Saturday, March 26, 2011

I am a Vulcan. I am a Vulcan!

Internet dude (it's always a dude): Here are some statements. I am making them using dry intellectual language and declarative sentences, so I am logical. Therefore, this offensive conclusion I just made is the correct one.

Internet veteran: Oh, not these logic assholes again.

Person with a dog in this fight: Fuck you. That's not true and you know it!

ID: Of course it's true. I made statements in a logical manner, which means they are facts, whereas you used profanity and an exclamation point, which means you are overemotional and therefore incorrect.

IV: (sighs) Facts? Really? Links, please.

PWDIF: Damn right I'm emotional. Here is a personal account of how some douchecanoe who held that same opinion you're spouting fucked up my life and/or the lives of people I care about.

ID: Anecdote =/= data. I will not deign to respond to you. And I don't need links. My statements are pretentiously worded so they are facts. Did you not get that?

IV: Links or it didn't happen.

ID: Fine. Here is a link to a pretentiously worded opinion article and/or blog post by a pretentious dude I agree with. Also here is a half-assed study from a dubious source that's only tangentially related to my point.

IV: Well, then, it's good that I have this blog post that summarizes the issue and provides multiple links to multiple well-designed legitimate published studies that refute your point.

ID:. That blog post is biased and all the studies listed on it are biased and unscientific. All the journalst that published those studies are biased and unscientific. Everyone who disagrees with me is biased and unscientific. I am not biased. I am perfectly logical. Perfectly logical. Perfectly logical.

PWDIF: Yeah, that's what Spock used to repeat to himself to keep from totally flipping out.

ID: You're not a straight white male nerd! Only straight white male nerds can talk about Star Trek! Everyone who's not a straight white male nerd is irrational and everything they say is wrong because they speak colloquially and use exclamation points and sometimes call on people to have empathy, which is an emotion, so I do not have it and no one else should either! Ayn Rand! Meritocracy! Survival of the fittest!

IV: I am picking up some punctuational drama happening here.

ID: I! Do! Not! Use! Exclamation! Points! And here is a long angry rant to prove it! Except it's not angry, it's calm and logical, you're just too stupid to see that! And now I have talked the most, so I win!

IV: Suuuure. (Backs away slowly)


If "logic" means "using rules of thinking to proceed from a premise to a conclusion", these dudes are logical, sure - their premise is flawed, their rules are flawed, and their conclusions are therefore wrong. Logic only works if your input is valid and your system is valid. Otherwise, garbage in, garbage out.

But to come to a valid conclusion you need the ability to detect, using context, what you can and can't take as a given - the ability to smell smoke, change your methods when necessary, detect problems in the early stages before they blow up in your face, know when to throw everything out and start over. You can't rule out sources of context like emotion and personal experience that are an intrinsic and essential part of how human beings make judgments.

The highest faculty of the human mind isn't logic. It's reason. Logic is just a component of reason. If you act like it's the end-all and be-all, you're being the program, not the programmer. Even Spock figured that out in the end.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The examined life, or youngish woman talking about herself

So pushing two years after that last post, and guess what jeans I am wearing today? That are way more comfortable than I thought they were and look great with boots?

Don't laugh. At least they're pants.

Why start blogging now, after starting this thing with the best of intentions and then not touching it for nearly two years? Truth is, I did start. I just deleted everything I wrote. I'd let it sit there for a day or two, smug in my knowledge that no one would actually read it but they could if they wanted to, and one night I'd wake up in a cold sweat with visions of trolls and anti-trolls dancing in my head and take the post down. (You know the anti-trolls. They're the ones who start their comments with "HOW DARE YOU." The ones who are so painfully earnest, so enragedly dedicated in their defense of a perfectly valid point, that they don't realize they've become what they hate. I, of course, have never done this, and anyone who disagrees is a heartless monster who deserves what they get.)

Meanwhile, everyone around me is oversharing - my husband's video game blog, my best friend's Facebook obsession, my twentysomething coworkers tweeting what they had for lunch, as if they won't be able to digest it until everyone is aware that they ate it. I cringe from this stuff. I'm an introvert, almost painfully so, and I live in fear of a reputation economy like in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, because if how much people like you determines your worth, I will be living penniless in an unfurnished cell and even the elevators won't stop for me. And it's not that I'm not likable. I'm pretty cool when I'm not on my guard - I'm just on my guard all the time. Because I believe, deep down, that no one wants to hear what I have to say.

Well, fuck that. I have needs, too. I want in on the overshare. Perhaps it'll help me barrel past this social anxiety. (See? Already oversharing! Whee! I've been wearing these pants for two days and I'm gonna wear them tomorrow too! All I have on my iPod is synthpop and the Indigo Girls! This is fun!)

So you're gonna read my blog and you're gonna like it. Because it's the Internet and even the shittiest piece of puerile crap has people who think it's great. Case in point: