This is one of many category errors that are extremely common (and, of course, highly problematic) in popular discourse.

      Another related issue is how people talk about movements as if they are concrete groups. Antifa is a pretty common one, but perhaps a more relavant one to this conversation is Black Lives Matter. Sure, there are a number of organizations named that, but they aren't "BLM". BLM is the actions people perform under that banner. It's not made up of professional politicos, it's everyday people like you and me (hopefully including you and me).

      The reason why these category errors are a huge problem is that it allows people to take individual examples and use them as a projection across an entire category. Did a BLM protester yell out "Kill all the police?" That must mean that all the people under BLM must want to kill the police. A Nazi got punched by a liberal? Then all liberals must be violent and intolerant!

      10 votes
    2. [12]
      tempestoftruth
      Link Parent
      What about the word "race" as it refers to socially constructed categories as opposed to "natural" or "scientific" ones? Can you not study the different "races," in the sense that you can study...

      What about the word "race" as it refers to socially constructed categories as opposed to "natural" or "scientific" ones? Can you not study the different "races," in the sense that you can study the social and historical processes that have led to their creation and propagation?

      9 votes
      1. [11]
        chas
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I don't really know, to be honest :) I have an analogy, though, which I use to think about these issues: Let's say you're in charge of a primary school. The school has a problem: the kids have...

        I don't really know, to be honest :)

        I have an analogy, though, which I use to think about these issues:

        Let's say you're in charge of a primary school. The school has a problem: the kids have singled out some of their classmates (maybe the ones who have freckles or something) and started to taunt them. They dub these freckled kids "weirdos," whereas they call themselves the "normals". Life becomes hell for the taunted kids; they get beaten at recess, spat upon, etc.

        As the principal, when you sit down with the class to discuss the issue, would you also refer to the kids as "normals" and "weirdos"?

        I think the correct way to address the issue would be to try to do away with the perception that the kids have real differences.

        1 vote
        1. [10]
          culturedleftfoot
          Link Parent
          The strength of that analogy depends on what exactly the perceived difference is. Your last line potentially sounds like teaching the kids to be 'colorblind' in the way that many well-meaning...

          The strength of that analogy depends on what exactly the perceived difference is. Your last line potentially sounds like teaching the kids to be 'colorblind' in the way that many well-meaning Americans will sweetly say they don't see color, which is essentially an attempt to reduce the situation to something within their comfort zone and does not promote understanding of the othered. The solution should actually be to recognize, respect, and value the differences rather than ignore them.

          6 votes
          1. [9]
            chas
            Link Parent
            That sounds fine until I ask myself what differences we are actually discussing. Then it stops sounding fine, because it's dumb. Eg: "The solution should actually be to recognize, respect, and...

            The solution should actually be to recognize, respect, and value the differences rather than ignore them.

            That sounds fine until I ask myself what differences we are actually discussing. Then it stops sounding fine, because it's dumb. Eg: "The solution should actually be to recognize, respect, and value the different curliness of hair rather than ignore it." Give me a break!

            If your approach is the correct one, would it not stand to reason that classifying "blondes" and "brunettes" as two "races" of people would be a benefit? I find the whole approach dubious, to say the least.

            4 votes
            1. [8]
              culturedleftfoot
              Link Parent
              See the first sentence of my previous post. What exactly is ridiculous about it? Classifying them as races or not only matters as much as use of language contributes to the actual discrimination,...

              That sounds fine until I ask myself what differences we are actually discussing.

              See the first sentence of my previous post.

              "The solution should actually be to recognize, respect, and value the different curliness of hair rather than ignore it." Give me a break!

              What exactly is ridiculous about it?

              Classifying them as races or not only matters as much as use of language contributes to the actual discrimination, which I thought was already given as fact in your example. I guess the crux of this is what constitutes a "real" difference to you. Race is often (mis)used as a social shorthand for an intersection of ethnicity and culture; maybe I think the assumption as scientific fact is less widespread than you.

              2 votes
              1. [7]
                chas
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                That I can't, for the life of me, imagine anyone giving any importance at all to the curly hair of a "white" person. To some extent, what I have a problem with is purely the language we use. For...

                What exactly is ridiculous about it?

                That I can't, for the life of me, imagine anyone giving any importance at all to the curly hair of a "white" person.

                Classifying them as races or not only matters as much as use of language contributes to the actual discrimination, which I thought was already given as fact in your example.

                To some extent, what I have a problem with is purely the language we use. For example, I don't have a problem with the term "racialized people" since it acknowledges our racist environment, without tacitly subscribing to it.

                The other side I think is toxic is essentialism. For example, I think Americans are way too comfortable with the existence of segregated neighborhoods. If we were truly enlightened, America would still have subcultures, but they wouldn't be subcultures based on "race."

                The culture thing is such a can of worms, but in general, I think it's healthier to avoid coupling a "race" in the biological sense, with habits and beliefs widely associated with that group. Everyone knows, for example, that Classical Music originated in Europe, but I'm very glad indeed that we don't refer to it as "White Music."

                1 vote
                1. [6]
                  culturedleftfoot
                  Link Parent
                  It sounds like you are operating on unexamined assumptions. Because you are thinking from your current perspective, where you have already been exposed to a variety of people of different hair...

                  It sounds like you are operating on unexamined assumptions.

                  That I can't, for the life of me, imagine anyone giving any importance at all to the curly hair of a "white" person.

                  Because you are thinking from your current perspective, where you have already been exposed to a variety of people of different hair types. In your hypothetical (or even in various places at various times in history), any phenotype may be used as a marker against which a minority could be discriminated, even if it's something as arbitrary as straight or curly hair, if the majority has not been exposed to any alternative or variety. Do you not think it likely that a naturally curly-haired person would stand out and be discriminated against in Japan or China 1000 years ago? 100? Hell, today?

                  For example, I don't have a problem with the term "racialized people" since it acknowledges our racist environment, without tacitly subscribing to it.

                  Who exactly are racialized people? Sounds a lot like "ethnic" to me, i.e. non-white, and if that's true the obvious follow-up would be, why aren't white people racialized?

                  3 votes
                  1. [5]
                    chas
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    We're talking at cross-purposes here. Somehow, against my efforts, I gave you the impression that I don't think prejudice based on physical attributes is rampant or important. Nothing could be any...

                    Because you are thinking from your current perspective...

                    We're talking at cross-purposes here. Somehow, against my efforts, I gave you the impression that I don't think prejudice based on physical attributes is rampant or important. Nothing could be any further from my view. My intended point is pretty banal: that a person's physical attributes (such as hair-curliness or eye-shape) are an accident of birth, that would tell you next-to-nothing about a person's character if it were not for the special treatment that person faces at the hands of people too ignorant to know better.

                    Ideally, a person's physical attributes should be of little importance. In the real world, we have to push back against racists who do give them importance.

                    Who exactly are racialized people? Sounds a lot like "ethnic" to me, i.e. non-white, and if that's true the obvious follow-up would be, why aren't white people racialized?

                    I don't think "racialized" is a perfect word, because I share your objection (ie: aren't "white" people racialized people, too?) That said, it is the best term I've heard, to date.

                    A few hundred years back, a bunch of imperialists came up with arbitrary, inaccurate, and self-serving categories: "black", "white", "red" and "yellow" people. Aside from all else, those categories are just plain dumb. If everyone in my town were to call people the n-word, does that mean I have to, also? I don't want to use the racist terminology developed by a bunch of dead hicks.

                    I will happily refer to skin tone, nose shape, eye-color, etc. I will happily refer to "people racialized as black." I will happily refer to a group of participants in a local culture associated with a "race." I just don't feel good carrying on a false, toxic narrative where we're all grouped into distinct "races" and pretend I believe there are naturally-ordained, neatly-divided "black" and "white" peoples.

                    1. [4]
                      culturedleftfoot
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      I understood what you were getting at, for the most part. I was trying to get you to follow your own analogy to get to some underlying issues, but it looks like that didn't go well. Perhaps you...

                      I understood what you were getting at, for the most part. I was trying to get you to follow your own analogy to get to some underlying issues, but it looks like that didn't go well.

                      Ideally, a person's physical attributes should be of little importance. In the real world, we have to push back against racists who do give them importance.

                      Perhaps you should watch a relevant video that I posted not too long ago in another discussion, and maybe then my first post may ring differently. It is quite possible, and indeed worth aiming for, to recognize everyone's inherent humanity while valuing our differences.

                      1 vote
                      1. [3]
                        chas
                        (edited )
                        Link Parent
                        Did you misinterpret my argument as being "I don't see color"? I addressed this elsewhere in this thread. I am perfectly able to identify "race" (as Americans categorize it, at least, and...

                        Did you misinterpret my argument as being "I don't see color"? I addressed this elsewhere in this thread.

                        I am perfectly able to identify "race" (as Americans categorize it, at least, and providing the "race" isn't so-called "ambiguous"), and painfully aware that I have many involuntary racist biases thanks to the culture in which I grew up.

                        I am also aware, and this is largely my point, that the "racial" categories our culture taught us, are completely arbitrary. It's only a quirk of fate that blonde "white people" and brunette "white people" are "the same race." It's a quirk of fate that "arabs" and "whites" are "two races" (come to think of it, according to the US census they are "one race"). So, I certainly "see race" but the particular "races" as which I perceive people, were arbitrarily arrived upon.

