in Things that make you go "hmm"

Don’t Fight Stupid With More Stupid

In my experience, it seems most advocacy ends up advocating stupidity. The more you reduce good yet subtle or complex ideas down into meme-shareable pictures, slogans and sound bites, the more you take away everything intelligent and end up spreading bad ideas and ignorance instead of good ideas and knowledge.

Where this is the biggest problem is when a slogan is promoted to fight an ignorant idea, but with another ignorant idea. This excluded middle fallacy comes up a lot in arguments already, but the culture of photo-meme sharing associated with social media like Facebook has made this a bigger problem with a simple click decision: do I like it or not? Do I share it or not?

One good example is the abortion debate. There’s a tendency for two extreme sides to either portray abortion as “murder” or to portray anti-abortionists as men trying to control women’s bodies. Both of these are inaccurate. Women are both vocal and silent opponents of abortion, on the one hand, and aborting a fetus that can’t survive on its own is simply not the same as murder. The issue is complicated. And when you make a little picture and slap a slogan on it representing a further over-simplification, you’re not promoting a cause, you’re working against intelligent debate.

Because it’s not just that the solutions are usually in the middle between A and B. Often they’re found by changing the axis and finding an answer that’s completely different. And that’s why so often advocacy just promotes stupidity.

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