Wet Socks

We kick around the term viral so often these days that it’s almost meaningless. It’s like saying something is popular. But there’s a reason that term stuck. Information is a virus, or at least it acts like one. It enters the mind via the senses and, depending on resistance, may or may not break through the membrane of consciousness. If it makes it through, it becomes integrated into your thoughts and becomes a building block of every subsequent perception. It replicates and is transmitted by communication. A recent opinion piece on the solution to anti-liberal sentiment got me thinking about cycles, specifically the way opposites frequently bleed together trading characteristics like waterbears (i.e. the way the republican and democratic parties swapped platforms in the early 1900’s). The main point of the article is that people are more concerned with social power than they are economic or physical power. Essentially, most of us prefer poverty and sickness to oppression.

Both progressives and conservatives think of themselves as the party of morality. The core ideology of both is that everyone should be free to think and act in any way they like as long as their thoughts and actions aren’t hurting anyone. They simply disagree on what is harmful.

Conservatives believe that morality is tied to traditionalism. They put their faith in God and anyone who claims to be his representative. Morality equates to square jawed honesty, clean living, and following your gut, while immorality spans all forms of

behavior that might sully their soul (pleasures of the flesh, cursing, atheism, etc.).

Progressives believe in learning from mistakes, applying new information, and synthesizing better solutions to deal with the world’s problems. They put their faith in science and anyone who can display expertise in their field. Morality equates to empathy, universal tolerance, and a willingness to make sacrifices to improve the lives of strangers. Immorality is based in selfishness and things that hinder happiness (rape, war, pollution, theft, etc…)

Disclaimer- that’s not to say there aren’t anti-war conservatives, or evangelical progressives. Every broad statement is technically wrong. Stuff is complicated, and people are infinitely complex. That’s becoming harder to remember in our increasingly polarized society.

No matter what the ideology, a few nincompoops will twist it into something cringeworthy as soon as they feel culturally empowered to do so. When conservatives are in charge, you get Parental Advisory stickers, Satanic Panic and televangelists saying hurricanes and AIDS are God’s way of punishing “the Gays”. When Progressives are in charge we hear about how backup dancers are racist, chivalry is sexist, picking up a cat is rape, etc… But we’re only hearing about those things because they’re entertaining. Rationality is boring, so it doesn’t get as many shares.

Everybody’s desperate to be famous. When idiocy or inflammatory statements are the quickest path to fame and wealth, people are going to jump on that. As more of these people find their way to the media, public opinion begins to swing the other direction. The group that’s not in power has no weight to throw around, so the

media stops focusing on team-A’s loud busybodies in favor of team-B’s. Team-A now seems less irritating even though they have the same amount of annoying people.

Hate is addictive. The more you hate, the more you focus on the things that make you angry. So, we stop scrolling when we see political posts and rage-read the comments. The people we agree with get skipped over so we can get to the next jackass. This is really interesting, because it’s the opposite of how we react to non-opinion information. Obviously, we know there’s a difference between opinions and facts, but our reactions to both run counter to what’s best for our mental development and emotional wellbeing.

New information makes us feel dumb because we have to try to understand it. Rage makes us feel smart and vindicated, but the hate it inspires has a negative impact on their reasoning skills. Before we know it, we’re saying crazy stuff too. We’ve been infected with information that had the stupidity gene.

Nobody has figured out a good way to treat a virus because the infection is coming from your own cells. The body raises its temperature to help the immune system do its job. You basically just have to suffer through it until either you or the virus dies, but a wet pair of socks can stimulate an increase in circulation and an increased response from the immune system. The result is that the body expends heat, drying the socks and cooling the body.