Sectional Healing 5/7: Honey, I Shrunk The Truth
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|May 8, 2020||3|
I had an epiphany this week. It was in regards to why I’m having such a hard time wrapping my head around this pandemic and this season and all the upheaval: it’s not the upheaval itself; it’s the larger realization that we’re all at the mercy of the uncertainty of it all.
I think at this point, we’re all some kind of aware of this tension.
However, there have been vastly different responses to processing this tension. Weirdly the uncertainty has made some people VERY CERTAIN about inherently uncertain things.
Did I use “certain” too much? You’re right. I definitely did. Let me try a different way:
**In a very unsure time, people have found a way to be sure about things that inherently cannot be anticipated.**
But even that almost feels nothingburgerish. LETS DO IT AN EVEN DIFFERENTER WAY.
This idea I’m hinting at gets easier to understand if we look at it through a Honey, I Shrunk The Kids paradigm. The narrative thrust of the movie is that something truly wild has happened: Rick Moranis shrunk them kids. We accept this because it’s a movie, we suspend disbelief, and Rick Moranis definitely looks like someone who would accidentally shrink loved ones.
In this example, the shrinking in the movie is an analogy/metaphor (analophor? metagy?) for our current pandemic.
Both deal with an excruciating sense of uncertainty.
Both deal with tiny particles.
Both deal with a confining of literal and physical worldviews.
The kids in the movie are limited to their homes and yards and they are limited in their ability to fix their situations because they are dependent on others to contend with technology to solve a new problem.
I gotta be honest, before attempting this analogy, I didn’t think there would be that much in common, but HERE WE ARE.
Going back to the original idea here (uncertain times = people get more certain about inherently uncertain things) imagine if in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, one of the shrunken kids said, “This is definitely a hoax, we’re not even that much smaller.”
Imagine if one of the kids said, “This is definitely a conspiracy hatched by the deep state and Bill Gates to take away my teenage liberties.”
Imagine if one of the kids said, “After the weekend, this shrunkenness situation will definitely burn out and we will all return to complete normalcy.”
While all of these reactions would have a moderate sense of understandability given that they are attempts to understand a heretofore inconceivable thing, the certainty these characters would have about why there were teeny-tiny sized now (again, a situation they and no one else had ever experienced before) would feel really weird.
So it stands to reason that these similar reactions to our pandemic makes for an even weirder reality.
I’ve had a really hard to working through my feelings on this because it’s such a weirdo nuanced situation.
On the one hand, here I am, your benevolent author, critiquing the people in our social media feeds that suddenly are experts in epidemiology, political science, constitutional law, economic theory and the biological mechanics of herd immunity.
I need another person with no medical background to speak about herd immunity like I need a DVD of Explicit Geriatric Pornography. In slow motion.
But I also understand this impulse! A vacuum of power and influence and understanding and normality has opened up and we’re filling it the only way we know how; by citing and leveraging the opinions / points of views / expertise of others that casually affirm our suspicions and/or beliefs as a sort of ghost identity for ourselves.
But really, this spontaneous expertise isn’t about pursuing certainty. It’s about the feeling of temporary control that comes with the repetition of information consumption and regurgitation.
On the flip side though, when I emphasize that the only certainty about now and the immediate future is how uncertain both of those things are, I’m kind of just creating a semantics problem because total uncertainty is a kind of certainty right? And yes, I know, I feel like I’m saying the c-word too much. (Not THAT c-word; the certainty one.)
BUT EVEN MORE, when I say that no one knows anything and that everything is uncertain, that’s kind of dangerous because it implies an equality of thoughts and opinions when not all thoughts and opinions are created equal.
Some political leaders are leading and others are failing to lead.
Some doctors have experience, expertise, and scientific analysis and others have the vague, shifting ideology of pseudoscience.
To pretend like everything is nothing isn’t just wrong; it’s dangerous.
To be sure, that doesn’t mean that any one person or entity knows exactly how this is all going to shake out or precisely what the best course of action is. HOWEVER, we have to agree that some people / approaches are better and more appropriate.
And even more, we have to be able to agree on and identify what is actual information and what is misinformation.
I say this because as someone who is easily lured into nihilism and existential dread, I’ve found for myself that I *have* to find and identify truth, or at the very least, the things that are more true than the others. Because if we participate in this idea that nothing is truly true, than anything can become *kind* of true. Again, the most dangerous outcome of all.
Because when you shrink down and diminish the meaning of truth and facts, there’s not a ray gun in the world that will allow us to unshrink that mistake.
***LEGEND FOR UNDERSTAND THE ASTERISKS****
* Fav read of the week
** Second fav read of the week
*** Third fav read of the week