                        If it weren't for history, by the way, I wouldn't have a problem using nouns such as "black" and "white," inaccurate and arbitrary as they may be. Maybe in an alternate universe, Americans came to think of skin-tone they way they think of hair color. The trouble is that, here in our universe, they evoke the idea of separate "peoples" in a manner that "blonde people" and "red-headed people" do not.

                        1. [2]
                          culturedleftfoot
                          Link Parent
                          No, the video was addressing the bit I quoted, with emphasis on the difference between importance and value, and also the fact that race isn't solely important to racists. I haven't really gotten...

                          No, the video was addressing the bit I quoted, with emphasis on the difference between importance and value, and also the fact that race isn't solely important to racists. I haven't really gotten into your objection to the word race itself because I think it's more or less semantics. What it's understood to mean is context-dependent, and the only people who think of races as some serious science are supremacists of one flavor or another. Forgetting the idea of races without understanding the underlying human tendency for discrimination will simply shift prejudice to some other factor, around which some other arbitrary construct will likely emerge... like hair straightness, for example.

                          2 votes
                          1. chas
                            (edited )
                            Link Parent
                            Sure, but there's no point in us debating whether people should be tolerant of differences, because that doesn't seem to be an area upon which we disagree. My beef is with the concept that there...

                            Sure, but there's no point in us debating whether people should be tolerant of differences, because that doesn't seem to be an area upon which we disagree.

                            My beef is with the concept that there are separate "races of people", which I think (a) is false, and (b) exacerbates prejudice.

                            If I somehow argued that doing away with the concept of "race" will entirely eliminate prejudice, I misspoke. I think it would help though.

    3. [4]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      I'm just now catching up on this thread and reading your posts and conversations with others, and I think I understand where you're coming from and why some people are pushing back on that. I,...

      I'm just now catching up on this thread and reading your posts and conversations with others, and I think I understand where you're coming from and why some people are pushing back on that. I, coincidentally enough, started reading Ibram X. Kendi's How to Be an Antiracist this weekend. He speaks directly to this idea that race, like you've identified, is a meaningless categorization based in prejudice but also a simultaneously meaningful one on account of that:

      But for all of that life-shaping power, race is a mirage, which doesn’t lessen its force. We are what we see ourselves as, whether what we see exists or not. We are what people see us as, whether what they see exists or not. What people see in themselves and others has meaning and manifests itself in ideas and actions and policies, even if what they are seeing is an illusion. Race is a mirage but one that we do well to see, while never forgetting it is a mirage, never forgetting that it’s the powerful light of racist power that makes the mirage.

      He later speaks to the need to identify race as a meaningful part of deconstructing racism:

      Assimilationists believe in the post-racial myth that talking about race constitutes racism, or that if we stop identifying by race, then racism will miraculously go away. They fail to realize that if we stop using racial categories, then we will not be able to identify racial inequity. If we cannot identify racial inequity, then we will not be able to identify racist policies. If we cannot identify racist policies, then we cannot challenge racist policies. If we cannot challenge racist policies, then racist power’s final solution will be achieved: a world of inequity none of us can see, let alone resist. Terminating racial categories is potentially the last, not the first, step in the antiracist struggle.

      I share these here because I found them relevant to the ongoing conversations you and others have had here.

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        chas
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I wrote so much yesterday in this thread, and I'm not thrilled with some of it. I could have been a bit less dismissive in my replies to people. Thanks for those quotes. They're definitely...

        I wrote so much yesterday in this thread, and I'm not thrilled with some of it. I could have been a bit less dismissive in my replies to people.

        Thanks for those quotes. They're definitely relevant. I want to address the author's quote...

        Assimilationists believe in the post-racial myth that talking about race constitutes racism, or that if we stop identifying by race, then racism will miraculously go away.

        I wouldn't really call myself an assimilationist, because I am onboard with retaining cultures which we all currently (albeit reductively) associate with particular "racial" groups. I say "reductively" because even in our racist society, it's reductive to call golf a "white" sport, or rap music a "black" music.

        To my ear, I associate "Assimilationists" with people who argue "why can't those people just pull up their saggy pants, and act like we do?" I don't want everyone to act the same, but I do think it's healthier for subcultures not explicitly to expect or require participants to be of a particular "racial" group.

        In other words, to pick an example, it's great if a "Brooklyn culture" contains a lot of traditionally Jewish quirks and habits, but it wouldn't be so great if people believed you're not a real Brooklynite unless you have Jewish heritage.


        Anyways, back to the Ibram X quote, I think there are two instances of subtle straw-manning going on in it:

        The first is an oversimplification of what it means to "stop identifying by race." It is not necessary for a victim of body-shaming, for example, to parrot their abuser's language. It is entirely possible to discuss fat-shaming, without considering oneself, or referring to oneself as, a "fatso."

        Instead, as I touched on elsewhere in this thread, it is possible to substitute racial categories with one, or multiple, objective equivalents. There are indeed alternative classifications. For instance, I don't consider "ADOS" a racist epithet. To state that a person is part of a "white race" is up for debate, but to state that one's fore-bearers were slaves is a plain statement of fact.


        The second straw-man is the characterization "miraculously go away." It is not my position that if we abandon racial categories, prejudice would vanish. What I do think is that it would decrease. I used the example earlier of some categories of American immigrants, last century, suddenly becoming "white".

        When I was a kid, I witnessed my entire primary school suddenly become racist toward Poles. Why? Because my youth coincided with the peak of a "Polish joke" craze in pop culture. Prior to that trend, I guarantee you none of the little kids around me knew what a Pole (or "Polack", a TV-friendly slur back then, if you can believe it) even was. They had no reason to notice.

        Given an outgroup and an opportunity to scapegoat it, the majority has always been eager to oblige.


        We should always encourage people to accept differences, because there will always be differences between people. Tolerance of a difference is less potent, though, than an environment in which people do not even consider that difference to be noteworthy. We already have done so with hair color, eye color, and several light shades of skin.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          kfwyre
          Link Parent
          I think I better see where you're coming from. Thank you for your patience. I'm actually reminded of another quote, this time from Audre Lorde: "The master's tools will never dismantle the...

          I think I better see where you're coming from. Thank you for your patience. I'm actually reminded of another quote, this time from Audre Lorde: "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house". If I'm understanding you correctly (and please let me know if I'm not!), you see race as an illusory categorization born of prejudice, so acknowledging and operating under that framework cannot escape being fundamentally discriminatory.

          I'm partially on board with that, but I think I differ on a key aspect of interpretation. It sounds like you see categorization itself is an impetus for prejudice, so it follows that reducing categorization would therefore reduce prejudice (again, please let me know if I'm off in interpreting your comments this way). I definitely think there's some merit to that. I do think, however, that the cause and effect are often switched: prejudice often informs categorization. More simply: someone who is driven by hatred/animus will find a way to categorize those they don't like as a means of dehumanizing them. I think this is why we see shifting definitions of whiteness over time, for example.

          To me, the solution isn't to remove categorizations or identities but instead to remove the hierarchies and dominant relationships into which they are put. I'm fine with people having racial identities and categorizations provided those categorizations aren't placed in a framework where one is considered superior/inferior to another.

          3 votes
          1. chas
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            That's an excellent way to put it. There's a great deal of truth to that, but I don't think they're mutually exclusive. It can be both true that dancing causes happiness, and also that happiness...

            If I'm understanding you correctly (and please let me know if I'm not!), you see race as an illusory categorization born of prejudice, so acknowledging and operating under that framework cannot escape being fundamentally discriminatory.

            That's an excellent way to put it.

            the cause and effect are often switched: prejudice often informs categorization.

            There's a great deal of truth to that, but I don't think they're mutually exclusive. It can be both true that dancing causes happiness, and also that happiness causes people to feel like dancing.

            I'm fine with people having racial identities and categorizations provided those categorizations aren't placed in a framework where one is considered superior/inferior to another.

            My stumbling block with that is, entirely aside from whether the concept of distinct "races" benefits or harms society, I will never be able to believe it's a division based on reality. That's been my worldview for so many years now, that I find phrases like "interracial relationship" or "biracial woman" and so on, creepy and jarring. Basically, it's like I've "got religion" on this worldview, and like any zealot, I can't help wanting the rest of the world to come to the light ;)

            3 votes
    4. [33]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      I think sometimes couples from families with different cultures might have trouble bridging them, though, and people do make unfortunate judgements based on appearances? It should be possible to...

      I think sometimes couples from families with different cultures might have trouble bridging them, though, and people do make unfortunate judgements based on appearances? It should be possible to talk about such things.

      I think it's useful to look for better ways to use words and avoid their unfortunate connotations, while forgiving imprecise or unfortunate usage. Conversations should attempt to clarify.

      5 votes
      1. [32]
        chas
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        It should indeed, and you just did so in a manner that doesn't essentialize anybody. It's fine to talk about culture. With only a couple exceptions, it's racist to assume that all people you...

        It should be possible to talk about such things.

        It should indeed, and you just did so in a manner that doesn't essentialize anybody. It's fine to talk about culture. With only a couple exceptions, it's racist to assume that all people you perceive as "black" participate in "black culture," or that only racialized people contribute to "black culture."

        The first exception is one you mention in your comment: the parts of "black culture" that involve first-hand prejudice as a perceived "black person."

        The other exception is the parts of "black culture" that involve biology: this might include skin care, or hair styles, for example.

        I think we should treat the concept of "races" as a relic of past times. It's fine to discuss biological differences, and cultural differences - which everyone on this planet has. What is harmful, if difficult to avoid given today's culture, is to conflate those two kinds of differences.

