April 27, 2022

Weaponized Ignorance: Lessons from the Johnny Depp Trial & January 6th.

You might have heard about weaponized incompetence, but what about weaponized ignorance?

Earlier this year, there was a TikTok trend on weaponized incompetence. It was about men trying to avoid housework. Women listed examples of their loved ones f*cking things up and called this behavior strategic.

But I am not here to make any judgments on that. I would like to talk about something with a similar dynamic: weaponized ignorance.

Ignorance can have a crushing effect on society. I feel it’s one of the main problems these days—on both sides of the political spectrum.

Most of us social justice warriors were shocked to see Marjorie Taylor Greene last week. She basically claimed that she doesn’t remember anything she posted, said, or organized prior to the insurrection on January 6th.

But what about the trial of Johnny Depp against Amber Heard?

I remember how folks reacted to the accusations against Depp a few years ago, and I see the reactions to this trial right now. Am I the only one who noticed the deafening silence around this case?

Of course, the media is reporting, people talk about it on social media, and it’s not over yet. But I feel that we also see a lot of what I call weaponized ignorance.

“I am so over this case. They are both crazy.”

That’s what I see on social media. And I partly agree. Why would we spend our days arguing about the toxic relationship between two celebrities?

When we take a closer look at the accounts pretending that they don’t care about this trial, we might notice that these folks actually spend a lot of time sharing gossip, memes, and similar content.

It’s not that these folks who are so over this case spend their days fighting climate change, helping refugees, or supporting victims of abuse.

Let’s ask ourselves if we also experienced weaponized ignorance in our lives?

Maybe you have an uncle who doesn’t want to talk about January 6th because he voted for Trump? Maybe you have a friend who shared the allegations against Depp in 2016 but decided not to care about gossip anymore?

Or let’s take it to a personal level: did you ever pretend not to know something to stay out of an argument?

I feel that there is a trend of avoiding uncomfortable conversations in our society. Either we agree with each other, or the conversation ends.

But it doesn’t end there. Knowingly or unknowingly, we are diving deeper and deeper into echo chambers that only confirm our existing bias.

Not to forget that the almighty algorithms are doing their best to push us deeper into these rabbit holes.

At the same time, I feel that these dynamics already existed before the first algorithms were programmed.

When I was a teenager, a friend of mine told me a story about sexism. She worked at a local restaurant that had a pretty good reputation at that time. Unfortunately, she also had to deal with self-entitled rich men who thought it was okay to make sexist jokes or even touch her.

She spoke up, and the management told her that she should ignore it. She told her parents and friends, but nobody wanted to talk about “feminism,” as they called it. People still go to that restaurant, and every time I bring up this story, I get told that I shouldn’t politicize everything in life.

These people didn’t want to boycott this particular restaurant because this incident didn’t directly affect them. And I feel the same goes for Republicans who ignore the weaponized ignorance of almost all party members when talking about January 6th. But the same dynamic also applies to those who want to blame men for everything in life.

But maybe that’s the main problem of our society these days? We unlearned how to deal with contradictions—and learned to use ignorance as a tool to avoid conflict.

I feel that the word ignorant is already an insult. But what if we call it nonjudgmental? All of a sudden, it sounds like a noble trait of a spiritual person.

I feel that ignorance should disqualify anyone from being a politician or scientist. But what if forgetting about specific details is part of a strategy that everyone uses to make their case? Doesn’t that automatically make differentiating a weakness?

What happens if we try to see someone’s point while they do everything possible to ignore our concerns? Well, ask anyone who ever tried to argue with a Trump supporter—or a fan of Amber Heard.

The problem with weaponized ignorance is that people get away with it. People claim in court that they don’t remember anything, friends pretend that they didn’t hear about it, and social media amplifies opinions that are based on ignoring the other side of the conversation.

We need to stop glorifying ignorance.

If someone wants to stay out of politics, that’s fine with me, but then please don’t expect me to take these folks seriously when they decide to join a conversation after missing out on context. If someone doesn’t care about gossip, I highly welcome that, but then please also don’t share celebrity news when it fits your bias.

And that’s the point I am trying to make here: we shouldn’t weaponize ignorance to escape contradictions. It’s not solving any problems; it’s causing society to fall apart.

Republicans have to acknowledge that some of their leaders really f*cked up. Feminists have to acknowledge that domestic violence is not a one-way street. Society needs to realize that there are usually two sides to a story.

It’s totally fine to take sides and make judgments after hearing both sides, but we need to stop polarizing society.

Can we please stop turning every topic into a fight between two teams?

And most importantly, can we please stop glorifying ignorance?

If someone doesn’t remember what they said, did, or wrote, I have to assume that they are not fit for any job. If someone blindly takes sides with someone because of gender stereotypes, I won’t call them an expert on equal rights.

And if someone uses ignorance to make their case, I will call them ignorant.

It’s not cute, smart, or polite—it’s ignorant.

Not caring about something is also a statement itself.

Whether it’s about an insurrection, domestic violence, or libel.

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