When the line between truth and satire doesn’t exist anymore…


We now interrupt this blog about writing to bring you an opinion piece on the state of writing the news, with a large helping of exhaustion and a sprinkle of despair.

Today I read an article from the New Yorker called “Many in Nation Tired of Explaining Things to Idiots.” And boy, does it resonate that many people are exhausted from trying to explain things that seem obvious to those who don’t want to listen.

But it struck me how exactly this sounded like an Onion article, and made me wonder. When someone says something racist, it’s important to say to them, “That was racist, because…” or “That was racist, and instead…” because if you say, “You’re racist,” then that gets them off the hook for changing.

After all, if a person is racist (sexist, homophobic, a bad person, a troll….an idiot….) then the implication is that that’s part of who they are, so what can they be expected to do about it? It’s both a helpless way of looking at it and a way to get out of doing the hard work to recognize what a person should and can change about themselves, how they can do better.

So while I completely agree with the findings of the study, that many people are exhausted from fighting to get things with overwhelming evidence or agreement to be accepted by the naysayers as ACTUALLY TRUE….

And while I think it’s great that all the satire-ish news sources are actually getting real news into people’s heads…

I wonder if this has somehow caused the original reporting style to be satirized, to its detriment. I realize this is in the New Yorker’s “humor” section, but it’s reporting a real problem. How do we deal with people who refuse to believe climate change is affecting our world and that we have the power and responsibility to try to mitigate it, for example? That, in fact, even if the scientific community did NOT overwhelmingly support this conclusion, the basic truth is that if humans do nothing, and that turns out to be the wrong choice, the results could be devastating? Whereas if we try, and it turns out we didn’t need to, there may be economic damages, there may be damages, but they are much less likely to affect all humanity and all the world, and they’re not even guaranteed? You know? I don’t know.

This is something worth talking about. And I don’t want to constantly police language. I just wonder how to reach people who won’t hear truth or sense when there’s overwhelming evidence for it…and I have a feeling that calling them idiots won’t help…but maybe they’re unreachable. I don’t know. It makes me sad to think of these people and their lives. They must be so angry and hurt.

I don’t want to put their problems before everyone else’s, especially as they tend to be overwhelmingly privileged in a lot of ways (White Western Christian males, is what I’m thinking of here)…but I don’t know how to deal with them. And I’m exhausted.

Maybe that does deserve a little name-calling. But I’m exhausted of that, too. I just want solutions.

Any ideas?



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