Hypothetical Enemies

version

Well-known member
Social media thrives on them. You look at any argument or rant and chances are the target is some vague composite of every negative comment and stereotype people have been exposed to online. A person perfectly engineered to wind you up. An algorithmic punching bag.

You can stick an actual person in front of someone and they may still engage with the composite rather than the person, like that bit in Blade Runner 2049 when the holographic woman's projected onto the body of the sex worker.

It's always been the case but, like many things, it's been intensified by the web.
 
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Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
I think this is critical to how the culture war works. I suspect most of the more politico-culturally polarized folks out there have some imaginary caricature of the opponent in their mind, nagging them, getting under their skin to whatever extent.

I have frequently caught myself imagining frustrating interactions with ultra-chastising social justice types, and the reason I think there isn't a parity in my mind (IE why I don't play out similar simulations with far-right types) is that the particular character of the left side here (chastising/neurotic) lends itself more to superego hairsplitting self-criticism. Whereas, the other extreme is characterized more by banality and ignorance - if I may oversimplify.

Anyway, if certain conservative folks have any kind of similar mental phenomena involving facile and annoying simulations of liberals, I can see how they would project these impressions onto actual liberals who of course aren't that one-dimensional.
 

Clinamenic

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Also I think in my case this imaginative tendency was fueled by extended exposure to such types in college, who pounce on any offhand comment that is construably insensitive to some category of human.

To be clear, I recognize this mental phenomenon as facile, but I can totally see how it can toxify one's impression of the other cultural side.
 

Clinamenic

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IE if I went on without such a recognition, I could well develop an opinion that liberals are generally ultra-chastising and shrill, when in reality such an opinion would be informed by one-dimensional and antagonistic imaginary caricatures
 

Clinamenic

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And I've also experienced the far-left cultural mindset too, now that I think of it. In those times, I did in fact mentally deploy facile caricatures of conservatives as veiled racists and bigots, who simply could not manage to put in the effort of considering what other categories of people are going through, and how other categories of people deal with particular normalized/systemic challenges.
 

Clinamenic

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From this far left social justice perspective, a "conservative" was anyone who was moderately liberal or further to the right.
 

version

Well-known member
Also I think in my case this imaginative tendency was fueled by extended exposure to such types in college, who pounce on any offhand comment that is construably insensitive to some category of human.

Yeah, I think it's partly rooted in your environment, hence people like Red Scare listeners who live in big cities and go to liberal arts colleges directing most of their ire at liberals.
 

Clinamenic

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Yeah, I think it's partly rooted in your environment, hence people like Red Scare listeners who live in big cities and go to liberal arts colleges directing most of their ire at liberals.
Totally. And I was lucky to have experienced two seriously different cultural milieus in college, allowing my mind to almost diametrically reorient, in terms of the crowd I was responding to. If this didn’t happen, I’d imagine I’d have a tougher time appreciating how plastic one’s identity is. That, plus psychedelics of course.
 

linebaugh

Well-known member
This board is great for it because you can come in here and wage war on your hypothetical enemy in relative private without ruining your social standing. like a shadow boxing pit
 

version

Well-known member
This board is great for it because you can come in here and wage war on your hypothetical enemy in relative private without ruining your social standing. like a shadow boxing pit

Dissensus itself is a hypothetical enemy for some. I remember talking about people's idea of this place hating all new music and just lamenting the 'nuum feeling more accurate than it is as even Luke, who's forever saying music's cancelled and everything's shit, posts new music.
 

version

Well-known member
Nick Clegg's "asylum seekers" anecdote is a hypothetical enemies classic,

Years ago, before I became an MP, I was knocking on doors in Chesterfield, Derbyshire – this was at the height of the controversy about asylum seekers being dispersed around the country when Tony Blair was in power. The tabloid newspapers were going nuts about it every day. I remember speaking to a guy leaning on the fence outside his house and saying: “Any chance you’ll vote for the Liberal Democrats?” And he said: “No way.” And I said: “Why not?” And he said: “Because of all these asylum seekers.” And I knew for a fact that not a single asylum seeker had been dispersed to Chesterfield. So I said to him: “Oh, have you seen these asylum seekers in the supermarket or the GP’s surgery?” And he said something to me that has remained with me ever since. He said: “No, I haven’t seen any of them, but I know they’re everywhere.” You can’t dismiss the fear, but how on earth are you supposed to respond to that?

You could take it even further if you think Clegg himself is making it up, hypothetical enemies layered upon hypothetical enemies.
 

shakahislop

Well-known member
Yeah, I think it's partly rooted in your environment, hence people like Red Scare listeners who live in big cities and go to liberal arts colleges directing most of their ire at liberals.

i don't know if it might be mostly a north american thing, but i think the fairly common experience of suddenly being attacked out of nowhere in a conversation that you thought was pretty mundane, among friends, or at least where you weren't on your guard, for some infringement or other - i feel like this isn't exactly a regular occurrence but it does happen every now and again - is prone to make you a bit defensive, make you think about why you're right to say what you said or why you're at least not a morally bad person for saying it, have these imaginary conversations and rebuttals etc.

the weird thing about that is that you can also go on the internet and hear all these arguments fleshed out. sometimes you end up arguing with the internet in your head. arguing with this weird dispersed text, where individual people's opinions get merged into one set of beliefs (coz who could ever keep track of all the usernames)

my feeling on that is a lot of this ss a recent social phenomenon and probably is a temporary thing.

it's hard to get that annoyed with the other imaginary enemy, 'the right', when you live in a city like new york because you're never going to meet them, they're just nutcases in the comments below articles in the new york post, people you see on the news
 

version

Well-known member
I just mentioned something along those lines in entertainment's misapprehension thread,

I read something recently with someone saying they could feel the fear of misapprehension in a lot of people's writing nowadays, that we've been conditioned by the social media pile on to write in a defensive mode.

I do it. I make a point of referring to 'some people' rather than just 'people' or sticking 'apparently' or 'allegedly' ahead of something I've read, so I don't get Tea leaping in like "Uh, what about these people?" or Leo assuming I believe whatever rumour I'm talking about.

😂
 

version

Well-known member
Owen Hatherley's an interesting one as Luke's adamant he's Craner's nemesis despite Craner himself saying he isn't. A strange mutation of the dynamic.
 

Clinamenic

θερμοδυναμικός καπιταλιστής
Owen Hatherley's an interesting one as Luke's adamant he's Craner's nemesis despite Craner himself saying he isn't. A strange mutation of the dynamic.
Vicarious hypothetical enemies. Another example is how we all keep insisting that Beiser was/is your true nemesis, irrespective of how you yourself may feel about it.
 

Clinamenic

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On social media, there is another interesting factor here, namely the percentage of ostensible online personas which are actually bots - and these bots can be designed to drum up cultural/political drama.
 

version

Well-known member
On social media, there is another interesting factor here, namely the percentage of ostensible online personas which are actually bots - and these bots can be designed to drum up cultural/political drama.

You've got people like Fox News presenters who are paid to be avatars of a certain politics too.
 
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