        PS: Not to be pedantic here, but what constitutes a particular "culture" is also subjective, and, interestingly, also a source of some of our world's ills.

        4 votes
        1. [31]
          skybrian
          Link Parent
          I think it's kind of bizarre to pretend that cultural categories that so often affect people don't exist. But if by "nonessential" you mean changeable then I agree that change is possible. It...

          I think it's kind of bizarre to pretend that cultural categories that so often affect people don't exist. But if by "nonessential" you mean changeable then I agree that change is possible. It isn't entirely an act of will (not of an individual, anyway), but if would be easier if people believed that change could happen and prepared for it.

          1 vote
          1. [30]
            chas
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I'm not claiming that everyone is the same. It's clearly true that people have genetic and cultural differences. The part that is false is the idea that there is one scientific way to determine...

            I'm not claiming that everyone is the same. It's clearly true that people have genetic and cultural differences. The part that is false is the idea that there is one scientific way to determine subgroups of these. It's surprising, for example, that we group white-haired Swedes into the same "white race" as black-haired Greeks: to an alien, the difference in appearance would be striking. On the cultural side, San Franciscans arguably share an "American Culture" with Alabamians, when they probably have more in common with Torontonians. All these groupings are in the eye of the beholder.

            I think it's kind of bizarre to pretend that cultural categories that so often affect people don't exist.

            Are you referring to my use of the word "essentialize"? If so, you do realize that's just a way of saying "stereotype people based their (supposed) race"? For example, if someone says "her sense of rhythm is bad for a black woman" they make the essentialist implication that some "races" are born with special rhythmic abilities, and so on. When one thinks in terms of "races" of people, it's easier to imagine many more differences than there are in reality.

            6 votes
            1. [29]
              skybrian
              Link Parent
              Completely agree about the vagueness and arbitrariness, and I accept your definition of "essentialize." But I was referring back to the part about interracial marriages not actually existing. It...

              Completely agree about the vagueness and arbitrariness, and I accept your definition of "essentialize."

              But I was referring back to the part about interracial marriages not actually existing. It seems like an abuse of language? I would rather say interracial marriages are common and a survey could show that, even though it can't be defined precisely without being arbitrary, and any definition other than letting the couple decide for themselves whether it's true is going to run into problems.

              As a society we've dealt with this by deciding to just to let people check whatever box they want, or decline to state, which solves the problem as a matter of data collection as long as people go along with it, and results in trouble when there's something at stake and people claim identities that others don't think they should.

              4 votes
              1. [21]
                chas
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                That is beyond disgusting to me! A government, of all entities, should be the absolute last party to propagate the idea of "races." There. is. no. such. thing. It would be possible to avoid it....

                just to let people check whatever box they want, or decline to state, which solves the problem as a matter of data collection

                That is beyond disgusting to me! A government, of all entities, should be the absolute last party to propagate the idea of "races." There. is. no. such. thing.

                It would be possible to avoid it. Just spit-balling... People have different skin tones, eye shape, etc. The government could allow people to mark down Pantone shades for hair/skin/eyes, if they want. At least that's objective. Or the government could ask people to mention if other people have racialized them as a certain "race" - that's the correct emphasis. Not to mention, it's more sensible... people often discriminate based on appearances, not actual genetic makeup. If a racist thinks you're "Asian"... you're effectively "Asian", in most contexts. Or in cases where there are relevant historical factors (slavery, genocide), the government could ask about them.

                For a government to just keep using racial categories, like they're scientific and no big deal, is an insult to science.

                1 vote
                1. [2]
                  skybrian
                  Link Parent
                  In the US, data collection of this sort is always optional and it's used to guard against discrimination. You can't know whether there's a problem with discriminatory practices in housing,...

                  In the US, data collection of this sort is always optional and it's used to guard against discrimination. You can't know whether there's a problem with discriminatory practices in housing, employment, and so on, if you don't look.

                  8 votes
                  1. chas
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    The question "do fitness freaks call you lard-ass?" is very different than "are you a lard-ass?" The US government's positioning is currently more like the latter. This goes back to my original...

                    The question "do fitness freaks call you lard-ass?" is very different than "are you a lard-ass?" The US government's positioning is currently more like the latter.

                    You can't know whether there's a problem with discriminatory practices in housing, employment, and so on, if you don't look.

                    This goes back to my original post. By all means, the government can look, but it should find a way to do so that does not use the same ideological framework as the racist landlords and employers. That's gross.

                2. [17]
                  NaraVara
                  Link Parent
                  Maybe not biologically, but it’s an important part of many people’s lived realities. Asserting that race “isn’t real” is actually a problematic and counterproductive way of trying to combat racism.

                  There. Is. No. Such. Thing

                  Maybe not biologically, but it’s an important part of many people’s lived realities. Asserting that race “isn’t real” is actually a problematic and counterproductive way of trying to combat racism.

                  8 votes
                  1. [9]
                    chas
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    If your impression of my comments here is "I am colorblind. I see people, not color" than I have failed to communicate in spectacular fashion. The "I am colorblind..." statement is like someone...

                    If your impression of my comments here is "I am colorblind. I see people, not color" than I have failed to communicate in spectacular fashion. The "I am colorblind..." statement is like someone staring at a television and claiming "I see only pixels, not a news announcer." Just because there is not really a little man inside the box does not mean we are blind to the illusion.

                    You're conflating two positions: (1) the kind of delusional presentism that leads to statements like "we're living in post racial America!" and (2) understanding that "racial" categories are arbitrary and lead to discrimination and persecution.

                    My position is the second. I have heard arguments against it, but faced with world history, those arguments do not fare very well. You are not, by a long shot, the only person to disagree with me; I posted all this in response to "What is something that most people don't realize is harmful?" :)

                    2 votes
                    1. [8]
                      NaraVara
                      Link Parent
                      The thing is, many of the categories we put down are arbitrary. We can even argue that gender and sexuality categories are somewhat arbitrary. But that doesn’t change the status of women or LGBT...

                      understanding that "racial" categories are arbitrary and lead to discrimination and persecution.

                      The thing is, many of the categories we put down are arbitrary. We can even argue that gender and sexuality categories are somewhat arbitrary. But that doesn’t change the status of women or LGBT people. Most of society is held together by constructed identities like this. Society itself is basically just a shared exercise in collectively constructing reality/meaning.

                      And since we all have subcultures and micro-communities we’re going to have differences in how our identities get constructed. Society is naturally going to have some kind of social cleavages in it. If it’s not race it’s ethnicity or language or caste or something else. That’s the price of diversity. Whether they lead to discrimination or persecution comes down to people’s willingness to tolerate and accept differences, not whether they are blinded to those differences.

                      The creation of the racial identities may be a direct result of White supremacy, but all identities are historically path dependent in some way. That’s just the karma we’ve inherited from our ancestors. We can’t really undo that it happened. It’s a part of us now. All we can do is grow into something else that is, hopefully, better.

                      As for delusional presentism, I don’t actually know of anyone who believes that sincerely. At this point it’s just motivated reasoning/rationalization from people who want to be racist. The White liberals, in my experience, have been pretty thoroughly disabused of this notion ever since Trayvon Martin’s murder. If there were any holdouts since then they’re converts now.

                      6 votes
                      1. [7]
                        chas
                        (edited )
                        Link Parent
                        I see this as support for my position, more than a counterargument. There was a time we all believed in luminiferous ether, and now we do not. I have zero doubt that the concept of "race", which...

                        Society itself is basically just a shared exercise in
                        collectively constructing reality/meaning.

                        I see this as support for my position, more than a counterargument. There was a time we all believed in luminiferous ether, and now we do not. I have zero doubt that the concept of "race", which is only 400 years old, will not survive another 200 years.

                        Society is naturally going to have some
                        kind of social cleavages in it.

                        Are all cleavages the same? Nope, they are not! I am fine with cleaving "racists" and "non-racists"

                        As for delusional presentism, I don’t actually know
                        of anyone who believes that sincerely.

                        Since it's neither of our position, it's moot.

                        We can’t really undo that it happened

                        With respect, this statement is ahistorical. Not long ago, Italian-Americans were not "white" and now they are.

                        1. [6]
                          NaraVara
                          Link Parent
                          Analogous concepts to race or nationality have been around basically forever. I don’t believe there’s ever been a society without distinctive groups and subgroups in it. If anything, nationalism...

                          There was a time we all believed in luminiferous ether, and now we do not. I have zero doubt that the concept of "race", which is only 400 years old, will not survive another 200 years.

                          Analogous concepts to race or nationality have been around basically forever. I don’t believe there’s ever been a society without distinctive groups and subgroups in it. If anything, nationalism has dramatically reduced the number of “races” out there by homogenizing people through mass media, beginning with the printing press. But that era is reversing. You can expect there to be more distinct subgroups and cultural communities in the future rather than fewer.

                          Are all cleavages the same? Nope, they are not! I am fine with cleaving "racists" and "non-racists"

                          That’s not what is meant by [social cleavage.](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleavage_(politics)

                          With respect, this statement is ahistorical. Not long ago, Italian-Americans were not "white" and now they are.

                          White isn’t a race. It’s a privileged position in which your race is not a bar to being respected. Italian Americans still self identify as “Italian American” and have a distinct cultural identity that they treasure. If Black people disappeared tomorrow you can bet our definition of White would adjust real quick to no longer qualify them as White. It’s a category that only expands to maintain just enough of a demographic bloc to make sure there remains a subservient race of people that it’s okay to degrade.

