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Nuancely Nuanced

April 21, 2015

I had to do something awful yesterday…I had to defend a Republican. See, Marco Rubio made a comment about gay marriage when he said he doesn’t think marriage should be redefined, but he also said it’s up to states to define it. Now, I think he’s ten shades of wrong, but people just pounced on this guy even though he was giving a nuanced answer. Whether he believes any of this stuff or not is up for debate. Personally, I think Rubio would be god awful for the U.S., but that’s just me, however, he did give a pretty nuanced answer. I can’t really fault the guy for that because you really can’t give nuanced answers in politics and that little episode proved it. 

Politics in the United States does not allow for nuance, things are either one way or they’re not and it’s really not okay, but I get it: people want easily digestable answers to complex problems because they don’t want to think. I don’t agree with this, but I understand it. The problem is when this attitude bleeds over into your daily life and your discussions.  And holy hell does it bleed now. It has gotten so bad that I have no trouble believing that people don’t even know what nuance is anymore. How many times has this happened to you: you’re discussing a topic—it can be anything from entertainment and politics to the socks you wear—and you say one thing, your friend believes the opposite and thinks that because you don’t believe as they do then the opposite is true?

I usually see this in political discussions, but have also encountered it in pop culture discussions, too. I’ve even come up with a little logic equation for it: if you believe in B then you must support C because they believe in A. Basically like this: if you don’t buy into a particular cause then you must be against it. It’s frustrating because I don’t see the world in black and white. Sure, some things are black and white while other things are many shades of grey or many colors…whatever you choose. And that’s what you see these days whenever any kind of discussion comes up. It has to be this way or that and if you don’t believe as I do then surely you side with them and arrgh! That makes me so angry. How can you side with them on this issue?! I’m never talking to you again!

Binary thinking, to me, tends to put people in these neat little boxes where people are either your enemy or they’re not, but the thing is that no one fits into our clean definitions of who we are. And that’s the real shame, that we’re not allowing for nuance, that we’re attempting to crush any form of disagreement or dissent because…obviously you’re my enemy if you don’t believe as I do. How could you not be? You don’t agree with me. The thing is that I think it’s more of a symptom of people internalizing what they believe and how they believe. Our identity gets so wrapped up in the things that we like and the causes we support that any disagreement is ultimately a rejection of who we are, because we have no identity of our own anymore. We’re becoming the things we like and the clothes we wear and the causes we fight for. 

I don’t think that’s very healthy but I also don’t have a solution for it other than seeing these things as separate to who we are—or trying to. And being more mindful that you are more than what you wear or your political ideology. 

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