On Backchannel she’s writing about the internal mechanisms of Gamergate-type personalities, and how their own insecurities make them aggressive, a very interesting read.
My first breakthrough came when I started studying bullying—when I started reading studies about why punitive approaches to meanness and cruelty backfire. It’s so easy to hate those who are hateful, and so hard to be empathetic to where they’re coming from. This made me double down on an ethnographic mindset that requires that you step away from your assumptions and try to understand the perspective of people who think and act differently than you do. I’m realizing more and more how desperately this perspective is needed as I watch researchers and advocates, politicians and everyday people judge others from their vantage point without taking a moment to understand why a particular logic might unfold.
What prompted her to write is an article in The Guardian Scraping by on six figures. The core of her argument is
I can appreciate why individuals are indignant when they feel as though they pay taxes for that money to be given away to foreigners through foreign aid and immigration programs. These people feel like they’re struggling; like they’re working hard; like they’re facing injustice. Still, it makes sense to me that people’s sense of prosperity is only as good as their feeling that they’re getting ahead. And when you’ve been earning $40/hour doing union work only to lose that job and feel like the only other option is a $25/hour job, the feeling is bad, no matter that this is more than most people make. There’s a reason that Silicon Valley engineers feel as though they’re struggling, and it’s not because they’re comparing themselves to everyone in the world. It’s because the standard of living keeps dropping in front of them. It’s all relative.
Count the number of “feel” in the paragraph above.
It’s these feelings that create Alternative Facts, or actually Relative Truth, and politics is often about taking these relative truths into account.