The main thing on my mind to mention today is triangulation, particularly as regards information/disinformation. Seems a highly relevant thing to guard ourselves against lately.
So, typically triangulation is interpreted as occurring between three people: you, me, and them.
A classic example: I tell them bad things about you. Perhaps I’m jealous, seeking revenge, or it’s only a blind impulse towards sabotage. They give youthe cold shoulder, based on what I said, without benefit of the doubt. Likely, and worst of all, you won’t even know why they’re giving you the cold shoulder.
If we’re the ones triangulated against — well, there’s not much we can do. I’ve been on the receiving end of triangulation a number of times (probably more than I know) and I tend to write it off as their loss, frankly. If someone wants to believe shitty things about me, they’re welcome to. Apparently they don’t know that I know that their shitty opinion says more about them than it says about me. Or to quote a phrase my brother coined: ‘Well then fuck those fuckers.’
If we’re the ones doing the triangulating, then obviously we need to try not to do that because it’s wrong.
For instance: I’m connected pretty well with wildland fire contracting employers and I have a good reputation. I met a guy who impressed me, had a great skillset, and was eager to get into wildland fire contracting as an operator. I connected him with a personal friend for potential employment, shortly after our first encounter.
Should have been fine, except my next several encounters with the guy revealed him to be quite the raging alcoholic. Everybody drinks sometimes, and everybody even drinks too much, sometimes, but he was like super volatile, and drank when no one would have thought it an appropriate time. I regretted connecting him with my friend.
So here’s what I did. I called my friend and told him, “Hey, I could be wrong but I think this guy is bad news and you shouldn’t hire him, he’s a major liability.”
Then, I called the guy himself and said, “Hey, I just told Paul I’m to retracting my recommendation of you, because I think you have a problem with alcohol and you’ll only be a liability. I’m really sorry if that messes up your plans for the season but I want you to know that it came from me. I’m not trying to fuck you over in any way, and I’ll continue to help you if I feel comfortable with it. But fire season and heavy equipment is just not a good match for the way you drink. That’s how I feel so that’s what I did.”
He took it really well, and I think he still has his ups and downs with the bottle, but we’re still good friends to this day. Actually owe him a text back, I keep forgetting.
Anyhoo, I could have triangulated but I didn’t. Unfortunately, I’ve triangulated off against loved ones many times, in the form of venting. There’s a fine line between venting and triangulating, but they’re both a little dangerous because the pressure and the incentive to deal with a relationship in its own right and on its own terms should, I think, remain mostly the business of the two people in the relationship. And the connection between relationships self-destructing, and a lot of even well-intentioned venting and/or triangulating, is to me kind of like the chicken or the egg. Which came first? I don’t know, but it’s not good. It’s easy to justify but it’s not good.
Okay, so that brings us to our third scenario: someone comes to us and attempts to influence our thinking about a third party. Every situation is so different — I mean, most of us will be swayed if the third party is someone we don’t know well, and the triangulator is someone we do. Maybe our friend is genuinely looking out for us.
Other times, it’s just patently idiotic. I remember a girl from junior high, Heather, who was always bitchy to me, asking if she could walk home from school with me, out of nowhere. After a bit of small talk, she lowered her voice to a whisper and confided, with some zeal, that so-and-so had said I’m ugly, I have a big nose, and everyone laughs about me behind my back.
I considered this awful news in a kind of trance, while emitting a noncommittal ‘huh’. But before I could think what to do, it became obvious to me that my noncommittal reaction flustered Heather quite a bit, and so I decided to explore that a bit. I mean, if I heard something cruel about another girl, the last thing I’d do would be run up and tell her, because obviously that would hurt her feelings, right? So automatically, I didn’t regard Heather as some kind of ally; she was more of an antagonist.
Also, it should be noted: the school I went to was the kind of thought climate where you were almost obligated to initiate a fight with someone, were it to be rumored they were talking shit about you. And so as I grew up and ascended the ladder of grades, I witnessed this sort of triangulation happen all the time. Even back then, it seemed so idiotic — basically allowing others to control one’s behavior. ‘If you do that, I’m obliged to respond like this.’
But yes, according to the unspoken but widely acknowledged rules, Heather’s disclosure should have had me steaming, and aggressing the girl at her locker the next day at school, or else it proved I was a pussy, inviting further abuse. Those were the options.
But I just really liked the way Heather was squirming, I have to be honest. I even experimented with saying something nice about the other girl. “Well, she’s so pretty and popular, I’m surprised she even knows my name.” Of course I wasn’t actually surprised — I was white at a Navajo school and my dad was a teacher; everyone knew my name. “That’s a shame she thinks that of me.” Something like that, I don’t remember exactly. And it’s not that I didn’t believe Heather. Probably girls did laugh behind my back, make faces at my big Germanic nose, and think of me as ugly. Kids are the biggest assholes on planet earth, why wouldn’t any of that be true.
Anyway, I remember Heather stiffened up in some type of mute outrage and eventually bid me farewell, stalking off to her corner of the newly-constructed and already-collapsing prefab teacher housing while I meandered on to mine. It felt, oddly, like I won, on some level I couldn’t define.
We would all do well to remember that those who come running to us, with the allegedly inside scoop, may have less than our best interests in mind.
It wouldn’t have occurred to me to discuss triangulation in quite this way, with everything else that’s going on, but the poor leftists! They are without defense. It feels like my duty, almost, to mention it, even if said mention goes mostly undetected in my small corner of the blogosphere.
