Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The General(ist)

One of the funniest TV shows to air happened years ago: Seinfeld.  A "show about nothing."  In one particular hilarious episode, the gang wandered aimlessly around a mall parking lot looking for their car.  Jerry desperately needs "to go" and Kramer suggests he just go in the corner.  He comes up with some excuse why he believes it is okay, so Jerry shrugs and goes off to do his business.  Of course, he gets arrested.

The reason I bring this up, besides that it's a fun memory from the past, is that this happens in the show all the time.  The characters always just accept each other's statement as truth.  They believe the person knows what he/she talks about.  All forms of mayhem usually follow and we get to enjoy their antics to try to overcome the situation.
This is similar in blogging.  When we bloggers type out our posts, most people assume we're experts, or at least, know what we're talking about.  Oh, I'm sure in some cases this could be true especially if it is some specific and maybe technical subject (How to bake the perfect birthday cake, etc.), but for the most part the reality is that we are "Generalists.”  We speak in generalities or with a biased perspective.We know a little about a lot.

My classic example concerns the blog I wrote about women drivers.  Boy, did that piss off some radical feminists (ok, maybe a number of none extreme females too).  The reason why they became outraged was because when I said, "women were indecisive drivers" they equated it to mean ALL women were that way--even though I never said a quantity.  They didn't take it into account that maybe it could just be some, a few, or, what it really was, only the handful I have encountered at a 4-way stop.  I generalized.

I see this in other blogs all the time, especially women's blogs.  They rant about evil men and how we may have only evolved slightly in the past millennia--which may be true--but more than likely should be thought of as a general statement about some of the guys she knows.
We see this a LOT in politicians.  They are experts in talking generally.  This is so they can walk back what they said after it's shown they are complete assholes.

"The media mis-represented what I said" is the most common way for them to escape the firestorm they created by opening their mouths.
As you can guess, advertisers specialize in this.  With words like "natural" "organic" "environmentally-friendly" and other general words, they twist and turn the truth to their liking.  What?  You thought that apple you bought was organic?  Well, it is a fruit and grows on a tree, so yeah, it's organic.  It also is sprayed with insecticide, fed weird chemicals to help it grow and goes through other less than natural processes.  But it is organic.
Sometimes the government will step in and insist there be a little less generality to a statement.  For example, a drink can't call itself  "juice" unless it's 100% from the fruit.  In other words, orange juice is different than orange drink which might have all forms of other ingredients included. But even here they can be sneaky. For example, a cherry drink could say it has real juice in it, but that juice might not be the cherry you think it should have.  Most likely it's grape juice with cherry flavoring. The ad would be something like this: Blobo Cherry Drink-with real juice.

Ah, generality.

So just like you should look with skepticism at advertising, especially that by politicians, remember to be cautious about us bloggers too.  Most bloggers welcome, and encourage, comments.  So the next time a blogger tells you "a funny thing happened to me today," be sure and ask if it really happened today, did it really happen to him/her or a person near him/her and maybe whether he/she might be embellishing a bit?  Be friendly though.  We bloggers have very fragile egos (generally speaking).

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