With lower intelligence comes a lack of subtlety. As society becomes proportionately more comprised of finger-pointers, the appreciation of the beauty of subtlety increasingly vanishes and we are left in a world where issues are simply a choice of two sides with no degrees and no shades. People are either Western or not, people are gay or straight, religious or atheistic, good or bad. Being unable to classify yourself under one side or the other is just being indecisive or being greedy because the majority of people cannot understand that anybody could have an opinion they don’t understand. I find myself feeling lucky if a person can even understand the exact opposing opinion, never mind one of the more graduated points in the middle.
Mental illness charities are some of the worst culprits of this. Most psychological disorders are a spectrum and most people will exhibit some characteristics that in the right context would be considered an illness. But as intelligence becomes less appreciated and the finger-pointers feel the need to be able to understand everything without effort, psychological diseases have increasingly been given obvious cut off points. If we do not fall under the exact label that people care about, we are classified as normal and deserve no support.
This brings me to Blip: If I send Blip out onto the street on his own, he will look after himself fine but the influx of information – people eating, half-finished conversations, floor tiles etc. – will leave him walking round and round trying to remember what he’s supposed to be buying and where he’s supposed to be going. He will invariably come out an hour after he should have done, having passed MacDonalds six or seven times before he remembered that I’d given him a note with strict instructions on it. He isn’t useless by any means, and he could manage life without any help at all, but he isn’t normal and the more time he spends around people the worse his head will get. He doesn’t need help, but it makes his life easier if someone is willing to give it and I would argue that nobody is free from this. All of us have certain parts of our personality that are easier to deal with when people are understanding towards them, even if it just means people being a little more tolerant towards us.
However, mental health is treated as if you are only abnormal if you have a label a doctor can apply that has become popular enough for people to have heard of it on a soap. If Blip had autism, he would be permitted a lack of social understanding but nobody has heard of low latent inhibition and they shouldn’t have had to. He should be accepted as socially awkward and overly curious because that’s who he is without needing to explain what’s wrong. He shouldn’t have to suffer being told to ‘stop thinking’ or being told to ‘just accept it’ when he wants to know why something is the way it is.
This isn’t some lib-dem plea for the world to just ‘be nicer,’ this is a genuine annoyance that we can be tolerant only about what is popular. People can understand why a person with schizophrenia is odd and needs support, but a condition such as low latent inhibition, which is so closely related that just a slightly lower I.Q. is believed to lead to it, is treated as if the person should just act like everyone else.
Another example is skin colour. Finger-pointers see racism as a white person attacking a black person for the colour of their skin. How many of them would call it racism is a white person attacked another white person for the colour of their skin? That would just be abuse, which of course is nowhere near as bad as abuse towards someone with a very specific skin colour or very specific nationality. Being incredibly pale, I have spent my life being picked on for the colour of my skin. If I was an actual albino, I would be given protection because I would have a label and people would see it as wrong that I was being picked on. If I was black then I would be the victim of racism. But because I am just abnormally pale, the abuse doesn’t mean anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling it racism. What I’m saying is that abuse is graduated like a ruler. It matters when we hit a line that has a label but not when we’re flailing around in the middle. If I were a little closer to the centimetre line, I’d have been the victim of serious prejudice but as it is, I just had a nickname.
In the media this idea is propagated by stories that are presented as very simply good on one side and bad on the other. Everything has one cause, and that one cause is either immoral or moral. An example is a recent story by everyone’s favourite racist, Diane Abbott, who has decided to add some sexism to her box of tricks. She is worried about young girls being ‘pornified’ and young girls only. Apparently, young girls ‘shouldn’t be forced to do things they don’t feel comfortable with’, the obvious implication that young boys are never forced and in fact do the forcing. Women are ‘objectified’ and girls are ‘pressurised into exposing themselves online’, implying that women have absolutely no will power. But my favourite thing she said is that ‘women are attacked by their peers for their sexual behaviour, as a symptom of the porn culture.’ The phrase, WTF?, would not go amiss here. If a girl has sex with every boy that looks at her, she is a slut. That isn’t misogyny, that isn’t a ‘symptom of the porn culture’, that’s what the word means. Women like to portray themselves as saints, and men as the bad guys. We live in a society where women cannot be insulted at all by men without it being sexist, never mind what the behaviour of the woman is actually like, and this comes from the same single minded attitude that causes the normal/abnormal label. Porn is evil, women are always oppressed, a sexually active woman is always pressured into being so. Women are either doing the right thing or have been pressured into doing the evil thing. If children are accessing porn, it must be because the world is evil.
Nobody has considered, of course, that maybe some girls want to show off their bodies on the internet, maybe some of them ask for their boyfriends to send them sexual pictures. And maybe, God help us all, teenagers are watching porn because they just want a wank.
People are either normal, on face-book and twitter every night while watching x-factor with their orange faces and nine-to-five jobs, or they’re abnormal and wear a lot of black but do exactly the same things. The rest of us fall through the cracks, uncared about and unnoticed by the world unless the current fad happens to fit with something we already do. Making the world black and white doesn’t change anything; it doesn’t stop the grey areas existing. Instead it just makes those of us who don’t fit a currently popular label feel disenfranchised and lost, as if there might genuinely be something wrong with us because we can’t lick our lips without getting sores or we can’t stop thinking, when the truth is just that we don’t hide our differences like the popular people do.
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