                          2 votes
                          1. [5]
                            chas
                            (edited )
                            Link Parent
                            I promise you if a new paradigm comes along to supplant "race", and is similarly arbitrary and noxious, I'll be here, arguing against it, too. In the USA, the two groups literally went to war back...

                            Analogous concepts to race or nationality have been around basically forever. I don’t believe there’s ever been a society without distinctive groups and subgroups in it.

                            I promise you if a new paradigm comes along to supplant "race", and is similarly arbitrary and noxious, I'll be here, arguing against it, too.

                            That’s not what is meant by [social cleavage.](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleavage_(politics)

                            In the USA, the two groups literally went to war back in 1861, but okay.

                            White isn’t a race.

                            But the others are? This strikes me as ideological piffle, to the point that I no longer want to debate this.

                            Edit: I'm sorry about the rudeness of my last sentence. In my defence, I didn't expect to get into such a long discussion about this, and I'm starting to find it all a bit exhausting :)

                            2 votes
                            1. [4]
                              NaraVara
                              Link Parent
                              So it’s worth wondering if you’re barking up the right tree with the idea that we’re all just one big human family. I’ll reiterate, most people of color (myself included) resent being told that...

                              promise you if a new paradigm comes along to supplant "race", and is similarly arbitrary and noxious, I'll be here, arguing against it, too.

                              So it’s worth wondering if you’re barking up the right tree with the idea that we’re all just one big human family. I’ll reiterate, most people of color (myself included) resent being told that the path to acceptance comes from erasing our pasts and our heritage.

                              In the USA, the two groups literally went to war back in 1861, but okay.

                              I don’t see how that’s relevant to the discussion.

                              But the others are? This strikes me as ideological piffle, to the point that I no longer want to debate this.

                              Yes. Census designation notwithstanding, Whiteness is a construct that’s explicitly meant to exclude. It’s used in the same way that civilizations in other times an places differentiated themselves from barbarian others.

                              1 vote
                              1. [3]
                                chas
                                Link Parent
                                I don't know where I suggested anyone do that. The kinds of changes I have been talking about are pretty subtle. Primarily they are about framing. I'm saying that some divisions are more...

                                most people of color (myself included) resent being told that the path to acceptance comes from erasing our pasts and our heritage.

                                I don't know where I suggested anyone do that. The kinds of changes I have been talking about are pretty subtle. Primarily they are about framing.

                                I don’t see how that’s relevant to the discussion.

                                I'm saying that some divisions are more acceptable than others. It disappoints me, for example, that America shows endless tolerance for racist bikers. If society is forever doomed to divide people into an elite and a downtrodden, I'd rather we subjugate bikers, than sort people by supposed "race."

                                Yes. Census designation notwithstanding, Whiteness is a construct that’s explicitly meant to exclude.

                                Since I think the concept of "race" is founded on bullshit anyways, it seems meaningless to debate what "whiteness" is.

                                1. [2]
                                  NaraVara
                                  Link Parent
                                  Yes. You’re framing people’s ancestries and closely held identities as something that needs to be erased. How would you go and tell Jewish people that their entire cultural identity is “founded on...

                                  The kinds of changes I have been talking about are pretty subtle. Primarily they are about framing.

                                  Yes. You’re framing people’s ancestries and closely held identities as something that needs to be erased. How would you go and tell Jewish people that their entire cultural identity is “founded on bullshit” and “meaningless?” Do you see how this framing is functionally just sweeping real differences under the rug to enforce conformity?

                                  I’ll be frank. Your tone and demeanor is being extremely whitesplainey right now.

                                  2 votes
                                  1. chas
                                    Link Parent
                                    At the end of the day, I doubt what either of us are typing here will change much about the world. Let's leave off here. Life is too short to argue on the internet with strangers. On a different...

                                    At the end of the day, I doubt what either of us are typing here will change much about the world. Let's leave off here. Life is too short to argue on the internet with strangers.

                                    On a different note, assuming we're in the same time zone, enjoy your evening! :)

                                    3 votes
                  2. [2]
                    Kuromantis
                    Link Parent
                    Huh. Perhaps we should frame it as a 'race is a product of racism' discussion? Given the relevance of race is clearest when you suffer from it when nothing else indicates you would, one could...

                    Huh. Perhaps we should frame it as a 'race is a product of racism' discussion? Given the relevance of race is clearest when you suffer from it when nothing else indicates you would, one could argue that race is a consequence/product of racism.

                    1. NaraVara
                      Link Parent
                      I don’t think that’s quite right either. There’s a gulf in understanding between people from distinct ethnic and cultural backgrounds that takes actual work to unpack and requires people to really...

                      I don’t think that’s quite right either. There’s a gulf in understanding between people from distinct ethnic and cultural backgrounds that takes actual work to unpack and requires people to really listen to each other. This would be true even in the absence of White supremacy, but White supremacy gives Whites the luxury of ignoring it in a way non-Whites lack the option to.

                      2 votes
                  3. [5]
                    Sand
                    Link Parent
                    Add an "in America" to your comment and your article becomes more credible.

                    Add an "in America" to your comment and your article becomes more credible.

                    1. [4]
                      NaraVara
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      Not much in that article is exclusive to America. America has challenges with racism because America is both extremely diverse and actually has to live in the bed it made instead of having done...

                      Not much in that article is exclusive to America. America has challenges with racism because America is both extremely diverse and actually has to live in the bed it made instead of having done all of its slavery and colonialism in other nations (only some of it). Many other countries brush these things under the rug because they aren’t confronted with the practical realities of living with others day-in-day-out and having a formal mythology around these groups as being full and equal members of the polity.

                      I think Canada has rights to be smug over us about this, but not many others. And Canada’s got plenty of work to do too.

                      4 votes
                      1. [3]
                        Sand
                        Link Parent
                        The article is literally talking about America and the article's points can only be applied to countries that have a prevalent concept of "whiteness." Which isn't how racism works in a lot of...

                        The article is literally talking about America and the article's points can only be applied to countries that have a prevalent concept of "whiteness." Which isn't how racism works in a lot of other countries.

                        Many other countries brush these things under the rug because they aren’t confronted with the practical realities of living with others day-in-day-out and having a formal mythology around these groups as being full and equal members of the polity.

                        If other countries aren't "confronted with the practical realities of living with others day-in-day-out" then they can't brush that thing under the rug, can they?

                        1. [2]
                          NaraVara
                          Link Parent
                          It doesn’t take very much imagination to find similar or analogous forms of discrimination in other countries. Sure they can. It just never rises to be a major political thing because there isn’t...

                          It doesn’t take very much imagination to find similar or analogous forms of discrimination in other countries.

                          If other countries aren't "confronted with the practical realities of living with others day-in-day-out" then they can't brush that thing under the rug, can they?

                          Sure they can. It just never rises to be a major political thing because there isn’t enough of it to cause demands for redress. But as soon as the situation changes, like with a refugee crisis from Syria, for example, beliefs about being bastions of tolerance start to fray real quick.

                          4 votes
                          1. Sand
                            Link Parent
                            Not similar or analogous enough that the article can actually be applied to other countries. Like being a refugee isn't some sort of arbitrary category you're born into. Not saying that other...

                            Not similar or analogous enough that the article can actually be applied to other countries. Like being a refugee isn't some sort of arbitrary category you're born into. Not saying that other countries are bastions of tolerance.

                            1 vote
                3. rosco
                  Link Parent
                  I think this is a great conversation you guys are having and an important one to dive into. I'm not trying to side track from the narrative and realize that this is a side point but just want to...

                  I think this is a great conversation you guys are having and an important one to dive into. I'm not trying to side track from the narrative and realize that this is a side point but just want to say the 'Pantone' idea sounds pretty similar to the 'Casta System' common is Spanish Colonial and Brazilian law from the 18th and 19th century.

                  I totally agree that race is arbitrary, unfortunately racists can ascribe positives and negatives to hair/skin/eyes as well.

                  3 votes
              2. [7]
                chas
                Link Parent
                If a fifth generation Armenian marries a fifth generation Pole, is that an "interracial marriage"? I'll save you the time: it is more "interracial" than two Armenians, and perhaps less...

                If a fifth generation Armenian marries a fifth generation Pole, is that an "interracial marriage"? I'll save you the time: it is more "interracial" than two Armenians, and perhaps less "interracial" than an Armenian and a Japanese.

                Why should anyone who knows better perpetuate this provincial nonsense?

                It seems like an abuse of language?

                I find it uncomfortable to pretend I believe that there are different "races" when I do not, and I don't see the benefit in pretending, when history shows the concept has led to harm.

                1. [6]
                  skybrian
                  Link Parent
                  For the purpose of learning about discriminatory practices in a particular country, it would make sense to define categories based on whatever the common cultural biases there are in that country...

                  For the purpose of learning about discriminatory practices in a particular country, it would make sense to define categories based on whatever the common cultural biases there are in that country that might cause problems for a couple. Maybe in Rwanda it's Hutu versus Tutsi, even though elsewhere it wouldn't be an issue.

                  If there isn't anything like that, well, I'd look harder. If there really isn't anything like that, congratulations, you win.

                  I'm reluctant to reinforce such biases, but when they are deeply embedded into culture, denial won't make them go away.

                  But maybe here's something we can agree on? It seems like spending time in another country, or at least learning about them, would be helpful in reinforcing that this is indeed culturally relative.

