of masks and masquarades
how pushing the idea of "duty" onto others engenders rage and helplessness
masks are trying to make a comeback.
despite the absolutely staggering amount of data refuting the idea that they work to stop any kind of respiratory virus (or even bacteria), it just will not go away.
i think it’s always going to be with us. the damage was too deep and there is a certain sort of person who is just never going to let it go.
because this was their happy place.
i think the mask-querade really came down to one potent messaging mantra repeated endlessly until it broke brains and shunted aside critical faculties thereby becoming endlessly integrated into medical mythology:
“your mask protects me.”
"your mask protects me" was made up science but it was phenomenal propaganda.
this pseudo-moralistic psyop probably cannot ever be cured among the anxious and authority craving. it was just too perfect.
it's a societal spirochete penetrating the blood brain barrier and making mad those it infects. honestly, it’s worse. it’s basically herpes. and herpes is forever.
every time you get run down, it's there, waiting to flare up.
this pervasive propaganda essentially reframed the issue of wearing masks from being a "choice" into being a "duty." that’s powerful stuff.
that's how you take away the perception of freedom to act.
it's also how you give everyone who complies permission to attack those who do not comply.
"why are you threatening me!"
it turns your aspirations toward autonomy into perceived assault on/by others. in this, it represents the perfect way to pit society against itself and turn it into its own self-policing tyranny.
those who comply are instantly furious with any who do not. “i’m caring for you, why won’t you care for me!?!” is permission to act beastly while cloaked in purported virtue. and that’s impossibly seductive stuff for the addled, anxious, and angry.
truly, it was an astonishing piece of messaging.
that said, what people seem to miss in all this is that this was NOT new. this happens all the time. it’s being framed and hurtled at society all the time. you see echoes of it all over; this one was just unusually visible because it had such a clear physical marker.
(longtime gatopal™ and noted internet wag bachman encapsulates it with his signature perfect pith.)
weinstein’s point is also good and one we’ve discussed here before.
the same goes for enraged people.
consider this framing i laid out in february about how people lose their rational faculties, do terrible things, and ultimately find their way back to “that which is obvious.” as you do, think about how anger and accusation of marginalization can play this same role and perhaps ponder “where else am i seeing this same game being played?”
because it’s incredibly common.
because it works.
this does not need to be deliberate. it does not need to be planned. it does not need to be done to you. it can just emerge from the vast voting mechanism cum rage and fear amplifier of social media as an endless horror movie in which the audience votes in real time and with perfect honesty about what monster will most terrify or infuriate it in the next scene. we’re all upvoting it and going amygdala to the metal in the over-revved racecar of societal strife as we rip ourselves and one another apart.
it can achieve near instant phase changes. one day, everyone knows masks do not work to stop a virus. the next, it’s social duty and we should attack any who fail to shoulder theirs. one day, everyone knows what a man or a woman are. the next…
i honestly wonder about whether some of these “nudge units” were shocked at the level of idea amplification they set off and the extent to which they meant to put a mento into a bottle of sprite rather than nitro into glycerin. i also wonder if they mistakenly believed there would be “off switches” where you could stop pushing and the ball would stop rolling. old media propaganda worked like that, but new media propaganda? nope. once that one is in motion, there’s no stopping it without crashing violently into something. and we have an awful lot of these memes currently at full steam.
"if you are not an ally to <insert allegedly marginalized group here> you are an enemy!
"it's your job to make me feel safe/welcome, not mine to be resilient and high function!"
we’ve even hit “my pronouns protect you” as new absurdist corporate/HR diktat leads to guidelines about how “cishet people (itself basically a slur to de-normalize typical states of the world) should include pronouns in their work email signature blocks to “normalize including pronouns”” such that every male identifying as a male must say “he/him” just in case some other dude wants to use “she/her” or “clown/clownself.”
