Yes, political correctness comes from fear, and ignoramic dissonance, but also, one other fundamental human characteristic. Laziness. And not necessarily, but a little necessarily, the laziness of the individual, but mostly the laziness of the categorical boxes of language that suffocates said individual’s speech. The stem of this problem exponentiates, like the invite list of a high school house party, when shining a light on the human tendency to organize the world (jocks and nerds rejoice), and the linguistic limitations with the categories at hand. Most people don’t come up with new words, or phrases, or categories, or constructs. They follow. What’s the latest insta-gentrification filter? And it doubles down when considering the satisfaction of putting an object in it’s correct box. Tick. Job’s done. Ah, I solved the problem. Su Do Ku finished. Rubik’s cube solved. Proof QED. And it’s built into language. We say “this is that”, or “these are this way”. We don’t say, “given X, Y, and pink bananas, this has a 95% confidence interval of being correlated, while causational connections cannot be drawn”. Grey, nuance, contexts of situations, and complexities of concepts, are challenging, unnerving, and don’t lead to a happy neatly wrapped up world that can be tucked into the universe of blissful calm sleep. It leads to more questions, discomfort, and sometimes, actually most times, a feeling of injustice. A feeling that needs to eventually become a comfortable one, or at least accepted, when dealing with the nuance of seemingly everything.
This sparks an earlier discussion we had on the free will continuum (briefly: most behaviour is explained through environmental genetics, and genetics genetics, and less so through free will, existing on a continuum rather than a binary of determinism v free will). In the year since we swam in those thoughts, I’ve tried to internalize that sentiment and give less credit to free will and more to the aforementioned factors, and in doing so, it has allowed me to become more of a passive observer, seeker of context in people, environments, situations, etcetera. And this is where I think the solution to political correctness is, the seeking of context. Hey, so you notice an uncomfortable trend across a certain subset of the population. Maybe find out that there are underlying historical reasons to explain said behaviour, or the interminglings of local individually specific reasons, perhaps in concert with historical reasons. (And of course the duh, the trend doesn’t include everyone in the group, duh). If you accept that most behaviours don’t come from a conviction of free will, and often is explained with context, political correctness resolves as an unnecessary overreaching disguise that leads to fearful sentiment, and unsolved questions. Open free discussion of context is king.
We’ve taken tons of jabs at political correctness, so lets take a moment and ponder the roots, and find some *ehem* context of the stems of it’s usefulness. One fundamental problem that it addresses is stereotyping in institutionalized power domains. Here’s a quick example: a 2009 study that asked black, white, and latino participants to send out identical resumes to a variety of entry level positions. What came of it, “black and Latino applicants with clean backgrounds fared no better than white applicants just released from prison”. Throwing aside outwardly abrupt, idiotically ignorant HR managers, what’s most enlightening in these situations is that the HR managers are being racist on an unconscious macro level. And lets look at that word ‘macro’ for a second. The use of that macro word highlights the trend of stereotyping, without necessarily blaming individuals for it. When pressed, I’d guess the non-abruptly-ignorant HR managers would be appalled at the thought of this discrimination. Political correctness of thoughts here is almost a self reflective mechanism of “hey, was I being unfairly judgmental without knowing it?” or “what are my predisposed biases and how do they reflect my decision making”.
When spewing in the arena of idealism, refreshing yourself with a reality check, or an expectations calibration, is as necessary as wiping your butt after a gleeful number deuce. As much as I preach about being a Kontext King, a reflector of your thoughts & biases, the underlying madness that lies beneath any idealistic mumblings is the ugly nature of our reality. And this is most poignantly reflected through the lens of the attractiveness bias. As in any general advice thread we’ve seen on reddit, Step 1) Be Attractive. In a species, even an intelligent one, arrived at through billions of years of sexually charged evolution, the playing field of privilege will never be fair. Accepting that fate at least allows the nuance of context to be swallowed with a gulp of expectation, rather than harshly down, mean and jagged. Political correctness can’t solve that.