The Disillusionment of a Pseudo-Intellectual

I’m one of those “students” who crammed four years of college education into five. I have a bachelor’s degree in Speech.  That’s it.  And I literally flunked out of two other departments (Math and Physics) before Dr. Scheid took pity on me and graciously permitted me to transfer into his Speech department when I probably didn’t deserve it.

It’s not as though I don’t value education.  I do.  It’s just that for me, the process is too painful and lacks any tangible reward beyond the piece of paper that you get to hang on your wall after you’ve suffered the run through the gauntlet of academic rigor.  It just ain’t worth the trouble.  At least, not to me.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t admire smart people with advanced degrees and who make their ways through the world using the brains and education to advance and support themselves and their loved ones.  On the contrary, I wish I had the discipline to make it through the rigors of academia as so very many of my colleagues in and out of uniform have done.  I particularly admire and respect all the Ph.D.’s and other researchers with whom I work here at the Research Center.  But for better or for worse, I lack their academic discipline and ambition.

Having said all that, I’m not stupid.  I may have been born at night, but tweren’t last night.  I pay attention. I read a little now and again.  I’m not a low-information voter nor do I center my world in the ongoing real-life drama that government has become.  I can sift through the BS, the fake news, the outright lies and only occasionally be fooled by something that rings unusually true.  I check sources often, though not always.

Yet here on this blog from time to time, I spout off opinion as if I know what the hell I’m talking about.

Clearly I do not.

I have never been as completely wrong about anything as I have been in reading the tea leaves of this past election cycle and the subsequent fallout.  I wrongly presumed that reason would prevail.  I wrongly presumed that the Nation would come to its collective senses and make this a more routine election cycle rather than the wholly embarrassing spectacle that it’s become.

I was not just a little bit wrong. I was horrifically wrong.

I watch the headlines flash across my Facebook page and the words only become more extreme and mean spirited by the minute.  No longer is it easy to find genuinely reasoned dialogue among disagreeing parties.  No longer is it easy to find a post regarding politics that avoids personal attacks and profanity.  (Don’t get me wrong. I swear like a sailor — and that probably does a disservice to sailors everywhere.  And I love Nicki’s Blog which is hilariously profane and fun.  I wish I could swear like her, but she’s had some advanced training or some such shit.)

Bottom line here, about ten poorly-constructed paragraphs too late:  I’m done with it all.   I’m done talking about it, I’m done posting about it, and I’m pretty much done reading it.  One day I share a meme that makes me laugh and the next thing I know, people whose opinions I often respect but with whom I occasionally disagree immediately trade profane insults.  No disagreement, no ramping up the passion, no escalation of the language.  Right to the profane personal attacks.

What the fuck is wrong with people?  Have you never heard of civil discourse?  Seriously.  Your opinion is not the only one out there and, news flash, there are people who don’t think like you do.  That doesn’t immediately make them WRONG.  Maybe they are and maybe they’re not.  Without some kind of discourse based on facts and ideas, how can you be sure that your opinion is 100% correct?  How do you know for certain that you’ve drawn the only correct conclusion?  And if you are sure that your opinion is 100% correct, chances are you’re wrong.  (In my experience, the chance of me being wrong is directly proportional to the degree to which I think I’m right.)

Disagreements do not mean that the person with the opposing opinion has no worth.  If you behave like that, it diminishes your opinion.

So anyway, I’m done with memes, reposting what I believe to be enlightening articles and engaging in fruitless arguments potentially pointing the way to a differing point of view.  It’s too much and it’s become too mean spirited.  I refuse to arbitrate when people on my page go down that road.  I guess I’m neither smart enough nor savvy enough to make a reasoned argument that will provide a different perspective.  You wanna live in your bubble, that’s fine.  I’m probably not going to visit.

I’ll leave the political “discourse” to the real intellectuals.


The Disillusionment of a Pseudo-Intellectual — 16 Comments

  1. Testify.
    I’ll repost a political bit if I anticipate getting a robust response… simply for giggles, or to poke the bear because I’m bored or feeling spiteful that the bear seems to be getting too much rest… but i have been gollywomped more than I predicted this year by vehement low brow negative attacks, complaints, insults, and whines. It sucks the air right out of my sail and I founder like sexually aggrieved salmon staring at a dam where once was a hot fishy female fortune. I know I am mixing metaphor and simile all over but no one freaking reads these things so, hush.
    As you stated, the truly hard aspect is when the explosive negativity flows from someone you did not expect; Someone you otherwise admire or respect.
    Frustrating as hell.
    Reminder time…
    Guess what Wolf Man…?
    We are not alone.
    You already know this, but take renewed solace in the silent camaraderie of the disillusioned. The grand experiment of social media has finally been tested, in this election, and the guild is off the Lilly.
    Big time.
    People, if given their head, will run headlong into the abyss without the restriction of polite societal rules. “Lord of the Flies” is cliche and sad because it is frighteningly real. For some reason, a growing percentage of our online world seems to operate as though an unseen giant IT administrator flipped off the switch for civility. This election isn’t necessarily showcasing dark energies as it is demonstrating life with the safeties off, a hair trigger away from explosive release. Words are weapons. We learned this over our Public Affairs career…. and this is really all the issue revolves around. People feel they are “weapons free.”
    Whatever caused this we seem to immersed in the new normal. How do we respond?

    The few times I would flee from SM in the years since a friend convinced me to join Facebook (this person has since opted out of FB btw) was maybe 1-2 in a calendar year. It would be a personal slight or the treacherous ground crossing of personal worlds and professional. Always ugly when that happens.
    Yet, those rare instances stayed confined to only those involved. Now?

    Dude, it is a free-for-all fu__fest, as everyone with a beating heart and throbbing temple vein feels the necessity to lob disgusting green blobs of swamp muck onto the back and forth tennis court of discourse and the whole game just.

    And wtf?

    I hear and feel you, Dan. I’ve never lay claim to intellectual prowess or conjectured bullshit about my educational shortfalls. If I felt I “could” offer insight to something and I felt the desire, I’d join in. Sometimes, I’ve wound up treading dark water, surrounded by well-read snobmeisters, but mostly, my input is either ignored or I’ll get a PM from someone so we can chat offline. It’s always interesting to learn another viewpoint, as there is zero growth in a bubble. Yet, I never felt denigrated or emotionally castrated by willingly joining into a FB thread.

    Until this year.

    Dan, have we run the gamut of what social media offers? The true face from multiple generations of intellectual derision for being a “college boy” is on display. The academic smarm is thick and heavy with condescension. The mean-spirited have a viable vitriolic vent vehicle.
    Do we walk away entirely?
    Should we swim only on the warm surface waters of dog videos and charming Buddhist meam mantra? Shall we self castigate our innate impulsive desire to engage, as adults, despite “the burned hand teaches best” lessons?

    You and I have blogs. I enjoy yours and I’ve learned a lot of fun stuff from your Hollywood connections and you’ve proffered some thoughtful ideas that made me think. Pushing yourself into deeper and darker waters is what free and open discourse is all about. Please don’t back completely away from FB because of assholishness. You can remain inviolate in your blogosphere, Dan, but I hope you shake this off and come back to stating your opinions with an open mind and heart, regardless.

    When you cut through the emotional noise, this issue is about fear. Maybe not an active fear of being judged, or verbally abused by a moron, but a fear of losing a part of yourself simply in venturing forth. You start to fear the expenditure of energy and the resultant negative balance sheet.

    Fuck fear.

    Dan Wolf, speak your piece and spread the peace.

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