Articles & Op-eds

Putting People Down So We Can ‘Help’ Them

photo credit: <a href="">TeaWithBuzz</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>
Tied up in Knots

There’s a strange trend in journalism today. Articles written mostly for the internet are designed to get you to click, click, click on their links. It makes them money. But instead of persuading, informing, or offering useful information designed to enhance your choices in life, a new crop of journalists have taken to condescension as a means of vying for your business. In fact, they’re competing with each other to see who can put you down the most and the best.

Here are just a few real titles of articles you can find on the internet rignt now:  (Google them for yourself, ’cause I know you know how!)

  • You’re Probably Wearing The Wrong Sports Bra 
  • 19 Foods We’ve Been Eating All Wrong
  • You’ve Been Making Your Sandwiches All Wrong
  • 5 Foods You’re Eating The Wrong Way
  • Everything You Thought You Knew About Doing Laundry is Wrong
  • 9 Things You’re Doing Wrong With Your iPhone  
  • So Apparently, We’ve Been Eating Sushi All Wrong  
  • 10 Cheeses You Are Probably Pronouncing Wrong
  • 5 Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong In The Shower
  • Everything You Know About Christmas Is Wrong
  • Everything You Know About Your Personal Hygiene Is Wrong
  • 5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having
  • Type of Heel you Shouldn’t Wear Anymore 
  • 9 Things Never to Say to the Parents of a Newborn
  • 5 Things You Should Never Say to a New Mom
  • 23 Things You Should Never Say To A Curvy Woman
  • 23 Things You Should Never Say To A Child free Woman
  • 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Flight Attendant
  • 12 Things You Should Never Say To An Artist
  • 22 Things You Should Never Say To A Multiracial Woman
  • 9 Things You Should Never Say To Teachers
  • 20 Things You Should Never Say To A Short Woman
  • What You Should Never Say To Someone Over 50
  • 5 Things to Never Say to a Person With Alzheimer’s
  • 7 Things You Should NEVER Say to Your Tween or Teen
  • 50 Things You Should Never Say To A Woman About Her Hair
  • 12 Things You Should Never Say To Your Ex-Husband
  • The Stir: 8 Things Never to Say to a Mom of an Only Child
  • 8 Things You Should Never Say To A Grandparent
  • What Not to Say to a Working Mom
  • 10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Stationer
  • 7 Things You Shouldn’t Say To Someone With Anxiety
  • The 6 Things You Should Never Say To Your Adult Child
  • The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying
  • 6 Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying    
  • 23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing
  • Why You Should Stop Touching Your Face
  • The One Thing All Parents Should Stop Doing At Dinnertime
  • 10 Things You Need to Stop Wearing Immediately
  • 5 Things Parents Need to Stop Saying to Non-Parents
  • 7 Things You Should Never Do in Bed

You are eating, shopping, talking, dressing, living and breathing all wrong.  This list is but a fraction of titles I found and it reads like an army of smothering Jewish mothers (or ‘Church Ladies’) on steroids. If we did exactly as these articles suggest, we’d be terrified to make a move without consulting the latest “elite” journalist expert. They alone know the correct way to do everything, though I’m not sure who conferred that “divine” right upon them. Somewhere, somebody decided that the old adage: “the customer knows best” was outdated. Co-dependence in commerce, they think, is better.

Why are these new journalists under the impression that the way to get readers’ attention is to diminish, demean and devalue them?  What’s even stranger is why readers aren’t indignant about it.  Have they been beaten down to such an extent that they believe they should be told what not to say to a flight attendant?  Such cultural tolerance for infantilization has serious consequences and in turn, breeds tolerance for petty tyranny. A growing number of “experts” are thumping their personal manual of acceptable behavior, and professing that they alone know the proper way to live for everyone else.  That’s hardly “tolerance,” acceptance,” diversity,” and it’s certainly not “pro-choice.”

Where is this infantilization of adult citizens coming from? The media culture has crossed the line from serving the public into condescension and disdain for everyday people, their families, and their ability to make decisions for themselves. In a culture that on the one hand, tries to protect you from yourself, and on the other, has broken down to the point where it cannot protect you in ways we thought it was supposed to, why is there a growing notion that there is only one way to eat, dress, speak and wash your socks?

And, who are these self-appointed, all-knowing people?  The message appears to be that anyone who doesn’t act in conformist, lock step with what they deem acceptable is stupid, silly, just plain wrong, or even evil. Would middle-aged people of today have tolerated such authoritarian tones say, in the 60’s, when they were young adults?  We were told that it’s not only good to rebel, but question everything. Anything goes. Do your own thing. Anyone who tells you how to live is probably over thirty and can’t be trusted anyway.

The stunning paradox is that many of today’s petty tyrants were those young adults. Yep, they were the same “rebel against authority” kids who are now telling you that their way is the only way to live and to think.  “Pro-choice” only applies to abortion, but no, no, nowhere else.

I challenge you to count the number of internet articles you see in a week that talk down to you or admonish you for thinking, saying or doing the wrong thing.  Then, (only if you want to) write, call or e-mail that author. Tell them that information and suggestions are fine, but demands and put-downs will be met with the worst of all possible punishments by today’s standards: They will be ignored. After all, didn’t they learn that in the sixties?

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