My close friends know that I am deathly allergic to politics. I hate thinking about them, I hate talking about them, and I go out of my way to neutralize any conversation that veers towards them. Why? Because I refuse to waste my time hurling logic darts at bubbles of bias. I have absolutely no desire to converse with anyone who regurgitates soundbites in lieu of nuanced debate. I would much rather discuss the philosophical meanings behind the latest episode of Rick and Morty.
Inevitably, this poses a thorny question that I am forced to answer from time to time: “So, what are you?” It’s a difficult question to answer, mostly because I do not identify with any political group, nor do I fit under any umbrella of thought. To me, blanket views are intellectually lazy. Blind adherence to predefined principles will always hinder people from properly informing themselves. Nothing is black and white. Everyone can be right and wrong to varying degrees. Ergo, I cannot accept political opinions at face value.
To put it another way: I am not a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or anything else with a capital letter. I am not a liberal, conservative, right-wing lunatic, or leftist snowflake. I do not champion causes, nor am I out for social justice.
Basically, I am a fierce non-participant who wants to be left alone.
Upon this reveal, anyone with a political pulse will hammer back with a canned retort on why it’s my duty to engage, to partake, to enact meaningful change. I understand the impulse, but they are barking up the wrong tree. People are passionate about their beliefs, be them social, political, religious, or whatever. But, therein lies the impasse. I will never use the term “belief” to make a point. The second you prefix any statement with “I believe,” I tune out and go to my happy place. You lost me.
In other words, I never seek truth. I only seek evidence.
For example, when I was a child, dinosaurs were scaly reptiles. That was the accepted reality based on the available evidence. Today, archaeologists have discovered new fossils which confirm that many dinosaurs were feathered. That is the new reality based on the current evidence, and I accept it as such. I do not stubbornly adhere to the debunked stance that all dinosaurs were scaly reptiles. It’s demonstrably false.
This is why it absolutely baffles me that we, as a modern society, are now openly debating the established reality we live in. When a political figure in power can re-brand demonstrably false statements as “alternative facts,” that’s when I take my ball and go home. To quote Carlin, “I’m divorced from it now … I’m separate. I’m over here, because I put myself out of the mix. I don’t have a stake in the outcome. I’m not a cheerleader.”
It didn’t used to be this way. I’m old enough to remember a time when politicians worked together to find common ground. I was idealistic back then and took pride in casting an informed vote. But year after year, humans disappoint me more and more. Before the 2016 electoral circus, I teetered back and forth between a soft cynicism and cautious indifference. These days, I have officially checked out. I have embraced misanthropy and look at the world through narrowed eyes.
It’s a depressing state of affairs when people firmly reject verifiable information as a matter of principle. They are choosing their own realities on top of their own beliefs, and no amount of evidence can convince them otherwise. We used to share a collective reasoning, a cognitive foundation. But alas, a modern wave of anti-intellectualism has eroded that foundation, and this willful dismissal of actuality has soured me to humanity as a whole.
It’s been said that if you scratch a cynic, you’ll find a disappointed idealist. Perhaps this is why I reject the concept of a political identity. Every camp defines a set of principles and every camp fails to live up to them, often skirting them for personal gain. It’s as pathetic as it is predictable. It’s also why I welcome the giant meteor that brings this charade of failure to an end.
In the meantime, there are still many things that I enjoy and appreciate. It’s hard to be cynical when I’m hiking with my wife, gaming with a friend, or watching a Premier League match with a cold beer. Life can be good, but to quote Jean Paul Sartre, “Hell is other people.”