                  1 vote
                  1. [5]
                    chas
                    Link Parent
                    But isn't this example compelling support for my point? The government should bend over backwards to avoid reifying racial categories.

                    Hutu versus Tutsi

                    But isn't this example compelling support for my point? The government should bend over backwards to avoid reifying racial categories.

                    1 vote
                    1. [4]
                      skybrian
                      Link Parent
                      I think it supports the point that these categorizations are culture-specific, not that they don't exist. But as for what the government should do about it: government forms and surveys need to...

                      I think it supports the point that these categorizations are culture-specific, not that they don't exist. But as for what the government should do about it: government forms and surveys need to use simple words that most people understand. Typically, there is a common, polite way to refer to a race or ethnic group, if it's a well-known concept. If not, probably the government will invent a euphemism.

                      I guess you could word the form in a still more euphemistic way, like "what affiliations do other people consider you to have that someone might use to discriminate against you" but that might decrease understanding enough to change the results.

                      As for the existence of culturally-specific classifications of people: for some groups in some countries, you could probably use machine learning to recognize ethnicity from photos accurately enough for research - it seems to happen by accident easily enough. How would this be possible if such categories didn't exist in the minds of the public? I don't think the situation is that different from many other words we use with vague definitions. These categories are learned from examples.

                      Add to this the fact that many people are proud of their ethnicity and adopt cultural practices to make themselves more distinct from other groups and easily identifiable. In some cases it's possible to pass as something else, maybe even easy, but that's discouraged. In other cases, the cultural knowledge needed to pull it off is formidable, or it might just be impossible due to physical appearance alone.

                      Consider two groups: "local" and "foreigner". In some situations, there are some people could pass themselves off as either one, but there are many others who couldn't manage it. Would you say that the difference between a local and a foreigner doesn't exist? (But if I were designing a survey, I would add an "it's complicated" category.)

                      More generally I'm in favor of long-term forgetting about racial distinctions, so it would be good to avoid anything that would tend to make them permanent, and that means lowering the stakes wherever possible. Maybe someday, learning about these distinctions will be something we don't need to teach our children, because it doesn't really matter. But today that seems pretty far away, and sheltering people from the world means they're not prepared.

                      4 votes
                      1. [3]
                        chas
                        (edited )
                        Link Parent
                        My impression is that the more Rwandans focused on their supposed racial category, the more blood was shed. That said, my two viewings of "Hotel Rwanda" don't exactly make me an expert on this...

                        I think it supports the point that these categorizations are culture-specific, not that they don't exist.

                        My impression is that the more Rwandans focused on their supposed racial category, the more blood was shed. That said, my two viewings of "Hotel Rwanda" don't exactly make me an expert on this subject.

                        "what affiliations do other people consider you to have that someone might use to discriminate against you" but that might decrease understanding enough to change the results.

                        Even the phrase 'so-called "race"' would get the idea across. The way things are now, the American government essentially condones the concept of "races".

                        How would this be possible if such categories didn't exist in the minds of the public? I don't think the situation is that different from many other words we use with vague definitions. These categories are learned from examples.

                        I'm not sure I exactly understand your meaning here. I don't mean to patronize you, but I'm also not sure you understand how machine learning works. Machine learning, at present, categorizes absolutely nothing without the operator providing examples of "correct" answers to use as a target. In other words, AI can sort photos by eye-color, but whether it should use two bins (eg: bluish, brownish), three bins (eg: blue,brown, and green), or something more... that's arbitrary. All that is true is that a person can teach a machine to be racist.

                        In any event, populations around the world have all sorts of different traits. The problem with "races" are that the groups of traits are arbitrary. North Africans and Portugese probably have as much in common, genetically, as do Portugese and Finns.

                        Add to this the fact that many people are proud of their ethnicity and adopt cultural practices to make themselves more distinct from other groups and easily identifiable. In some cases it's possible to pass as something else, maybe even easy, but that's discouraged.

                        I don't know how to address this, because it's a huge topic.

                        One part is cultural, which I believe should be viewed separately from genetic make-up. You can see the harm in America easily. I believe "white" Americans are made to feel that they somehow have a greater claim to European history than do "black" Americans. This is patently idiotic. Nobody who has heard of Galileo or Beethoven today has any more reason to be proud of their accomplishments than anyone else. None of us were around, and all of us inherited the culture that created them. The same goes for jazz music. We should all be proud.

                        As for "ethnic" pride, I suspect that virtually all Americans share the same unconscious racism, towards the same groups. We're all drowning in the same diet of mass media. If the media repeats endlessly, for example, that "black" youth are unintelligent, or that "asian" men are ugly, that message infects everybody, including "black" youth and "asian" men. If that is indeed the case, it's a really sad state of affairs. In any event, to argue that one's genes should dictate their culture is, in my opinion, the worst kind of essentialism.

                        Consider two groups: "local" and "foreigner". In some situations, there are some people could pass themselves off as either one, but there are many others who couldn't manage it. Would you say that the difference between a local and a foreigner doesn't exist? (But if I were designing a survey, I would add an "it's complicated" category.)

                        I'm not sure I follow here, but it seems like an issue of culture, as opposed to "race"? It bothers me much less to generalize and categorize culture, perhaps because people have more agency when it comes to their cultural beliefs and habits.

                        More generally I'm in favor of long-term forgetting about racial distinctions, so it would be good to avoid anything that would tend to make them permanent, and that means lowering the stakes wherever possible. Maybe someday, learning about these distinctions will be something we don't need to teach our children, because it doesn't really matter. But today that seems pretty far away, and sheltering people from the world means they're not prepared.

                        I get your point here, but my whole argument is that we should all talk more about racism instead of "race". It is definitely possible to prepare racialized children for the real world without adopting a framework of racism. In fact, I have actually spoken to children about "race." I would say it's an imperative to let them know that racial categories are made-up nonsense, because if they aren't warned young, our culture will indoctrinate them, and "race" will seem more and more real the older they get. It is better understood as a hugely popular idea that is, nevertheless, complete bullshit :)

                        5 votes
                        1. [2]
                          skybrian
                          Link Parent
                          I've been thinking out loud and I apologize for the confusion while I try to figure it out. I'll try to say things more clearly. It seems like you think that the concept of "race" is essentially...

                          I've been thinking out loud and I apologize for the confusion while I try to figure it out. I'll try to say things more clearly.

                          It seems like you think that the concept of "race" is essentially about genetics and physical characteristics and using the word promotes this? I think most of us know that it's a cultural invention and we're largely talking about membership in a cultural group. This membership is fuzzy, sometimes a choice, and often it's imposed on you, but it's still real, just like religion and social class are real.

                          So what is a cultural group? The biggest cultural barrier is language, but there are thousands of other bits of cultural knowledge that separate groups, things like what you wear and what you cook, what stories you tell, what music you like, religious beliefs, how close you stand, gestures, physical contact, who you consider to be ancestors, and so on. And these are what hit you when you visit some other place in the world with a different culture. Of course there's plenty of borrowing between cultures, and any given person might not know something or participate in some cultural behavior. They might also adopt practices from other cultures. But there are central tendencies of the group.

                          For reasons of history (often terrible, as history usually is) these groups often get associated with certain aspects of physical appearance, which are largely arbitrary, but the result is that people guess about someone's culture based on appearance, dress, language, behavior, and so on. Also, you're often not allowed to claim membership in that culture without at least somewhat looking the part. But focusing on physical features used to enforce it misses the point.

                          These groups get reinforced both from the inside and from the outside. Sometimes they don't persist - immigrants move and their children forget the old ways. But others are much more persistent. They aren't going to be forgotten when people don't want to forget and they are also not allowed to forget, but they do evolve.

                          I agree that understanding how this really works is important, but calling some of the most persistent cultural groups "made-up nonsense" or "complete bullshit" doesn't help. It's true that culture is invented and many cultural beliefs aren't true, but we aren't just talking about myths, we're also talking about how people live, and people aren't going to abandon the things they like.

                          5 votes
                          1. chas
                            (edited )
                            Link Parent
                            The problem is, once a human categorizes something, it distorts the way they think about it. It makes people stupid. Here are some examples: We have three friends: Mario, Nacho, and Sally. Mario...

                            The problem is, once a human categorizes something, it distorts the way they think about it. It makes people stupid. Here are some examples:

                            We have three friends: Mario, Nacho, and Sally. Mario is a "dark white man." Nacho is an "olive-skinned hispanic." Sally is a "light-skinned black woman." In reality, they have exactly the same skin tone.

                            Stefano comes from Sicily. Sam is an American, whose parents are French and Algerian. We say Stefano is a "white Sicilian", yet Sam is "mixed-race." In reality, their DNA almost makes them cousins.

                            Blonde-haired Francisca travels to America. She is "white"... until people discover she is Brazilian.

                            Barack is the "first black president." His mother is "white."

                            Esther is Jewish. At home, in Seattle, she is "white" but she ceases to be "white" when she travels to Mississippi.

                            Aram is an Armenian with black hair, and olive skintone. He "looks black, but he's actually white."

                            Those examples are just one flavor of this nonsense. I somewhat regret not choosing a more frightening one, such as medical treatment. A well-meaning doctor, who has slotted a patient into a race bucket, is prone to recommending inappropriate treatments.

                            2 votes
  4. [11]
    mrbig
    Link
    Not allowing people with low social and verbal skills to elaborate and resolve negative first impressions. Not giving the benefit of the doubt. Interpreting statements to mean the worst things...

