Trending Into Confusion

posted in: Identity, Significance, Truth | 2

I admit it; I am confused.

“It’s okay,” we are told, “for Bruce Jenner to identify as a woman because “he” is really a she trapped in a man’s body.”

How we handle the ramifications, I’m not exactly sure. If a group of teenage boys, for example, decide that they want to identify as female, should we allow them to participate on female sports teams? Should they be welcomed to shower in the girls’ locker rooms? Hmmm.

I suppose that such difficult questions are a necessary consequence of self-actualization. We must understand, I suppose, that recent trends in how we view sexuality are leading the forward progress of our society, and so growth pains are to be expected.

A Double Standard?

More recently, Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, was compelled (by intense criticism) to resign because she is actually white. Evidently, it’s not okay for a white person to identify as black. Why? Because she’s white and not black.

Oh, of course. Makes perfect sense. I think. Well, not really. That’s why I’m confused.

If it’s acceptable for a man to self-identify as a woman, why can’t a white self-identify as black? Or an Italian identify as Chinese? What should it matter how any of us identify ourselves? After all, people who are in debt often pretend to be wealthy—although the ruse generally doesn’t last all that long.

Our problem, you see, is that what is, and is not, okay no longer has anything to do with truth and reality, but with whatever happens to be trending in the world of public opinion. And right now, public opinion is trending against Rachel Dolezal.

But if being black is a white woman’s truth, who are we to argue?

It’s All about Media Manipulation

The real problem for Rachel Dolezal is that she doesn’t have an effective PR campaign. I would advise her to assemble a skilled team to infiltrate every influential sector of society in an effort to champion her cause. Her message of black self-identification needs to get into the schools, the courts, and the mainstream media.

Will people oppose her? Without a doubt. But a skilled public relations team will demonize their opponents by creating negative stereotypes—you know, the way that conservative Christians have been cast as uncaring, old-fashioned, and ignorant bigots whose very existence is detrimental to a healthy society.

With twenty or thirty years of skillful and persistent effort, public opinion will have shifted, and Rachel’s doubters will be called haters. She can then reapply for the Spokane NAACP president’s position. If she doesn’t live that long, she will have bravely paved the way for the next generation of whites to self-identify as black.

Descending into Confusion

Does it make sense for Rachel to champion her racial identification cause? No. But what does that matter? Nor should we care if her cause is right or wrong. What matters is public opinion, and if she can manage to shift the Twitter trends in her favor, we’ll all have the freedom to one day self-identify however we want. (I’ll be in my eighties by then, so I’d hope to identify as a twenty-year-old model sporting a chiseled chin and six-pack abs.)

Can you see it? As a culture, we have lost our moorings and are trending—or is it descending?—into confusion. If our standards are rooted in nothing more than the currently trending public opinion, those standards are ripe for manipulation. Media has long been used to manipulate feelings and emotions to a desired end.

Am I a conspiracy theorist? No; just an observant realist.

Have you ever been to a movie in which the audience cheered wildly as the despised villain finally got his due? It’s by design. Movies are intentionally designed to lead viewers through a series of emotions in order to draw the crowd into the experience.

Something similar holds true for any attempt to shift public opinion. Our societal standards then become what small groups of influential people in isolated board rooms decide they should be. Unfortunately for us, those standards don’t always make sense, nor do they better our society. American opinion is being manipulated like Play-Doh, and most of us remain unawares.

The biggest losers are our children—especially those who lack a clear sense of identity due to family dysfunction. If we truly care about people and want to cure the ills of our society, we need a source of truth that transcends public opinion. And joining the “what’s trending?” bandwagon is the worst place to start.

original photo credit: Elevation Graph of the Hurricane Ridge Bomb in Port Angeles via photopin (license)

2 Responses

  1. Jason

    Could the same be said for religion as a form of media? Certainly, there is a strong history of religion being used to influence public opinion–for good and bad. It is entirely possible that conservative and liberal Christianity are really just manufactured ideas in order to divide (and conquer) the church.

  2. Bob

    Jason, religion has long been used as a tool to manipulate and control people. That’s one thing I love about God’s version of Christianity. He gives us the freedom to even be wrong.

    As far as the conservative/liberal divide, there is generally s a difference of perspective but no doubt the labels have been used destructively – and to raise funds.

    Your comments are thought provoking as always. 🙂