On rescuing my blog from an intellectual black hole
If you are a regular reader of the Mad Sociologist Blog, first and foremost, thank you. You may, however, have noticed a particular trend over the last twelve months. It has been over twelve months since I mentioned–you know who! [note 1]
I wish I could say that this started as a conscious decision. As you can certainly tell from the nature of that last post, I was at wits end with the Orange Don and his followers. To be honest, I still am. I felt that I had nothing more to add to a discourse in which the contrary side was literally defending Nazis. I was tired and I was viscerally hollowed out by all discourse around the President. I couldn’t stomach hearing, saying or even writing his name. And I was done with any kind of discussion with those who might defend the indefensible. So I just stopped talking about him.
Still, this was more a matter of personal animus than it was a policy…until around February or March when I realized, ‘hey! I haven’t used the T-word in I don’t know how long.’ Really. I didn’t know how long. I had to go back and figure it out. November 29th. [note 2]
I noticed a couple of things at that point. First, I think the quality of the content improved. I was able to break away from the gut level rants Twitter Don provokes and focus on issues that I thought were important. Furthermore, I was refocused on the primary goal of MSB, namely to offer perspectives that are not offered in the mainstream discourse and that take a critical look at otherwise common sense notions. It is the greatest task of the MSB to avoid being just another lefty echo chamber on the issues of the day. I want to offer a different take.
Not responding to youknowwho is liberating toward that end. After all, what more can I add? More evidence that the man is incompetent? That he’s corrupt, even criminal? That he’s a liar and a con-man–and a not very good one at that? That he’s a bigot and a misogynist at best, if not a vicious victimizer? Do I have any information or evidence at my disposal in my little home office that others do not? Can I cover the mass of lies and scandals more competently than a whole host of others whose job it is to do so? Do I have a particular frame that might change the nature of the debate in a more sensible direction?
At this point, the answer to the above questions is that I have nothing to add toward such ends. Maybe someday I will. When that happens, I’ll change my policy. Until then, I’ll keep on with my not so humble work on my otherwise humble blog. Those who wish to come along can do so.
Starting about February or March I decided to formalize my internal antipathy into MSB policy. The Mad Sociologist Blog, as of November 29th, 2018, will no longer offer commentary on this particular president. Period. If that’s what you are looking for, thanks for reading, but you will be wasting your time in checking in here.
This does not mean you will not read observations on Administration policy. Indeed, despite leaving youknowwho out of the analysis, I have written and commented on policies coming out of the White House. When I must reference the Orange Don, I use some kind of euphemism, as I’ve done in this piece. I’ll write “The President” or some other designation. Never his name. Furthermore, if I can leave even that much out, I will.
I justify this policy for a few reasons that I feel are sound.
First, I want to stay out of the gravitational well that is the intellectual discourse around this president. Many commentators, Ezra Klein comes to mind most immediately, have pointed out that The Orange Don tends to suck the oxygen out of any conversation having to do with him. Any substantial discourse on executive action quickly devolves into a lamentation on scandals, blatant lies and Tweetstorms. It’s as if he is an intellectual black hole and we are all revolving around him, but nothing of value can escape the blather horizon.
No. That’s not for me. I’m not interested in Tweets or scandals. Frankly, if you can’t see through his lies and scams, there’s nothing that I can do for you. He’s like a bad magician. We are all on to his tricks. They are obvious and poorly executed. Why bother participating?
The next reason has become my mantra whenever his name is invoked. It’s not about the Orange Don! It’s not about him! Nothing is ever about him even though he endeavors to make everything about him. Our current executive is the culmination of deeper socio-cultural pathologies and Machiavellian political intrigues gone horribly awry. To illustrate, the President is that oozing, inflamed pustule that has come to a head atop a larger underlying infection. He’s the discomfort and annoyance that gets the attention. But even if we dissolve him from the discourse, if we do nothing to address the underlying infection, we are just setting ourselves up for another outbreak, another pustule–maybe larger, more infectious.
So it is my policy to focus on the infection pushing the boil. In my mind that infection is complex and multifaceted. First and foremost we have an overall breakdown of values caused by the the contamination of our social institutions by capitalist intrusions. Furthermore, we have the rise of a media saturated social ecosystem for which we are not properly socialized to navigate. The resulting anomie creates uncertainty and instability. Uncertainty and instability feeds our more reactionary drives: bigotry, xenophobia, authoritarianism and entrenched self-interest. These drives reinforce a further degradation of our institutions and value systems, perpetuating a vicious cycle of social decline.
This is not about…him. He’s just an outgrowth of larger forces. He’s just the one riding the wave and stealing the attention, distracting us from the coming tide. If anything, I’m going to attend to the more relevant and interesting phenomena, his followers.
Finally, and this is completely personal, I know that the one thing that He Who Here Goes Unnamed hates the most is…going unnamed. I, therefore, derive great satisfaction in not naming him.
Look, I’m not delusional. It’s not like I believe Twitterman reads the Mad Sociologist Blog…or even reads anything for that matter. I just feel that the more we can turn down the volume on this failed businessman’s only real asset, his name, the better.
As the Mad Sociologist Blog enters its twelfth year in the cyber-verse I will, as always, be evaluating the evolution and direction of this project. The time and energy that I spend on my computer, tapping my keys, producing work that I’m putting out for all of you is something for which I take a great deal of pride and satisfaction. It is also an endeavor that I take very seriously. It’s incumbent upon me to use this time and energy wisely–I have a day job, after all. Spending time on this stronzo, even if he is the President, is a complete waste.
That means, youknowwho will get no fuel from me.
- I did use the word “Trumpism” in the post just after the November 29th piece, but this constitutes a different reference in my mind. You can be the judge. Either way, it’s been over a year since his name was used.
- It should be mentioned that I deliberated on the title of this post for quite some time, up until typing this very sentence as a matter of fact. I recognize the irony of including the President’s name as the title of a post that emphasizes not using his name. I’ve decided to keep the title. After all, if I titled this piece “This is not a post about you know who” you wouldn’t know who. So this title is the sole exception to the policy. Since it’s my policy anyway, and I’m my own boss…there it is.
- I have talked about the President directly and even mentioned his name on social media during this time. If you follow the Journal of a Mad Sociologist Facebook Page, or the Twitter or Instagram feed @madsociologist, then you’ve seen exceptions to the policy. Even here, however, I’ve sharply curtailed my mention of hewhoshouldnotbenamed.