    Not allowing people with low social and verbal skills to elaborate and resolve negative first impressions. Not giving the benefit of the doubt. Interpreting statements to mean the worst things possible. Shaming people for actually answering the questions they were asked.

    I’ve been a target for such behaviors my whole life. They’re definitely harmful.

    23 votes
    1. [3]
      GoingMerry
      Link Parent
      Yeah it’s funny how a patience and understanding are such a rarity in our society. Everyone is in such a rush they are willing to make conclusions on peoples’ personalities and motives based on a...

      Yeah it’s funny how a patience and understanding are such a rarity in our society. Everyone is in such a rush they are willing to make conclusions on peoples’ personalities and motives based on a single interaction.

      Learning how to communicate without getting defensive really helps - after reading a book called Non-violent Communication, it became so easy to iron out little gaffes that happen when you’re getting to know people.

      4 votes
    2. [7]
      Kuromantis
      Link Parent
      Context? I didn't get it.

      Shaming people for actually answering the questions they were asked.

      Context? I didn't get it.

      3 votes
      1. [6]
        mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Sometimes people ask questions but don’t really want an answer.

        Sometimes people ask questions but don’t really want an answer.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          MimicSquid
          Link Parent
          Or they are within a social context where the question is intended to elicit a response other than an honest opinion.

          Or they are within a social context where the question is intended to elicit a response other than an honest opinion.

          8 votes
          1. mrbig
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            That is correct. But personally I don’t have much problem with situations like what you’re probably referring to, they tend to be very clear cut — like at work, for example. This becomes way more...

            That is correct. But personally I don’t have much problem with situations like what you’re probably referring to, they tend to be very clear cut — like at work, for example. This becomes way more complicated in fluid and spontaneous social contexts, particularly in romantic relationships.

            2 votes
        2. [3]
          Kuromantis
          Link Parent
          Where? I don't think I've ever tried for a proper social relationship (probably because of the first thing you pointed out) so I don't know.

          Where? I don't think I've ever tried for a proper social relationship (probably because of the first thing you pointed out) so I don't know.

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            mrbig
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            People in relationships ask all kinds of questions that will get you in serious trouble if you don’t answer very carefully. And by careful I don’t mean you should lie, but be extremely considering...

            People in relationships ask all kinds of questions that will get you in serious trouble if you don’t answer very carefully. And by careful I don’t mean you should lie, but be extremely considering and thoughtful. They may be asking, they may even assure you everything will be fine and it’s no big deal, but that doesn’t mean they’re prepared for the answer. So maybe don’t paint the whole picture at once.

            But eventually shit always hit the fan.

            Things like:

            • how many sexual partners did you have?
            • how do I look in this outfit?
            • this girl or guy is beautiful. Don’t you agree?
            • why are you leaving me?
            • are you leaving me to be with X?

            One piece of advice: do not ask questions you’re not prepared to know the answer. I do not subscribe to be notion that we should know everything about our partners, we’re all messed up in our own particular ways. Don’t make things harder than they should be.

            6 votes
            1. rosco
              Link Parent
              I think this is social subtlety. It's why some people are charming and others are well, not. The great thing about relationships and conversations is that almost every verbalized communication...

              I think this is social subtlety. It's why some people are charming and others are well, not. The great thing about relationships and conversations is that almost every verbalized communication comes with a slough of non-verbal communication, context, and intonation.

              I think a good rule of thumb is if you wouldn't want to know something they probably wouldn't either, a la previous partners. And sometimes a question of how do I look in this outfit is just them feeling insecure and hoping for some validation.

              5 votes
  5. [5]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    One more: turning everything into a debate. A debate is a zero sum game in which one must lose (by being persuaded) for the other to win (by succeeding to persuade). Debates are usually not about...

    One more: turning everything into a debate. A debate is a zero sum game in which one must lose (by being persuaded) for the other to win (by succeeding to persuade).

    Debates are usually not about finding the truth, they’re about defeating the opponent. During a debate, the interlocutors tend to get even more entrenched in their positions and will give credibility to the weakest hypothesis (even things they might never consider to believe in otherwise) as long as they give them the advantage.

    Conversations, on the other hand, are not zero sum games because in a good conversation everyone is mutually benefited. You can talk about TV shows, baseball games, and even the weather. You can use it just to show sympathy and affection.

    There are also conversations of a persuasive nature, but the difference is that persuasion is not its ultimate goal. It’s okay to agree to disagree. And, in an apparent contradiction, when your goal is not change anyone’s mind, you often become more persuasive.

    20 votes
    1. [3]
      Gub
      Link Parent
      Yes. Often we are waiting for our turn to speak, not actually listening to the other person. And especially so if it's a topic on which we disagree with them. Your last line is a great point. The...

      Yes. Often we are waiting for our turn to speak, not actually listening to the other person. And especially so if it's a topic on which we disagree with them. Your last line is a great point. The other person wants to be heard as much as us, so when we actually listen it puts them at ease.

      9 votes
      1. Crocodile
        Link Parent
        I have to catch myself doing this, unfortunately. Many people make this mistake, I feel it is something about humans in general (if someone has something to actually back that up or against that,...

        Often we are waiting for our turn to speak, not actually listening to the other person.

        I have to catch myself doing this, unfortunately. Many people make this mistake, I feel it is something about humans in general (if someone has something to actually back that up or against that, please show it, I am just speculating haha). Even more-so, people will spend their time waiting thinking of their next "argument," which might have even been addressed!

        6 votes
      2. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Very correct my friend. For completion, I must say that debating is frequently required when the stakes are super high, to a point that aggravation becomes much less relevant in face of a concrete...

        Very correct my friend.

        For completion, I must say that debating is frequently required when the stakes are super high, to a point that aggravation becomes much less relevant in face of a concrete decision that must be taken in very short time (relative to complexity).

        Deciding which path to take in a war field is an example, and so is deciding who’s gonna lead the entire country for the next term.

        But in day to day life most situations do not require a debate, and failing to recognize that is extremely harmful to all kinds of relationship.

        5 votes
    2. timo
      Link Parent
      Many people also believe they are being debated and it scares them. It's a shame that you often can't have disagreements in a conversation without people getting offended or they want to stop...

      turning everything into a debate. A debate is a zero sum game in which one must lose (by being persuaded) for the other to win (by succeeding to persuade).

      There are also conversations of a persuasive nature, but the difference is that persuasion is not its ultimate goal. It’s okay to agree to disagree.

      Many people also believe they are being debated and it scares them. It's a shame that you often can't have disagreements in a conversation without people getting offended or they want to stop talking about something.

      6 votes
  6. [12]
    Icarus
    Link
    Sarcasm. I think for the most part sarcasm can be okay in small doses, when speaking person to person. Its definitely funny if used right. It is not okay, and downright disrespectful in some...

    Sarcasm.

    I think for the most part sarcasm can be okay in small doses, when speaking person to person. Its definitely funny if used right. It is not okay, and downright disrespectful in some instances, when used online due to the lack of any other context that would deliver its true meaning. Online, it comes off more as a way to be condescending to someone, hoping that shame will make them change their opinion, or to look "cool" to others that might be a part of the similar group think.

    My advice: Think about what you are intending to communicate, and double check whether sarcasm is appropriate in this context. Do you have compassion for the person? Are you genuinely wanting to change their mind? No? Then just walk away. The internet is already too negative, lets not add more to it.

    17 votes
    1. PelicanCultist
      Link Parent
      I’ll make something a proudly present it to my girlfriend, almost childlike in my whimsy. She then responds with “Wow, so cool” and that’s all. She’s sarcastic in nature. At a certain point I...

      I’ll make something a proudly present it to my girlfriend, almost childlike in my whimsy. She then responds with “Wow, so cool” and that’s all. She’s sarcastic in nature. At a certain point I wouldn’t share that part of my life with her because it was jus hurtful. I had a talk with her about it, and she now she tries to take interest in my interests. Communicating what bothers you is key in making something work.

      12 votes
    2. [4]
      mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I don’t think sarcasm works on internet forums at all. It requires a degree of familiarity that doesn’t exist in that context. Furthermore, sarcasm cannot be overt — the interlocutor must be able...

      I don’t think sarcasm works on internet forums at all. It requires a degree of familiarity that doesn’t exist in that context. Furthermore, sarcasm cannot be overt — the interlocutor must be able to read between the lines. That’s why the sarcasm tag (“/s”) cannot produce actual sarcasm, it only denotes that the statement must not be taken seriously.

      11 votes
      1. [3]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        From a strictly personal perspective, I think sarcasm is absolutely transmittable through text - especially when there is modifiers like italics available - though it will be much more subtle...

        From a strictly personal perspective, I think sarcasm is absolutely transmittable through text - especially when there is modifiers like italics available - though it will be much more subtle without the other social cues. The problem is that in order for sarcasm to work, it has to be obviously facetious.

        Example: The Trump presidency has been excellent for immigrants. He's really looking out for them.

        The reason why this is a problem is that there are tons of people on the internet who believe stupid and patently false things. If I were to post that to a large enough reddit sub, for instance, there would be at least a handful of people who would think I were being sincere. In spite of "trump baby cages" being a meme at this point, they'll think my example is real.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          mrbig
          Link Parent
          Notice that I did not say sarcasm cannot be conveyed through text, I referred specifically to Internet forums. Both irony and sarcasm have a long and fruitful history in literature.

