The recent uproar over the latest product enabling women to test for date rape drugs brings to mind the question of “How do you test an article, post, or comment for being infected with ‘Toxic Ideology’?
Toxic Ideology is no laughing matter. It has the potential to spread like a virus among vulnerable victims. Toxic ideology has the ability to turn empathy in to othering. It changes compassion into hate. It turns compromise into unyielding rigidity. It replaces creativity with static thinking. But the greatest danger of Toxic ideology is that it encourages extremism on both sides of the argument.
How to you know if what you are reading is inflected with Toxic Ideology? You must look for indicators such as the following:
- Does the work incorporate lots of sarcasm?
- Does the work incorporate blaming?
- Does the work incorporate the othering of certain races, religions, groups, or genders?
- Does the work provide a simplistic solution to a complex problem?
- Does the work criticize others who don’t agree with said solution?
- Does the work discourage compromise between opposing sides?
- Does the work reduce empathy for alternative viewpoints?
- Does the work play on your and other people’s emotions?
- Does the work leave you feeling irritated, upset, or somehow wronged?
If you notice a number of these indicators, the chances are that the work is highly infectious with Toxic Ideology. One of the first signs of catching this contagious social disease is that regardless of whether or not you agree with the underlying cause of the article, post, or comment, you become more rigid and emotional in your thinking and your ability to express your viewpoint.
More signs of infection are that you embrace the work or you reject it. You think it is absolutely baseless, or you think it is right on point. You don’t see both sides of the story.
Toxic Ideology creates divisions in society. It drives people apart. Those who spread their works of Toxic Ideology are attempting to destroy the middle ground. They reject compromise. They benefit from creating hyper-supporters and hardened enemies. They know that creating and provoking opponents is a proven method to bond their followers to their Toxic Ideology.
The best defense to becoming infected with Toxic Ideology is to recognize it when you see it. When you know what you are looking for, Toxic Ideology is easy to spot. Once Toxic Ideology is discovered, it loses much of its power to push you towards extremism.
Bleacher Thinking: Yay us! Boo them! – Marc MacYoung
Othering: The Root of Human Evil – Erik Kondo