Out Of Touch

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019-03-12 12:00:00 No comments

The other week, I found out what "hopepunk" was. Emphasis on the past tense. Apparently it had already stopped being a thing by the time I found out it had ever been a thing in the first place.

I don't have a hard opinion about it one way or another, if only because I'm not even sure it's a thing apart from the label itself. My interest in the phenomenon is mostly as a phenomenon — as something that comes along, draws some attention, and then either fades into the background or vanishes entirely. I'm not even sure it was something I needed to have an opinion about, and that's the whole reason I bring it up — because I feel the number of things we need to have an opinion about right now is not as large as it might seem.

One of the reasons I don't make a whole lot of effort to keep up with this kind of zeitgeistitude is because I get carpet-bombed by the zeitgeist without even trying. ("The world crashes in, into my living room," said the Talking Heads in, what, 1986?) I end up knowing about a lot of stuff without trying, because that's modern life for you.

Sometimes I'm motivated to speak up, or out, about some of it. I spent part of this morning leaving messages for my congressmen. But I don't make a habit out of trying to become self-consciously outspoken about everything that crosses my desk, because that's a recipe for paralysis.

I want to distinguish this behavior from, say, condescension towards others for bothering to care, or calculated ignorance about the world. I don't think other people are foolish for bothering to care about the things they do. Some of them are in a position where they may be the only people who can care about a given something. I help them where I can. And pretending the problems of the world don't or can't touch you is foolishness; you're part of this world whether you like it or not, so you might as well greet the rest of it with humility and dignity.

What I'm against is the idea that we must have a stance on something that we might have only found out about five minutes ago. It's an impossible standard to live up to, and a cruel one to demand of others. Or of yourself.

This is not an excuse for not caring, but a way to modulate what you care about so that you don't end up burning out. Things move so fast you're best off trying to care most deeply about things that can't go anywhere because they are so deeply entrenched: systematic injustices of one kind or another, for instance. But you're not going to get anywhere comparing how deep your caring is vs. someone else's caring. All that does is leave you feeling like either you or they don't measure up, and that solves nothing.

Tags: society sociology