Stef (firecat) wrote,

Not so simple

This is largely a response to this Body Impolitic post, but the issue has come up recently in some other places I hang out too, so I am discussing it in my journal.

Albert Einstein is supposed to have said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

There are certain things that people try to make more simple than is possible.

Specifically, there is no "the [fill in the blank] community" unless you're talking about a single group of people who meet for one purpose only.

There's no "the fat acceptance community," "the poly community," "the Buddhist community," and so on.

People say "the FITB community" as a way of shorthand when they're talking about all the people interacting around certain ideas. But sometimes they seem to start believing in their own shorthand. Sometimes they seem to act as if all the FITB people will be forced to spend the rest of their lives together in a small confined space so they'd better all think a lot alike.

But if you're talking about many people geographically distributed who share an interest in a certain idea, and especially if that idea is complex, then they do not form a single unified community. They have multiple different relationships with the idea and multiple different ways of interacting with other people who are interested in the idea. For most ideas, that's not only OK, that's good.

When I embrace this understanding of how people interact around ideas, I feel a lot more relaxed. If I believe in X and Z, and someone else believes in Y and Z, we don't have to fight it out about whether the community should be either X+Z believers or Y+Z believers. We can both take part in groups interested in Z and retain our beliefs about X and Y. Then we might be able to discuss X and Y productively instead of feeling like we have to stomp out all those X-believers or Y-believers.
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