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The “Everything is X” Trap 2.0: Between Fear and Optimism

Written by MigsDC

Last time, I brought up the “Everything is X” trap and its accompanying baggage, as well as why it’s important to not repeat history. It stirred some discussion among those fighting against censorship and unwanted politicization, though some of the rebuttals were not too surprising. It’s not hard to see how addressing this could be perceived at best as irrelevant. Or at worst, be seen as cowardice or underestimating the enemy.

The fears and concerns brought up are certainly justified. They didn’t come out of nowhere, especially in light SJWs and activists trying to silence or ruin people for expressing views not in line with their brand of “politics.” Meanwhile, attempts to push ideological grandstanding in films, comics and video games, often to the detriment of actual quality or entertainment, are met with applause and signal boosting by the same SJWs that condemn those asking for apolitical media. With such issues in mind cynicism, especially among those who’ve been in the fight for years, can come off as warranted. Yet I would wager that now’s as good a time as any to be aware of that trap and the mindsets underpinning it, if we want to avoid repeating history.

To be sure, this isn’t necessarily a case of invoking horseshoe theory. Some would argue that, at least on a “Left vs. Right” perspective, the risk of being like the other side is akin a false equivalency, whether due to demographics or divergent ideological stances. After all, at least one side isn’t silencing anyone, let alone destroying livelihoods for expressing political views not their own. Others, meanwhile, perceive the current situation as so severe and asymmetrical that there’s little room for such seeming platitudes or reaching out to people who would rather silence you, with all the well poisoning. Put it another way, in the culture war, you either play to win or lose everything. And while I don’t fully agree, neither are they exactly wrong, either.

All the same, that doesn’t make the “Everything is X” trap or its baggage any less infectious. As high as the stakes may be, it’s all too easy to slide into a similar cynical mentality of seeing taint everywhere or treating those with differing views with disdain, if not hostility, by default. It’s likewise tempting to let every bit of negative news gnaw at you while downplaying, if not brushing aside, any shred of optimism, whether it’s success stories from various creators despite attacks thrown their way or the growing trend of media outlets like Vice and what’s left of Gawker running on life support. It’s not a stretch, then to see how this can lead to embracing an almost Spenglerian “Decline of the West” rhetoric in emphasizing just how dire the situation is. Or, in more extreme cases, lead to proverbial “blackpills” that either cultivate apathy or make people even more susceptible to the trap.

I suppose there’s something in human nature that makes one more inclined towards pessimism or to put more emphasis on the “worst” part in the old proverb “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” Yet winning the culture war wouldn’t mean much if fighting it cultivates a self-fulfilling prophecy in the process. With people ending up too bitter and jaded to even appreciate victory, let alone what was fought for. Hence why it would still pay well in the long run to support alternatives and/or sympathetic creators. To not let the raving censors and activists dissuade from engaging or befriending people of different views. Or really, to not let fear and cynicism get the better of you. I implore you to take a moment to sit back, enjoying what’s worth fighting for, and try to find some joy. We’d all be better for it. As always. feel free to comment, like, share, tweet, or whatever other thing you kids do on your social media these days.

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