Politisplaining, Alt-Rightsplaining & Mediasplaining

Because mensplaining and womensplaining are old hat — sexism, like racism and other type of bigotry, is apparently mainstream again — I figured I’d introduce the new concepts that I think are (unfortunately!) going to be all the rage in 2017: politisplaining, alt-rightsplaining and mediasplaining.

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“Activism, slacktivisim, borderline fascist rhetoric…”

WARNING: Very long rambling post – click away now if you can’t handle reading anything longer than the average tweet or Facebook status update. For a TL;DR version: read only the bits in bold text.

Dear people who think their high horses could ever be any higher than mine,

Assuming that people overlaying their social media profile pictures on with French flags do not care about Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Afghanis or goodness knows whoever else is perhaps a shortsighted observation. Just because people select one, that doesn’t mean they don’t care about the other.

Just because people’s profile pictures on social media featured green overlays some years ago, that didn’t mean they cared only about Iranians’ democratic rights.

Just because people’s pictures featured rainbow overlays a few months ago, that didn’t mean they stopped caring about fellow human beings that are heterosexual, bisexual or asexual.

Just because some people don’t wear a poppy early November nor feature one on their online profile pictures, that does not mean they do not care about war veterans.

Just because some people do wear a poppy early November or feature one on their online profile pictures, that does not mean they are proponents of war.

Just because some people display yellow ribbons to point out their own or their loved ones’ endometriosis, that isn’t to say they don’t care about AIDS; just because some choose red ribbons, that doesn’t mean they care about AIDS but not about cancer; just because some go for pink ribbons, that doesn’t mean they wish to convey a message that breast cancer is worse than testicular cancer… I could go on.

I don’t take offence to anyone changing their profile picture to feature a Tricolore overlay, nor do I take offence to Facebook offering you the opportunity to do so within a few simple clicks, however I do take issue with those claiming (or feigning) offence at people doing so or at Facebook offering that opportunity, and then substantiate their (faux) outrage that with the shortsighted narrative that those people and/or the powers that be at Facebook “don’t care about” whatever the country, cause or people that feature higher on their own agendas than the victims of the attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015.

“Activism, slacktivisim, borderline fascist rhetoric…” could be the start of a new rhyme of sorts, like the jokes begin “An X, Y and Z walk into a bar…” whereby the X, Y and Z are replaced with people or other creatures of different races or creeds. But I am not that creative and it would probably be as lame as most of those jokes anyway.

My point is: You are not a better or nicer person for pointing out ‘other’ or ‘worse’ ills in the world to someone expressing public sorrow for any particular cause or event. Not everything is formulaic, let alone binary.

Moreover, whatever you are seen to do or not do can make you look like a nice person or not but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are the kind of person that you are trying to appear as or that people perceive you to be.

Whatever your grounds are for having a flag, overlay, badge, ribbon or whatever on your profile or not… they are yours, however deep or shallow.

Up till now I’ve only ever used the term slacktivism in a derogatory sense, because personally I don’t believe picture overlays, ribbons, pins or wristbands can make a world of difference. Today found a new appreciation for it:

When something bad happens beyond our control and we cannot undo it, or when none of us seems to be able to stop our own or other people’s loved ones from suffering or dying, slacktivism seems the best and at times only way to convey to the world: “I don’t quite know the right words to say or the appropriate thing to do, but I am thinking about this” or merely “I feel therefore I am”. Situations in which we are powerless do not mandate we keep our silence.

I still think that slacktivism won’t make any difference, but I get that it’s not entirely meaningless. And I also suspect there will be plenty of people not putting much thought behind their slacktivism, or at least not as much as I give them credit for above. But there is no need to attack anyone for publicly expressing their sentiments about one thing and not about another. Silence does not by default equal indifference.

Stay safe and seek substance.

Yours self-righteously,

Jo

No one said we should give up on cancer

A blog post by Richard Smith on the website of the British Medical Journal is currently causing quite a stir, mostly among people who have probably not even read it. Somewhere someone glossed over Smith’s blog, spotted the words “let’s stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer”, pulled them out of context and turned them into a spectacular headline. Newspaper and website editors and radio producers across the globe picked up on it and (faux mass) outrage among the people followed.

But did anyone remember visiting a website that looked like the one pictured below? No? Let me fill you in: it’s the original piece.

Richard Smith: Dying of cancer is the best death

There’s so much misinterpretation of this blog across mainstream media, it’s stunning.
So please, read the original, not the clickbait. Richard Smith did not write: “let’s give up on cancer” or “cancer is great”, nor did he write “let’s stop spending money on researching possible cures for cancers,” yet that’s how his words are being explained across so many media outlets and in turn upsetting people.