          Notice that I did not say sarcasm cannot be conveyed through text, I referred specifically to Internet forums.

          Both irony and sarcasm have a long and fruitful history in literature.

          3 votes
          1. Crocodile
            Link Parent
            Great distinction. Internet forums are too, well, messy (for lack of a better term) and someone will mistake what you say, which can then turn into a shitshow. Talented authors and poets...

            Great distinction. Internet forums are too, well, messy (for lack of a better term) and someone will mistake what you say, which can then turn into a shitshow. Talented authors and poets absolutely can convey sarcasm through poetry and prose.

            4 votes
    3. Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      One of the best ways I've heard this phrased is: Which is a somewhat amusing way (I always picture a Groucho Marx character waggling their eyebrows) to remember that there's a lot of context and...

      One of the best ways I've heard this phrased is:

      Remember that in text, the other person can't see your eyebrows

      Which is a somewhat amusing way (I always picture a Groucho Marx character waggling their eyebrows) to remember that there's a lot of context and body language lost when you can't physically see a person.

      9 votes
    4. [5]
      viridian
      Link Parent
      I would second this and honestly add irony as a whole to it. Lots of people in the Twitter age seem to have a real struggle with channeling sincerity when it comes to serious and important topics....

      I would second this and honestly add irony as a whole to it. Lots of people in the Twitter age seem to have a real struggle with channeling sincerity when it comes to serious and important topics. I hope soon online mass communication can see the same type of movement as the "new sincerity" movement in fiction, music, and philosophy.

      I would love to see more people embrace saying openly, and without hedging, exactly what they mean. It's part of why I joined tildes, I've actually noticed that as groups and communities get larger, one of the ways (but not the largest) that discourse degrades, is that low effort statements couched in irony become the main tool of interlocutors, who themselves are more frequently seeking aggrandizement than discourse.

      6 votes
      1. [4]
        rogue_cricket
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I agree. I think this fear of sincerity also feeds a lot of what I'd consider to be "cringe" culture, where people have taken to posting things with the intent of shaming another person who has...

        I agree. I think this fear of sincerity also feeds a lot of what I'd consider to be "cringe" culture, where people have taken to posting things with the intent of shaming another person who has done something embarrassing but ultimately harmless. Often it's related to someone who is engaging in a hobby that they like, or it's someone just someone doing normal teenager stuff, or someone making a joke that doesn't land, etc.

        First of all, it sucks that this mildly embarrassing stuff now gets saved and blown up and shared. What used to be a passing moment that you wouldn't even think about the next day could now be filmed and put on the internet and copied ad infinitum. A friend of mine is in a screenshot that is commonly touted around as "cringey". The pic was taken nearly five years ago and it still comes up now and then.

        Secondly, I think engaging with what is essentially the public shaming other people for these mild social gaffes really shapes the way you think in a very negative way, even aside from it just being mean-spirited. When you view a lot of "cringe" content I think you start seeing the world through that lens and it affects you. It puts up this barrier between you and whatever you think might make you "cringey", like trying something new where someone might see you being a typical beginner who's bad at it, or liking anime or whatever. Even if you do admit to enjoying anime, for instance, you're meant to do it with this hint of irony or a thousand caveats to make it seem less "cringey". You can really start to obsess over your past mistakes and hold back parts of yourself, refusing to wholly engage with something out of fear it might be embarrassing. It eats away at your willingness to be vulnerable, to show sincerity, and that can really stunt your ability to connect with others and to connect with yourself.

        (Not that other things can't cause these feelings, but I think that cringe content certainly doesn't help it.)

        And it is everywhere! Once I made the conscious decision to try and avoid cringe content - specifically, I wanted to avoid everything where the "enjoyment" of the content is predicated on you feeling vicariously superior to whatever is being posted about - it really made me realize just how much of it there is.

        10 votes
        1. kfwyre
          Link Parent
          One of the things I really appreciate about Tildes is that it's not rooted in social misery. We're not signal-boosting people deserving of hate/ire/scorn/cringe/etc. as our primary content. So...

          One of the things I really appreciate about Tildes is that it's not rooted in social misery. We're not signal-boosting people deserving of hate/ire/scorn/cringe/etc. as our primary content. So much of the wider internet is about feeding people examples of those they can look down on or laugh at, which just normalizes abusive thoughts and behaviors. Contrastingly, I feel like people can operate with sincerity here without fear of getting internet-slapped for it.

          I'm someone who regularly puts my heart on my sleeve in my comments, as well as committing the internet sin of making an effort, and I don't get any pushback here for it. On reddit I used to get a bunch of "lol wut" and "tl;dr" responses to my longer posts, in addition to plenty of comments from people who use any sort of genuine human expression as nothing more than a chance for a shallow and cynical take. I'm sure people here might still have those kinds of responses privately with regard to my comments here, but it makes a huge difference to me that they don't post them.

          9 votes
        2. viridian
          Link Parent
          I don't really like thinking about it, but I was definitely an adopter and a big vector of memetic infection for this exact type of content, as well as outrage bait. Before reddit and twitter, as...

          I don't really like thinking about it, but I was definitely an adopter and a big vector of memetic infection for this exact type of content, as well as outrage bait. Before reddit and twitter, as far as I know, 4chan was just about the only place you could find this sort of thing, and I posted in the cringe/RAGE threads pretty frequently, and eventually started dumping my own image collections, thus spreading the meme further and faster.

          The feeling over superiority over people really hits home, it was a combination of humor, the twisted desire of seeing a sort of human trainwreck, and also an ego boost for an insecure person who was doing pretty bad in life, from an objective standpoint.

          All that said though, I think irony is a problem unto itself that's a higher order problem than cringe/outrage content. The latter is very basal, and is harmful only in the same way people used to think of reality TV as harmful. The former's toxicity is that it is a wildly popular tool in shutting other people down while allowing not only the writer to feel superior to his or her target, but also their intended audience writ large. Post-modernists used irony and satire as tools of subversion in philosophy and in writing, but now they are mainstream, and they've only empowered existing power structures within society, which can employ the rhetoric of irony against agents of change.

          6 votes
        3. Crocodile
          Link Parent
          Mildly embarrassing stuff is not even the worse (not to invalidate what a "cringe" picture of you getting shared everywhere can do to someone) of it. People, and especially teenagers make...

          First of all, it sucks that this mildly embarrassing stuff now gets saved and blown up and shared.

          Mildly embarrassing stuff is not even the worse (not to invalidate what a "cringe" picture of you getting shared everywhere can do to someone) of it. People, and especially teenagers make mistakes. Before, one could learn and it would eventually be forgotten. Now there is a permanent record. Here is an article that goes far more in-depth and as this is not the main topic here. I won't discuss it more.

          Secondly, I think engaging with what is essentially the public shaming other people for these mild social gaffes really shapes the way you think in a very negative way...When you view a lot of "cringe" content I think you start seeing the world through that lens and it affects you

          I have noticed exactly the same. Social norms, and being an "outsider" have always existed, though. What I believe is different here is the constant downplay and criticism of "cringey" content, rather than uplifting and support of non-"cringey" content. I am relatively young, however, so if someone who is older has a greater perspective on this culture in the past, I am obviously glad to hear it!

          4 votes
  7. [6]
    skybrian
    Link
    Binary thinking is often harmful to online conversations. (You knew I was going to say this, right?) We are used to thinking of the world in terms of statements that are either true or false, or...

    Binary thinking is often harmful to online conversations. (You knew I was going to say this, right?)

    We are used to thinking of the world in terms of statements that are either true or false, or in terms of labels that either apply or they don't. Labels can be thought of as defining sets of things that they apply to. But these labels are usually vague and set membership is fuzzy. It's easy for conversations to degenerate into arguing over membership in vaguely-defined sets. This is especially true when the label is emotionally charged.

    13 votes
    1. [4]
      wcerfgba
      Link Parent
      Perhaps this is already included in 'binary thinking', but I would also mention '(over)generalization': I do something stupid -> "I am stupid", or you do something bad -> "you are bad". With the...

      Perhaps this is already included in 'binary thinking', but I would also mention '(over)generalization': I do something stupid -> "I am stupid", or you do something bad -> "you are bad". With the "I am stupid" instance, I see this in my colleagues sometimes and I don't like it because I consider it negative self-talk, and because smart people can occasionally do dumb things, and being smart doesn't mean you have to be 100% on-point 100% of the time. With the "you are bad" case, I see this a lot when I have ethical discussions with pretty much anyone: people are very quick to take an observation of a single action and extrapolate the value-judgement of that one action into a value-judgement of the totality of that person's existence, as if they are incapable of doing anything 'not bad'. This also tends to move such conversations away from an analysis of the particular act into ad hominem.

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        Crocodile
        Link Parent
        It is also something I try to be very clear on if I need to critique someone's actions. Let's say someone made a horrible mistake on some project, I would show how the decision is bad, not the...

        do something stupid -> "I am stupid", or you do something bad -> "you are bad"

        It is also something I try to be very clear on if I need to critique someone's actions. Let's say someone made a horrible mistake on some project, I would show how the decision is bad, not the person. Something important for everyone to do :)

        people are very quick to take an observation of a single action and extrapolate the value-judgement of that one action into a value-judgement of the totality of that person's existence, as if they are incapable of doing anything 'not bad'.

        Yup. As you said, someone doing something wrong doesn't mean they are inherently a bad person. Repeated "bad" actions with purposeful resistance to change, can, though.

