Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Megancentric View Of The Universe

Shorter Megan McArdle: Sure, gay kids have it bad, what with the bullying and suicides and everything. But what about me everyone else?

In McArdle's mind, anyone else's gain is her loss. She is a bottomless pit of emotional needs.

This was interesting:

This just goes to show that you have no idea how much hell weird kids, fat kids, and smart kids can get from their parents. For that matter, I know gay kids who had plenty of support at home, and were still miserable, because frankly, at that age, having parents tell you that they love you doesn't really help all that much when your peers insist on telling you you're disgusting.

No one's trying to diminish the importance of doing this for gay kids. But a lot of bullied kids of other descriptions also hurt themselves. Would it somehow diminish what Savage is doing for gay kids to try to help the many other kinds of kids who are tortured by their peers? Why on earth are you angry that I'd dare suggest that hey, this might be nice to do for other kids too? Are you worried that the straight kids will use up the supply of YouTube videos?

This is really dumb, you know? Weird kids, smart kids, new kids - they live in a world where, when they go home, they aren't told by their family that they are going to hell because of who they are. But hey, you know you're "people". If you think it's a worthwhile project to make videos for poor little picked on John and Jane Galts, no one is going to stop you.

Being a gay teenager is fundamentally different from all of these other things[...].

People usually don't end up callous and self-centered for no reason.

Right, I'm not trying to say this isn't a big deal, or "it happens to straight kids too"; I'm saying "it's a great idea, and there are a lot more at-risk kids this could help". Probably I didn't say that right, but such is blogging.

Then shouldn't she stop calling herself a journalist instead of a blogger?


aimai said...

Yes, she didn't say what she says she meant because blogging is fundamentally different from, say, writing. Also when I screamed at you that I hated you and wanted you to drop dead I really meant that I really liked your new book but such is public speaking! Sorry for the confusion!

Actually, what I meant to say (but such is blogging!) is that this is echt McMegan. She thinks that if you were fat, or too smart, or had braces, or were a nerd and you watched those Dan Savage videos you'd think "why, oh why, does no one care about me! If they don't make a video about a 4 foot nine inch fat girl with glasses and ugly clothes who once played toto in the Wizard of Oz then I *just can't relate.*"

I'm not gay, and I was popular in highschool, but I watched that Dan Savage video and teared up because I can empathize with the situation he's describing *even though it didn't happen to me.* And, in addition, I can extend my sympathetic imagination far enough to apply the message: "hang on: love is on the way!" to lots of issues that I have faced and will face.

This gets back to a really obvious problem with Megan's cognitive abilities--she doesn't seem to grasp things as symbols or metaphors. I don't mean she doesn't understand a common metaphor or a cliche I mean she doesn't grasp the notion that one thing can stand in for another, or the part for the whole. For instance, a normal person might see Dan and his boyfriend talking about being beat up in highschool and think "this situation is analagous to my sufferings in my first job." Or a normal person might hear Dan talking about how his mother at first refused to recognize his gayness and later accepted it and say "oh, perhaps my father will come around when I've achieved my dream of being a concert pianist and will stop hoping I become a lawyer."

Megan goes "I don't get it." She's like the character in the Woody Allen movie to whom he's making a joke that relies on hyperbole and she is so literal minded that she just stares at him and says "I don't get it." No, at a fundamental level if it involves sympathetically entering into the mind or the life or the situation of another person Megan simply can't get it. She reminds me, again, of Being John Malkovich except when she looks out of her own eyes everyone doesn't look like Megan, they just don't appear at all.


Clever Pseudonym said...

Aimai's already said it, but the "such is blogging" line is getting tired. She writes that as if incoherency and lack of attention to detail are something inherent to the medium. Many people manage to blog while keeping their facts straight and writing clearly. With Megan, everyone is always misunderstanding her point. It's more like "such is being a crappy journalist."

Then again, it could just be a hypothetical and not a statistic.

Lurking Canadian said...

"Such is blogging" is the core of her style. It summarizes everything she's always trying to say: I'm smarter than you; you're lucky I'm trying to explain this, but I'm really wasting my time on you dirty peasants; if you were smart enough you'd understand what I mean, instead of pedantically insisting on just reading what I say...

