Let’s talk about consent as an advanced interpersonal communications tool.

The concept of consent is critical to a vibrant society. It is often referenced in sexual assault, but it absolutely is not limited to that.

For example, and drawing from personal experiences, when you do not consent to another person’s personal space, the flow of conversation shuts down, and no one is able to learn anything from one another. Also, you are unable to form the bonds of friendship that are critical to your support structure if you fall between the cracks and cannot get back up by yourself.

And our addiction to public shaming generally intrudes loudly on a person’s personal space without their consent and bludgeons them into silence, even when they have helpful perspectives and ideas to contribute. Public shaming is extremely unhelpful in that regard, and it has been unhelpfully amplified by the information age and social media.

Combine that with the fact that you know people personally on Facebook, and something like politics that has high personal and societal stakes. Facebook’s fundamental business model just cannot consent to basic principles of privacy such as the ability to have anonymity, and the pressure is just a time bomb waiting to go off.

And that is why I found the general election on Facebook to be insufferable to the point where I was team nope the hell out of here and turn to my own personal coalition of reason: Propublica and John Oliver, people who celebrate long-form investigative journalism that shines a flashlight of justice on the powerful abusing the powerless and getting away with it (and that 1st amendment is under serious assault by Donald Trump, who is grabbing the 1st amendment by the pussy without the consent of just about any American!)

To paraphrase Jon Stewart’s philosophy: we live in an age of bullshit mountain, where the problem is not insurmountable, and some core issues are important, but not urgent right now (i.e. climate change). However, we live in a society where the amplification is all wrong and needs serious prioritization.

We live in a society where the problems are amplified (which increases the stakes that makes free flow of conversation so difficult), and yet the solutions and ideas are publicly judged to the point that they become an endangered species. Under this environment, the coalition of reason is very weak. In short, right now our core crisis is that we face a deficiency in our problem-solving mechanisms.

And this includes ways organized people are so powerful: the intense public shaming of politicians. If powerful groups of organized people are shouting in megaphones, slut shaming solutions, and making it impossible for politicians to reach across the aisle without electoral backlash, compromise disappears and record polarization is inevitable.

It has literally not been this polarized since the eve of the civil war, where we had to grapple with the fact that literally the most powerful form of labor exploitation, slavery, subjugated an entire group of people and silenced their dissent, their rights, and their ability to consent, and the conditions were in place for the union to channel the sheer moral outrage of this arrangement.

So we need to call it for what it is: bullshit mountain. Call out bullshit when you see it! Find ways together so that we can aggressively remove bullshit from society. Be very team anti-bullshit.

Because I sincerely believe at least this, on the subject of bullshit: you are either with us, or you are against us.


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