        Also, this is somewhat related but: making one (or even some) bad decisions in the past doesn't mean a person cannot change. Same with someone's opinion. Frequently, I see people point out how politician A used to support Apples but now they support Oranges. If you can show that this was only to attract voters, sure, but people can very well change their opinion. I know I have some pretty much polar opposite ones than even 3 years ago!

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          Omnicrola
          Link Parent
          I notice this a lot too, and still catch myself making that assumption as well. The assumption being that if a politician changes their mind, the primary reason they did so was to get more votes....

          Frequently, I see people point out how politician A used to support Apples but now they support Oranges.

          I notice this a lot too, and still catch myself making that assumption as well. The assumption being that if a politician changes their mind, the primary reason they did so was to get more votes. Which is not inherently bad.

          A related thing I've wondered about is that since I think a lot of people have this perception of politicians, does this make them more resistant to changing their minds even when they think it's right? Just so the can point to their history and say "see? I've always been for/against that thing".

          7 votes
          1. Crocodile
            Link Parent
            Agreed. Even if that is the primary reason, it does not invalidate any "good" reasons to change. Never thought about that before (so thanks!) but I would say the same. Although, consistency is...

            The assumption being that if a politician changes their mind, the primary reason they did so was to get more votes. Which is not inherently bad.

            Agreed. Even if that is the primary reason, it does not invalidate any "good" reasons to change.

            does this make them more resistant to changing their minds even when they think it's right? Just so the can point to their history and say "see? I've always been for/against that thing".

            Never thought about that before (so thanks!) but I would say the same. Although, consistency is something humans desire. In Influence by Robert Cialdini, he talks about that extensively and explains it better than I ever could. Highly recommend the book.

            2 votes
    2. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Of course I did, but let it be known that I always appreciate when you do bring it up! :D I think it's incredibly important, especially right now. I see the hard binary especially with regards to...

      Binary thinking is often harmful to online conversations. (You knew I was going to say this, right?)

      Of course I did, but let it be known that I always appreciate when you do bring it up! :D

      I think it's incredibly important, especially right now. I see the hard binary especially with regards to left and right politics, where membership in one carries with it a seeming moral obligation to accept, often uncritically, an entire swath of assumptions and positions.

      I had a recent conversation with my mom where she talked about how she feels completely alienated from many of her conservative friends because she doesn't accept Trump and has therefore gone against her place in the binary on the right. Likewise, I had a recent conversation with a family member where I was accused of going against my left side of the binary because I expressed concerns about the US protests being vectors for viral spread. Both me and my mom were critiqued not for our positions themselves but because those didn't adequately support our "teams", which is a perfect example of not only the false binary at play, but how it can limit outcomes in negative ways.

      3 votes
  8. [5]
    Gub
    Link
    Processed vegetarian foods compared to unprocessed animal products. Replacing a freshly cut steak with a veggie burger filled with processed wheat, soy, extracted protein and refined oil is not a...

    Processed vegetarian foods compared to unprocessed animal products. Replacing a freshly cut steak with a veggie burger filled with processed wheat, soy, extracted protein and refined oil is not a healthy choice.

    We're given the message that meat is bad for you, makes you fat, gives you heart disease. But rarely is a comparison made between products of equal processing.

    I eat a meat-heavy diet because I feel better physically and mentally, so I want to make a plug for local farmers. There is a massive difference in quality between grocery store meat versus at the farmers market.

    11 votes
    1. [3]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      While I agree, I believe many vegetarians are in it because of animal suffering, so for them the choice is veggie burger or no burger at all.

      While I agree, I believe many vegetarians are in it because of animal suffering, so for them the choice is veggie burger or no burger at all.

      14 votes
      1. [2]
        emdash
        Link Parent
        Or because they're conscious about climate change and the ecological intensity of farming animals for meat; in which case, again not only is it veggie burger versus no burger, but veggie burger...

        Or because they're conscious about climate change and the ecological intensity of farming animals for meat; in which case, again not only is it veggie burger versus no burger, but veggie burger wins against meat burger too.

        12 votes
    2. thundergolfer
      Link Parent
      I've never met (or really even seen online) vegetarians that put any emphasis on the healthiness of a veggie burger being the reason it's eaten instead of a "freshly cut steak".

      I've never met (or really even seen online) vegetarians that put any emphasis on the healthiness of a veggie burger being the reason it's eaten instead of a "freshly cut steak".

      10 votes
  9. [3]
    tlalexander
    Link
    Intellectual property restrictions! They dramatically increase cost by intentionally giving monopolies to control of information. This has dramatic second order effects on innovation that I...

    Intellectual property restrictions! They dramatically increase cost by intentionally giving monopolies to control of information. This has dramatic second order effects on innovation that I strongly believe keeps the overall rate of innovation much lower. Of course now companies have adapted to market with intellectual property restrictions and many people have a hard time imagining how things would work without them.

    But open source software development provides some insight in to how engineering works in a world without intellectual property restrictions. And in the hardware world it’s quite interesting. 3D printers were $50k or so for 20 years until the patents expired. Then a bunch of hackers in a distributed fashion figured out ways to make them work with a cheap parts list, and 15 years after patents expired you can get a decent 3D printer for $300 or less. Even in 2010 stratasys was pushing their “entry level” printer at $30,000. Ten years later and you can buy a machine of comparable capabilities for $1000. That is a 30x reduction of cost that happened because hackers and businesses alike worked on improvements and shared what they learned as open source.

    Businesses like Prusa Research prove that an apparently very successful business can coexist in a market of clones. Josef Prusa couldn’t be happier that his design is the most manufactured 3D printer in the world. The Prusa machine costs $750-1000 while clones cost $300 but the difference in quality means many customers choose the more expensive original rather than a clone.

    This means we could have open source washing machines which can be repaired indefinitely rather than going to the landfill. We could have open source automobiles with commodity parts and a proven history of safe operation. And if we had open source medical research and drug manufacturing we would have cheap drugs. Of course research is needed and an open source world would need to intentionally direct resources towards drug research etc, but this seems totally doable. Our costs would net go down due to the benefits of open sharing versus siloed development and huge executive bonuses.

    Intellectual property restrictions have in my opinion led to a dramatic reduction in quality of life worldwide. How many developing nations would benefit from an open source Maytag style washing machine that they could easily manufacture themselves? It would save them from having to design from scratch something which has already been designed over and over, and would ensure they don’t become too economically reliant on predatory manufacturers in more developed areas nearby.

    Even if my theory has some flaw, I think this concept seriously needs to be studied. I really want to see some economists who will take this idea seriously. Can you imagine if every person with an internet connection had access to a world library full of every book ever written? Our economies would need to adapt but I believe we can do so mindfully and with minimal disruption. The end result would be a stronger smarter world.

    10 votes
    1. [2]
      mftrhu
      Link Parent
      I can, because we already de facto live in such a world. Library Genesis has been around for more than a decade, and Sci-Hub for a bit less than that. Books were already being shared before that,...

      Can you imagine if every person with an internet connection had access to a world library full of every book ever written?

      I can, because we already de facto live in such a world.

      Library Genesis has been around for more than a decade, and Sci-Hub for a bit less than that. Books were already being shared before that, and there have always existed websites or communities that allowed you to read most books at no cost.

      A counter-argument to this would be "yes, we do, if you know where to look", but I find it weak because of the sheer amount of information that is available to us. Navigating such a world library would not be much easier than navigating the internet proper: you can't expect to jump in, grab a random book off the (figurative) shelves, and find something interesting within, you need to rely on curated lists and third-party opinions - and "look for So-and-So's 2011 book «The theory of everything»" is not made that much more complex by tacking "on Sci-hub" on it.

      5 votes
      1. tlalexander
        Link Parent
        Much more effort could be put towards these services if they were not illegal, schools could use these services if they were not illegal. We could standardize on these instead of expecting most...

        Much more effort could be put towards these services if they were not illegal, schools could use these services if they were not illegal. We could standardize on these instead of expecting most people to buy books. And books are only one part of the intellectual property story. We still have people dying in America because they can’t afford insulin, which is also an intellectual property issue. We need to change the laws, not just subvert them.

        4 votes
  10. [2]
    vegai
    Link
    Coffee. It’s addictive, and can cause the body to go into stress mode, causing all sorts of problems, not to mention sleep pattern disruptions. It’s great for creativity and mental acuity, but so...

    Coffee. It’s addictive, and can cause the body to go into stress mode, causing all sorts of problems, not to mention sleep pattern disruptions. It’s great for creativity and mental acuity, but so are many other drugs, most of which everyone agrees are harmful. But coffee seems to have a status of an elixir of life in most of the world.

    A suspicious number of coffee research is funded by coffee companies, which makes the non-negative results slightly questionable.

    8 votes
    1. mrbig
      Link Parent
      I find it weird how people brag about it. “I had four cups of coffee just this morning!”. Yes, it’s a drug. You’re an addict dude.

      I find it weird how people brag about it. “I had four cups of coffee just this morning!”.

      Yes, it’s a drug. You’re an addict dude.

      6 votes
  11. annadane
    Link
    Facebook. People already don't know they bought their competition and that they sort the feed algorithmically (can lead to depression) but they also try to hook you to stay on the platforms with...

    Facebook.

    People already don't know they bought their competition and that they sort the feed algorithmically (can lead to depression) but they also try to hook you to stay on the platforms with psychological tricks and don't have the best privacy track record

    6 votes