We Need to Stop Being Assholes to Each Other

James Titchener / @mistertitchener

Something's happened. At some point America became the most politicized country in the world. And it's not a good thing.

The social cost of wearing a mask is trivial. Preventing the spread of a deadly virus should be a bipartisan issue. But it isn't. Just about everyone outside the US has gotten the memo... masks work.


So what gives? Why have masks become a uniform for our political team?

Corona is woke af. Red, blue, black or white, corona's gonna to get your ass. So why didn't the pandemic bring us together in a fight against a common enemy? 

Let's take the mask issue to explore this further. Masks became a political mantra almost immediately. But the initial message looked a lot different than it does now.

Don't wear masks STOOPID.

Fast-forward a few months...

Hey. Guys seriously... PUT A MASK ON.

Why the flip-flop? Did the science change?



Here's the question. Were the U.S. Attorney General, CDC and WHO consciously lying to the public? Or are they just bad at their jobs?

Either way, these are institutions that we rely on. Our lives literally depend on these guys getting it right. And they dropped the ball.

They say you shouldn't attribute to malice what can be easily explained by stupidity.

I think in this case it's fair to say the stupid bug got around. It's possible that they were so worried about a shortage of masks for health workers that they lied about the efficacy of masks to the public. But I don't think that's the full story.

The left has gotten scary. One slip up, one insensitive tweet, one bad joke and they unleash the attack dogs. And unlike the right, they attack their own.

And another thing with the left (and the right for that matter)... once they've latched onto an idea, the meme spreads like wildfire.

Definitely just the flu.

Vox (among others) attacked mask-wearing techies for overreacting initially. My guess is that the CDC and WHO didn't want any part of this onslaught.

But there's a cost to getting things wrong. Especially when it's likely you were lying. And especially when you pretend like you were bullish on corona and masks the whole time and villainize anyone that isn't with you.

Is it any wonder that half of America doesn't trust these people? They've given them no reason to. And they definitely haven't given them any reason to like them. And unfortunately in the popularity contest that elects our officials, being likable is really important.

The right now assumes that the noise coming from the left are whiny lies to ignore. Actually more than ignore... they seem to feel motivated to do just the opposite.

Which brings us back to masks. In the left's minds, people who don't wear masks might as well be modern day Nazis. And Trump has gladly taken up position as füher.

Trump understands the divisiveness in America better than anyone. He uses it.

Wear a mask? Me?  Nah. It's not like I'm a 300lb senior citizen.

Trump knows how insufferable the left has become. He's happy to let the lefties go apeshit on Twitter. He's not getting these votes anyway. But he will get the votes from the right and middle who are being further alienated from the increasingly unlikable #fakenews left.

So, how do we get out of this mess? How do we bridge the divide? How can we detach ideas from political identities?

First, we need to stop being assholes to each other.

We're living in our respective bubbles. And from within these bubbles, we're not empathizing with the other side.

It's corny, but at the end of the day, we're just humans. We're monkeys with smartphones who've become deluded into thinking we're rational.

Close to half of Germans in 1933 supported Hitler. Do we really think half of Germany was evil?

Don't attribute to malice what can easily be explained by stupidity.

People are stupid. And not just Trump supporters. As I hope I've made clear, there's a bunch of dummies on the left too. And some of them are running our institutions.

We all do some dumb shit from time to time. While we can take steps to counteract the dumb tendencies of our monkey minds, we need to cut each other a little slack. This isn't to say there shouldn't be repercussions for our stupid actions. We need disincentives. I'll be the first to say that we should U.S. Surgeon General,  and the leaders of the CDC and WHO should be fired immediately. But we shouldn't hate these people.

I think that's the problem. There is genuine hatred on both sides of the aisle. Set us off and we go straight to 100. We have our guns loaded and trigger fingers ready to unload at anything that moves. Taking a beat to make sense of the facts isn't an option when your silence is deafening.

But here's the thing... we didn't choose our side. Did the Nazi supporters of the 20th century pop out of the womb and choose to hate Jews? Not any more than we chose to be born to the parents we were born to. Or to the country, city or time period we were born into. And did we choose our genetic predispositions? No? Well, if we're combination of the experiences we've had and the genes we  were born with, how much control do we really have?

Now that's a fascist baby if I've ever seen one.

One might counter by saying, I may not have been fully in control of the environment I was born into, but I was in control of my actions within it.

But this just can't be true. Even if we had control over our own thoughts (we don't), we're still victims of all the moments prior and genetic makeup that makes us who we are.

My dissenter might continue, even if free-will is an illusion, I still have a right to be angry.

Sure. We can all be angry. No one should go to jail for having a human emotion. But is anger the best place to operate from? Do we want our decision makers to be angry? How about the scientists working to find a vaccine? Do we want them shaking in their white coats as they smash vials against the walls of their labs screaming, IF ONLY THESE GODDAMN TRUMPERS WOULD PUT A F*!@KING MASK ON.

I'll go out on a limb and say that I'd prefer our scientists had their wits about them. Same to the CDC, WHO and U.S. Attorney General.

Why wouldn't the same apply to us? Is anger and hatred really a necessary ingredient for action? Anger might act as useful kindling, but once we notice something we don't like, we needn't be angry for a moment longer.  How useful is it to hate a stove for burning your hand when you touch it? Not very. Stoves get hot. That's what stoves do. People do dumb shit. That's what we do.

Let's not get mad at the stove. Let's idiot-proof it so we don't get burnt again.

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