We are, in general, pretty good at knowing when we’re being lied to. Advertising, politicians, announcements on public transport; modern human existence, unfortunately, involves wading through a fair amount of bullshit of one sort or another. But we’ve grown up with it, been molded by it. Particularly in Britain, this has allowed us to become a wonderful, skeptical nation.
Recently, however, like any capitalist product, the bullshit has evolved and the latest model is particularly good. So perhaps because it’s Christmas and perhaps because 2018 has been a year that has left us scraping the barrel for something to believe in, we’ve dropped our guard and bought a little of what we’re being sold.
This clever lie that we’ve been fed is “political correctness gone mad”, that the prospect of an awful leftwing dystopia in which babies are called ‘theybies’, clapping is banned and Santa Claus is gender neutral is just around the corner. This myth has slipped our bullshit radar because each individual element of it is essentially true. Kleenex have recently renamed their ‘Mansize’ product ‘Very Large Tissues’ and Manchester University Union have voted to replace clapping with the British Sign Language equivalent. We have been convinced that these movements are part of a larger PC revolution that will end in the renaming of Manchester and Mansfield and people doing Jazz hands at football matches.
What they represent in reality is an independent marketing decision and a Union vote each designed to promote inclusivity.
We believe the bigger lie because it is wrapped in small unconnected truths that rest on valid evidence. When Piers Morgan invites a ‘feminist’ onto his programme there is a reason he picks someone that believes that holding doors open for women or saying “ladies first” is deeply sexist. He can use this person’s outlandish views to allow himself to play the part of the exasperated interviewer. He can portray himself as fighting for the sanity of the nation. He does this truthfully, the interviewee does genuinely believe what they are preaching. The lie that Morgan is peddling (that we have recently lapped up happily) is that these people represent feminism as a whole and that allows for the whole movement to be discounted.
This includes criticism so fiercely leveled at small issues blown out of proportion with claims they are eroding our national identity. This has particularly been the case recently concerning fictional characters. So often we forget when asserting that James Bond isn’t transgender or that Santa Claus isn’t a woman, neither are real. In the supposed defense of our national icons, we have lost one of our most crucial qualities, the skepticism that we have spent so long learning.
Ultimately the biggest fallacy that surrounds all this, eagerly consumed by everyone, is the suggestion that any of this really matters. It’s as if we all once fell for one of these stories and now we’ve got to keep falling for them until they become what they claim to be. We enforce this clickbait bullshit by following the link every time. In 2019 we need to get a fucking grip and see these stories for what they really are. Not news.
Image Credit: Gastón Mendieta