If you’re one of the outraged, please untwist your knickers already, because Richard Smith never wrote anything particularly outrageous – lazy editors did.

Every year, billions of dollars, pounds, euros and other currencies are spent on treating people with cancer. Some (probably many) people will be cured, while others will at least have their lives prolonged to achieve some more milestones in life, like watching their children grow up a little while longer. 

For many, and this is the taboo Mr Smith touches on, their cancer treatment will involve gruelling treatments that are no better or worse than the original symptoms from cancer, and these people will not be cured at the end of it, they will merely have their overall suffering prolonged.

You may believe that one should try everything and anything in an attempt to cure someone’s cancer, that the suffering on the way there will be worth it and that even if there’s only a tiny chance of survival, you should grab that opportunity at all cost.

Or you may believe that, on at least some occasions, it might be better to treat just the symptoms and make the patient comfortable until his or her death from the cancer.

From both personal and professional experience I know there are patients who favour the latter, with oncologists who insist on the former. Those patients then have to almost go into battle with their oncologists, because while they are perfectly in their rights to refuse the cancer treatment, they then don’t get the palliative care that would benefit them.

Most patients, however, will blindly follow their oncologists’ advice and if those oncologists are indeed ambitious this will then mean gruelling treatment after treatment in trying to cure their cancer, when they might be better off with palliative care.

That is indeed wasting billions trying to cure cancer while in fact leading patients to a more horrible death. And I do agree we should stop doing that. That’s not calling for pulling any plugs on cancer research, it’s calling for more human care. Is that so outrageous?

Peaches in blood: A recipe for cash

Amy Winehouse. Addict. Dead. Tragic.

Peaches Geldof. Addict. Dead. Tragic.

Pete Doherty. Addict. Not (yet?) dead.

And alive enough to prove the cliche that f***ed up junkies would prostitute their own mother if that could pay for their next fix.

Peaches in blood

There is no knowing who wrote her name and number in blood, but the person named isn’t here to confirm or deny. How very convenient when you’ve got something to sell.

I’m calling bullsh!t on this one.

Anyone who’s ever dealt with addiction (either being addicted themselves or living with someone who is/was) knows how addicts will use, abuse and manipulate anything to serve their purpose. It’s the a$$holery that comes with addiction.

Tragic? Nah. Sick.

Rejoice! – Oh no, better not…

Once the news of the birth of the royal baby broke last night, it didn’t take long for the miserable folks to come out of the woodwork. Because people are dying or fleeing in Syria. Because thousands of babies are born in the United Kingdom each day, many of whom may grow up in poverty. Which is all true, but does that mean no one should be allowed to rejoice the birth of a baby who may grow up to become king one day?

If the monarchy is the problem, let’s have a referendum tomorrow, and if a majority of the people prefers the republic we’ll go ahead with that and this newborn baby will indeed be no more special than any other. There will still be babies born to grow up in poverty, though. Just like Carl Froome won the Tour de France the other day, yet there are still homeless people sleeping in shop doorways, so I hope you didn’t celebrate. And Andy Murray won Wimbledon, but there are still people having to escape wars into far-away refugee camps, so let’s not rejoice. When the British & Irish Lions won the 2013 Tour the other day, while millions of people were (and are) out of work, don’t tell me you had a party after that victory. Let’s not even begin to plan festivities if (or should I say when) England’s cricketers win the Ashes shortly, because there are still people relying on foodbanks, don’t you know.

So let’s not ever be joyous, ever, shall we, over something that doesn’t matter, something that doesn’t profoundly changes people’s life, okay? Apparently, that’s what some people think, judging by their comments online. And while my previous paragraph here may sound ridiculous, nothing was quite as ridiculous as the responses I got from those people when I confronted the unpleasantness of them lashing out at the birth of a baby: I’ve been called a stupid wench (mirror here), shallow, dim (mirror here)… but no one’s come up with a solid reason about what’s so wrong about people being happy about something, even while bad things happen elsewhere.

I am not even asking people to become royalist or patriotist, hell, I’m not even British. All I’m saying is, that in the perspective of all that’s bad, wrong and horrible on this planet… there may still be things worth celebrating, and people damn well should be happy about those if they feel like it! If that’s not allowed, let’s take the few old TVs attached to generators away from the slums, so people there wallow in their misery a bit more and harder, rather than watch sports on the blower. Let’s not treat ourselves to dinners restaurants while there are people starving. Let’s not buy each other presents when that money is better spent on foodbank donations. Is that the way we want things to go? Really?

For all the misery in this world, good things still happen, and however menial or unimportant those events might seem to others, what’s so bad about people rejoicing for a moment, if only to take their minds off everything that doesn’t look like or smell of roses, be it in their own lives or those of the world population at large?