One thing I’ve discovered about coronavirus lockdown is that I’m only having proper conversations with one person. Thankfully my girlfriend is a fun person to have conversations and debates with, and it’s good to drill down into interesting topics to uncover what we really think or feel about a subject, and how it might change us.
Previously I’d have similar conversations with other people when hanging out in person, but now that in-person meetings aren’t happening, one-on-one skype/facetime/zoom chats have to take their place, and those are more likely personal or social calls, not opportunities to do a deep dive into a difficult topic.
The only other option now is social media and forums like this, but I’m not sure it’s possible to have a conversation exploring the nuances of any topic in any such place online.
It comes down to this formula:
“Nuance is impossible when someone inserts 0% or 100% into their statement”
For example, saying “all lives matter” means that the person is removing themselves from the conversation. They have nothing of value to add due to them denying nuance. The word “all” can be converted into “100%”. This is why cartoonists can poke fun at the statement with houses on fire, of which I’ve seen many variations:
The nuance of “black lives matter” comes from the fact there is a cutoff point between 0% and 100%, and people want to address something on one side of that line rather than including everything all at the same time.
Nuance exists in where a line is drawn, why the line is drawn at that place, what falls either side of the line, and what makes those things interesting or worthy of drawing the line in the first place.
It might seem like I’m unhappy that I can’t have conversations with people who deny nuance exists. That’s not true!
If someone denies nuance in a topic of conversation, I’m not interested in having a conversation with that person at all.
My problem arises in the fact that when trying to have a conversation with any nuance, the people who deny nuance exists will overwhelm the people having the conversation with continuous statements about how nuance doesn’t exist.
When the conversation begins, or even before the conversation begins and someone is just looking for someone to have a conversation with, the main response they have to deal with is:
“You want to talk about the line that falls somewhere between 0% and 100%, but it is ALWAYS 100%!!!”
But they don’t understand that while they don’t see the nuance, or nuance isn’t important to them right now, someone else finds that nuance interesting enough to talk about, and wants to talk about it.
It becomes impossible to have a conversation without always continually responding to, or having to read through, floods of nuance denial or nuance dismissal.
Of course, I’m using “impossible” and “always” deliberately here. I’ve inserted some “0%” and “100%” for hyperbolic effect. I’m trying to get across how it feels, and making claims to extremes is how to make others take your point seriously. In fact, it’s the ONLY way to make ALL the people who deny nuance understand ANYTHING.
However, this feeling of dread is enough for me to not even attempt such conversations. It’s enough that when I see a conversation or topic come up, I don’t even acknowledge it. I become indistinguishable from those who don’t acknowledge the nuance and also don’t join in, so the person who wanted the conversation doesn’t even know there are others that are interested in that nuance.
And all that’s among people with whom I’m in agreement 99% of the time! With whom I agree on the best course of action, and which side of the broad picture is correct! Those who I agree with 99% of the time on a topic are probably going to be the most interesting people to talk with about that last 1%. But that nuance is unavailable, and I feel diminished, and I feel the world is diminished.
So I’ve started this thread, not to have nuanced conversations on this forum, but to talk about how difficult it is to have nuanced conversations online, both on social media and this forum.
Also I’ll share some conversation topics I’d like discuss online, but won’t ever discuss online, and the reasons I won’t have those conversations online.
Finally I might share some conversations that I don’t want to have myself, but I want to see other (more knowledgeable/important) people discuss, but I don’t see those conversations happening due to those people also not wanting to deal with barrages of nuance-free conversation-halting comments.