SPIRITUAL SOAP: If Everyone Can Be "Problematic," Everyone Can Be Controlled
"Problematic" is a more insidious label than it seems.
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I recently had a brush with people trying to use morality to justify their closed minds. It looks like calling things “problematic” and implying that you’re part of the problem for not abstaining from it like they are.
We’ve gotten used to these morality-flavored peer pressure tricks. Everything and everyone has been deemed problematic by now, from our grandparents to our favorite foods. It’s easy to brush off the Problematic Era as yet another weird outcome of social media fusing with naive politics, but it’s a mistake to look away too quickly.
Cultural phenomenons like cancel culture and the problematizing of everything are softer versions of far more sinister patterns.
Most of us have grown thick skins to resist the manipulation tactics deployed when we get caught liking problematic people or things. I’m not phased by it anymore, but I’m also not ready to make amends with how insidious and dangerous the psychology behind labeling people and things “problematic” is.
This audio episode breaks down exactly why it’s anti-intellectual, manipulative, and anti-individual to use the problematic label to control who and what other people engage with.
While this breakdown will speak to what you already know, it will also give you a wider vocabulary and framework for articulating what you know and for pushing back on the “problematic” trap more effectively.
If Everyone Can Be "Problematic," Everyone Can Be Controlled (Preview):
The way we decide what’s “problematic” today shows that we've lost the ability to separate engaging with ideas by an author/thinker and endorsing everything they've ever said and done.
The difference between not being interested in something vs. presenting narrow-mindedness as moral superiority.
Problematic is the politicization of imperfection—and everything is imperfect.
The "problematic" approach of dismissing anything we think is bad or created by bad people is a Trojan horse for mass censorship.
My past knee-jerk rejection of Ayn Rand and how I did exactly what people who call things "problematic" do now—disguised an unwillingness to challenge my views as a moral boycott.
Studying "problematic" things actually makes you more equipped to argue against them and be a better person.
Deeming things "problematic" as a way to dismiss them and shame people who don't follow suit prevents people from expanding their worldview at best or realizing they're actually wrong at worst.