Downpuppy said...

To me it wasn't that she screwed up by talking about other pressured kids as if they were similar, it's that she was so lazy & stupid that it never occurred to her that there might already be people looking out for other pressured kids.

So that by mentioning them, she ended up showing how little she really cares.

TBogg said...

Such is blogging

Maybe she should make videos showing kids that they can still become the business and economics editor of the Atlantic even if they can't count.

Substance McGravitas said...

Wire mother.

Anonymous said...

Imagine Megan in full blown motherhood. I'd have Social Services on standby 24-7-365.

Smut Clyde said...

I got your wire mother here.

Smut Clyde said...

they can still become the business and economics editor of the Atlantic even if they can't count.

Some people have reported a special form of innumeracy in cases of fetal alcohol syndrome:

"Indeed, the teenagers we tested, although they could all read and write numbers and perform simple calculations, provided truly nonsensical numerical responses in cognitive estimation tasks. The size of a large kitchen knife? Six feet and a half, said one of them. The duration of a drive from San Francisco to New York? An hour. Curiously, although their numerical answers were often quite wrong, the patients almost always selected appropriate units of measurement. Sometimes they even seemed to know the answers, yet they still selected an inappropriate number. When asked to estimate the height of the tallest tree in the world, one patient correctly reported 'redwood', then generously granted it precisely 23 feet and 2 inches!"

Their estimates of the length of a dollar bill ranged from 2 inches to 5 feet. Length of an average man's spine, from 1 inch to 24 feet.

For some reason that paper comes to mind when I read about MM's latest order-of-magnitude difficulty.

Tom Levenson said...

"Such is blogging" !!!

It's been said, but that phrase on its own should get her fired. The Atlantic's logo is at the top of her page. Her title is right there. She's a voice of the publication and a prominent one too. Most of her output by volume comes on her blog. And if she doesn't display even a minimal duty of care to get things right, if post after post requires correction, clarification, or a mere slink into embarassed oblivion (Warren, part two) then she shouldn't be doing the job she's doing.

I'll say what I've said elsewhere: Megan's reputation is circling the drain...the question for the Atlantic is how much damage does the rest of the institution want to take with her?

(The question mostly answers itself, I'm afraid: she is useful to the larger aims of the Atlantic's ownership, so the collateral damage is acceptable, at least for now.)

Susan of Texas said...

I wonder if The Atlantic cares about the critiicsm at all, or if they just dismiss it as the unimportant mutterings of the rabble. It seems that if the embarrassment doesn't happen on tv then they tell themselves it didn't happen at all. I can vaguely remember reading about some pundit who became very very upset when he was criticized by a peer on tv becasue that just wasn't done in public.

That one little question I asked her in the Washington Post chat (what was the basis for her numbers regarding health care innovation) did more damage to her reputation than a thousand blog posts, I think..

Tommykey said...

I can vaguely remember reading about some pundit who became very very upset when he was criticized by a peer on tv becasue that just wasn't done in public.

Susan, I think you're recalling Chuck Todd reacting to Jeremy Scahill on Bill Maher's Real Time a couple of seasons ago.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if The Atlantic cares about the critiicsm at all, or if they just dismiss it as the unimportant mutterings of the rabble.

Unimportant mutterings would be my guess. The same is almost certainly true of, say, the hammering Jeffrey Goldberg gets from guys like Glenn Greenwald or Jonathan Schwarz. They're not in the club, so they're easy enough to ignore.

Batocchio said...

"Such is blogging" is her version of Jonah Goldberg's "busy" or "deadline." It's an implicit claim that they could write something that wasn't complete and utter shit if only they put in some time and effort.

Even if you grant the premises that they're secretly intellectual giants and honorable people, an obvious question arises, since they're (FSM help us) paid to write - why is it that they never put in that sort of time and effort?

freq flag said...

...shouldn't she stop calling herself a journalist instead of a blogger?

Otter: Take it easy, I'm pre-law.
Boon: I thought you were pre-med.
Otter: What's the difference?