Thursday, July 11, 2013

Positivity/Critical Thinking

Critical, ever critical

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about trolls. Specifically of the internet sort. And thinking about how I shouldn't be thinking about trolls. Because really, critical thinking about issues and articles and soapbox exclamations found on the internet is one thing. But I could go absolutely crazy thinking through the arguments of trolls. Those that do not adhere to any logic of any kind. And here I do not mean a personally determined 'logic' but Logic. As in, informal reasoning. As in, formal symbolic logic. Rhetoric. Those branches of philosophy that predate and form a base for critical thinking, law and the scientific method. Other formalized branches of human knowledge. If everyone debated in this way, there would be no such thing as trolls. Alas.

I've always been pretty critical in my thinking. Okay, perhaps not always. But from early teenagehood onwards. As soon as I had that feeling of the ugliness of the world as fabricated by others grinding with painful cognitive dissonance against the beauty of mine. Hey, I wasn't a perfect child, but I least I looked at the world through rose colored glasses. When those glasses fell off or I took them off or were torn off, I was embittered. What I saw then displeased me.

And sheesh, doesn't it still? Corruption, hypocrisy, and in the end the failure of promising intellectualism and individualism that I held dear earlier in my life. 

Let us take a pause. On Positivity

But thinking about trolls leads me to think about the massive amounts of negativity there is in the world currently. This huge free floating mass of negativity becomes oppressive and soon enough I feel as though my rational, critical thought that, in my mind, counters the ignorance of the trolls is just adding to the negativity in my world. Is it so?

It's not as though I want to accept false premises. It's not as though I want to surrender, just say those folks who are blatantly wrong are right. I do not want to nod in agreement with glossy ladies' magazines or scientific reports that, oh I don't know, illogically twist data to reinforce once again and for the millionth time the deep difference between the genders (I mean, for god's sake! You'd think by now we'd have gotten past that whole five-year-old's phase of 'you're a boy and I'm a girl' observation. Move on, already! There are more important things to research like oh I don't know maybe how to move to a post-scarcity economy so that folks no longer have to harness greed to live their lives? Seriously.) And I never will nod in agreement to such farcical uses of the human intellect and human imagination.

So, what? Can I be positive and critical? Can I contact my friends and put a little love into their lives, can I listen to some fun music and dance wildly in the kitchen and still be an intelligent adult? Can I build my life fun and whimsical brick by colorful and lovely brick and not accept a bunch of mindless nonsense along with it? That's all fine when I'm in my little house, but as soon as I step out my front door or do a little surfing on the information superhighway and all this ridiculousness of other people's idiocy really, really gets to me. Like, is rage-inducing.

If anger is an indicator of the things I don't want in my life, it would seem that I don't want to be a moron. Is that it? Perhaps the key is not to get so mad and just learn from other people's mistakes. But that is more negativity, you see? "I don't want to be like that" when what I am trying for is "I want to be like blankety blank" or rather, "I want my life to be like blankety blank."

Things are never so simple. I had a friend once who was Eastern European. She told me that in North America, she had observed, we want everything to be positive, all of the time. We want everything to be good and everyone to be happy. Then she explained that in the country of her birth, folks were a little more understanding of the full spectrum of human emotion. That there are negatives and positives, darkness and light, and we cannot deny either. To do so is to deny ourselves the experience of being fully human.

So perhaps the key is balance. There will always be negativity in my life. There will be things I dislike, there will always be irrational people arguing about things that don't make sense. And bad drivers (unless we soon get an automated car. Fingers crossed) and bad children and bad parents and impoliteness. I suppose I have to just cherish the positivity where I can find it, when it comes and when it is truly and thoughtfully warranted.