The Politics of Modern Folly

Perhaps you too enjoy the charming madness of Twitter? My resistance dissolved after six self-congratulatory years—and countless column inches—of pure derision. Recently, I signed up. Never have I derived such narcotic pleasure while sober or while clothed.

Nothing on Twitter makes sense. No detail is exacting or elucidating; black is often white; “people” are pregnant. Once confined to the N7 night bus, nutters knit together nonsense about the Zionists. They mean “Jews,” but that monkey-minded grievance isn’t too acceptable at the moment, though, give it time. Each morning, I check what’s trending on Twitter, that way I know what not to think about for the day, or ever again.

Twitter has its moments. What draws millions toward its temporary lobotomy is the “Woke Toddler” phenomenon: Through the made-up faux-found statements of their sprogs, very online and assuredly woke people soothe themselves publicly.

As you’ll undoubtedly be familiar, Woke Toddler goes something like this: “My son, Tempranillo, age four, broke from reading Antiracism for Kids, to ask: ‘Daddy, why don’t people realize that multi-racial whiteness is problematic? Do they dislike Kamala Harris because they fear strong women? Why don’t they educate themselves, Daddy?’”

Little Tempranillo then pumps his clenched fist into the air and declares himself demisexual. Everyone claps like Maoist seals. Indeed, the insufferable little twonk doesn’t exist, but that’s no consolation, it’s worse—someone, somewhere, felt the need to conjure and publish to the world such therapeutic piffle.

Mocking such delusionary tweets is rightful, just, and entirely missing the point. Woke Toddler tweets peacock the wokeness of one’s offspring (a narcissism by proxy) and soothe the author’s anxieties. Such tweets reassure their authors that their civilized worldview is indeed on the right side of history and that all evidence to the contrary—that few believe such piffle, or that nobody outside of Twitter thinks men can get pregnant—is the right and only worldview.

Not to insinuate that such behavior is the indelible mark of the neurotic, but . . . the more liberal one is, the more mentally plagued one tends to be. Indeed, the most troubled of tribes is the Extremely Liberal Male—chief conjurer of Woke Toddler tweets.

Researchers found that liberals report poorer mental health than conservatives and moderates. Those identifying as “extremely liberal” were the worst off, and not just compared with conservatives but with those identifying as “liberal” and “slightly liberal.” The differences between the conservative spectrum were mute. In precis: The more liberal one is the more unhappy one tends to be; the less one can control one’s emotions, the more one craves to control other people’s behavior.

I’m not saying all liberals are neurotic, but it appears all neurotics are liberal.

Just recently, I read an enlightening “academic” study positing “fat acceptance as social justice.” Having sifted the veracity of the Canadian Medical Association Journal countless times, I’m still unsure it could possibly be real. I know we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but a shoeless, bearded waif smoking a bong emblazons this particular cover.

Anyway, the study contends that:

The struggle for social justice is incomplete without serious attention to how fear, hatred and discrimination occur at the nexus of different identities, including among people labelled as obese.

Apparently, those whom the authors call “fat communities” such as the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), contest the “stubborn generalisations” that link (like a sausage, one would guess) “fatness” with disease and poor health.

The authors argue that “thinking about obesity as a disease or medical risk (such as for severe COVID-19) contributes to stigma because it positions larger bodies as drains on an already-taxed health care system.”

Ah! The dreaded stigma. Perhaps those imbued with such stigma could educate themselves on the numbers? Okay. Almost 80 percent of Americans who’ve perished to COVID-19 were obese. The COVID-19 death rate is 10 times higher in countries where obesity is a major issue.

This politics of folly isn’t fenced off in obscure journals nobody reads. Online, the body positivity movement pretends that, contrary to all medical knowledge, obesity is healthy and that Western beauty standards are the real problem. It’s colonialism or something.

The movement deplores the objectification of women. In the same breath, its adherents proffer their preferred body image. Funnily enough, the “ideal body” worthy of objectification resembles that of their own bodies.

You would think “body positivity” included the naturally or industriously thin, and those who desire thinness. No. When Adele, the singer, dropped one-hundred pounds, many within the body positivity movement decreed Adele a traitor.

iStock/Getty Images

Dear reader, we’ve beached finally upon a world as written by Jonathan Swift. Give it a few months, and warring tribes will fight to the death over the preferred method of cracking an egg.

Much of the modern world is a Swiftian satire. We tell ourselves that which is not true, and the more one shares such untruth, the better. Long have we believed that incanting a positive affirmation will right the many wrongs of existence; that all that’s wrong with human nature is that we have yet to devise the perfect hashtag.

In our age of empowerment, one’s vulnerability is one’s currency. Everyone’s on a journey. Everyone my age has some fictitious hardship of which they must publicly and without criticism overcome. Sadly, all these affirmations and all these syrupy slogans, these nonsense studies, these isms, and these ilities, amount to little more than civilized witchcraft. 

Perhaps we dream up these stories of strife and of hardship because we haven’t known much of either. We get to be the hero in our own movie.

The bad news? Few—if any—are watching. The good news? Few if any are watching.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared at Oxford Sour, the author’s Substack. You can subscribe here. 


About Christopher Gage

Christopher Gage is a British political journalist and a founding member of the Gentlemen of the Swig. Subscribe to his Substack, "Oxford Sour."

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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