And that’s been one of my main points over the last few months: the injustice of imposing generalised theories on the lives, thoughts and feelings of individuals to dismiss and devalue them in person, in face to face (or, rather, screen to screen) debate.
I like to down-play the degree the internet, and especially social media, may have changed human life, even human nature, because I hate the idea of it. Perhaps, however, this new way of living accounts for the strange change in how we think and conduct our affairs. People seem perfectly happy to promote a fundamental contradiction. Above all things, they value the individual, living in an equal, plural society. They honour and celebrate the vivid, varied, lived experience of consciousness. Yet to support this, they employ averages and aggregates, abstracted trends and tendencies that do not correspond with anybody’s lived experience and yet are used to undermine and deride.
Kate Muir’s menopause article was relatively light-hearted, but any campaign that is “confrontational”, is confronting people, either blaming them for your problem, or accusing them of having it easy.
But it is very unlikely to be the fault of the person you are confronting, and they won’t be luxuriating in their advantages. People don’t experience privilege. Instead, they simply don’t experience your particular disadvantage. It’s an absence, and absences are inferred not experienced. And that absence will be very quickly filled by some other anxiety not by the sunshine of euphoric happiness. Because everyone suffers. Not equally, perhaps, but uniquely. And what you are going through right now will always pre-occupy you more than a vague awareness of absence. It would be impossible to always bear in mind the infinite number of ways we aren’t suffering.
It seems unfair, then, to get all blamey and martyred on these issues. We should be building consensus for change, not turning people against each other, dividing our communities into different factions and accusing other groups of having it easy. What is an accusation of “White Privilege” other than an expression of misanthropic envy that belittles us all?
We are setting members of our communities against each other, and, if we are to change the world, we need to work together.