you have an identity? cool. feel free to express it and see if others want to agree or advocate. best of luck to you and yours. i mean that sincerely. but this whole “everyone else has to play too so that it’s not weird if i do” is by its very nature an admission that it IS weird. if it weren’t, why not let it stand on its own merits instead of trying to bury it in the camouflage of the forced behavior of others? that said, at least it’s another “outward sign.” it would be difficult to more effectively ask poorly adjusted people to please identify themselves. the opt in on this is really quite a powerful heuristic.
and it jumps topics and contexts with effortless ease.
the markers of rebellion and “get out of my face” in the 80’s (piercings, colored hair, tattoos) have morphed into the signifiers of an orthodoxy centered on “my feelings are your fault, now fix it!”
these people are literally admitting that they have no self control or self possession and that they require the rest of the world to “ally” with them to make it all OK. it’s an admission that they are neither autonomous nor adult. it is always you and not they who must change, you and not they who must accommodate.
it’s seductive stuff for those with weak identity and poor self-regulation. it both rarifies and unifies them by first selecting for the need thereby weeding out any people with actual grounding, then providing an external enemy against which to rage and war in righteous conflagration.
these markers all line up so tightly that the tribalism is obvious once you see it.
shifting the duty of "making me feel secure" upon the rest of the world by casting obedience as "alliance" is a classic brainwashing technique.
if you put it out in the world and see who wants to play “perpetual discontent” it also selects for deeply anti-social adherents.
they want attention, assurance, and status and because people who already had paths to such things would not feel a need to seek them by playing the victim, you’re also selecting for failures and losers. and if there’s one thing failures and losers hate, it’s success stories and winners. it’s why they war on virtue, self-reliance, and even beauty.
this is also why the “everything is structural, there is no success from merits” mantra stands as so persuasive to them: because it makes their failure into someone else’s fault. you had privilege. you oppressed me unconsciously. you were not my ally.
“if you had just worn your mask, i would have gotten into harvard.”
it’s your fault if this does not scream “woman” to you.
it’s your job to make sure that everyone gets to be jessica rabbit. no one gets to say no. it’s duty, not choice.
see how it’s all the same issue? the same frame?
it’s all “if you are upset or unwell, it’s someone else’s fault and they should have to fix it.”
no wonder these people cannot get better and instead keep getting worse.
no wonder nothing can appease them.
it’s all just kabuki enabling of an ongoing crisis culture.
it’s the ethos of a squalling infant and an inescapable prison of low expectations leading to the life-shattering lack of resilience that only near total externalization of the management of one’s own mental and emotional states can achieve.
every time you decide that you must attack the world instead of growing as a person, each time you demand to be obeyed in your identity rather than making a case for why it is good or interesting, you just get more helpless and more toxic and it’s reached a societal breaking point as in the cycle above “bad outcomes” once more drive home “this is obvious.” even the third wave feminists, progenitors of so much affirmative inclusion and intersectionality, have now realized how horrendous the pandora’s box they opened has become as it rounds upon them and they find themselves erased and their spaces invaded by men in their locker rooms flushed from the joys of winning “woman of the year.”
and yeah, it’s a bad outcome. it’s dudes in dresses harassing and intimidating women and stealing their podium spots. it’s awful. but it has to be.
this is what jars us back to “this is obvious.”
and it is. it’s glaringly, unmistakably, fricking obvious. we all know it. and like masks, it’s about getting past the gaslighting, the gang-tackles, and the outlandish social opprobrium of overwrought masses and just plain telling it like it is. the majority never wanted this. it was cowed into it by these false ascriptions of duty to the deranged and status seeking as they howled that “anything less than your total submission is violence.”
it’s all just other kinds of “your mask protects me.”
and the way out is a classic “first one on the dance floor” issue. one person alone looks too weird out there, like something is wrong with them. no one wants to do it. but someone must. then someone joins them. and now it’s dancing. then 3, then 5, then 40 and pretty soon, the club is jumping. like it’s supposed to be.
and it starts with saying “your pathology is your problem, stop making it mine.”
“those who must outsource their stability and well being to others are not fit to dictate social and political mores. grow up or pipe down.”
and as more and more join this chorus, the easier it gets to sing.
and once more it will become obvious that this was always so.
see you on the floor.