So, as disinformation goes, we’re all victim. Probably we’re all hoodwinked to some enormous degree, particularly as regards historical information we’ve been taught and even the emphasis certain things were given. As I speak, the internet itself is being white washed of inconvenient, counter-narrative details. All mentions of Kamala’s joking reference to prisoners begging for water was scrubbed, shortly after her inauguration as VP. Google itself is complicit in election fraud, going back to the 2016 election at least, probably further. I get entirely different results, searching in DuckDuckGo versus Google. As far as ‘knowing things’ goes, we have control over very little, which I think makes it even more imperative that we exert that control where we can.
So what can we do to avoid being manipulated by triangulators? Go to the source when we can. Go to the source when we can. Go to the source when we can. It’s so important, I said it three times. Love it, hate it, sleep on it, react however you want, but go to the source when you can.
You’d think the most affluent, tech literate, and educated humans in the history of the world would be pretty tough to fool, right, when they carry around a device all day long from which they can access nearly any information about nearly any thing?
Wrong. All you gotta do is triangulate. Convince them that thing is xyz mega-undesirable, anyone who consumes or is involved with that thing is xyz mega-undesirable, and you can basically mind-control massive segments of the population — despite their functioning internet connections, despite the evidence of their own five senses, in some cases.
Now, I’ve been caught with my pants down many, many times. It goes like this: I confidently pop off at the mouth about some thing I think I know about; in fact it’s never even occurred to me that I might not know as much about it as I think it do — and boom, someone at the table actually knows about that thing, and corrects me.
Let’s see, here’s a notable example of that. Me and Jersey were changing in the women’s locker room, after a workout. We were both stationed at Lackland Air Force Base for our Cardiopulmonary training.
She said that I had reasonably nice tits but that a very small implant surgery would do wonders.
I said, Breast implants are so tacky and gross, I don’t know what girls are thinking with those —they just do it for their disgusting misogynist boyfriends.
Jersey replied that she had breast implants and she liked them very much.
I whipped around and looked at her tits and realized, for the first time, she had great tits and actually a very small waist. I always assumed she was kind of overweight, because she always wore baggy clothes, and I tell ya — BDU’s and scrubs don’t do anything for a woman’s figure. We all look like dumpsters in those get ups. I felt immediate chagrin and embarrassment, and tried to cover it up by quipping, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize you had a boyfriend who’s a raging misogynist’ or something.
She said, in her Jersey accent, which is why we called her that: “No, I always had great tits, until after my pregnancy.”
I said, “You have kids??” I knew her kinda-sorta well by then; she’d introduced me to the right kinds of cigars to smoke at the right kinds of places with the right kinds of whiskey, and she’d really made an honest attempt to improve my taste in purses but I still hated her big dumb thousand dollar purses (her friend Gina got them for her, straight off tha truck) and was honest when I told her you couldn’t pay me to have a purse that ugly, let alone charge me for it.
“I had a pregnancy,” she emphasized.
At that point I just stopped struggling to get out of my stupid sports bra, even given the underwhelming size of my tits, and asked the horrible but unavoidable question: “Well what happened?”
She was cavalier, because she’d rather die than exhibit an emotion, and I knew this about her. “I had twins, and they were premature, and they were in the NICU for nineteen days and then they died.”
I digested this.
She continued, “And I thought I was gonna be a mother and then I wasn’t. And there was nothing I could do about it. But my fuckin tits went flat. I don’t know if it was from not nursing or what. But I got my tits fixed. I couldn’t bring them back but at least I could have tits again.”
I don’t at all remember what I said, at this point, because I was so involved with my internal commitment to never assume a woman’s reasons for getting her tits fixed, ever ever ever again. And Jersey wasn’t the hugging type, and neither was I, so I know we didn’t hug. But I stopped saying dumb bitchy things about breast implants, I can assure you that.
Now, silver lining: I have gotten to be on the other side of this scenario, every now and then. I was at a dinner table of mostly assholes, as it turns out, years ago, in grad school. Most of my memories of grad school involve most people being assholes most of the time. That’s odd — my memories of high school, junior high, all the different grade schools and all the different primary schools I attended are the same. Also kindergarten, also my one traumatic day at day care. Hm. Anyway, I was at this dinner table of mostly assholes at a restaurant that prided itself on having zero vegan menu items, and of course I was trying to shake down this fuckin’ waitress for something to eat.
It didn’t go well, but as the waitress turned to go, one girl at the table said, “At least you didn’t order TOFU, omggggg.”
I said, “Oh, they definitely don’t have tofu. They have like ten metric tons of portabellas because they all think that’s what vegans crave, but they have no tofu. Why?”
She said, “It’s just sooooo gross.” She pinched her face into a tiny little puckered sphincter.
I said, “Gross — why? It just takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with.”
She started to feel uncomfortable and chuffed, looking around for some support. Everyone ignored her. “Well, you should see how they make it.”
I knew perfectly well how to make it, but I played dumb. “How do they make it?”
She described, spontaneously, some type of vague process, and I went ahead and described for her the actual process — it’s basically like making cheese, for anyone who’s done that, but starting with soy beans and using the liquid derived from cooking and blending them, rather than dairy, and then adding an acid and it all curdles up, then you strain it and press it and, voila, tofu. It’s fucking delicious.
She salvaged the situation by turning 90 degrees and only engaging the person to her other side, for the rest of the dinner, which was fine. But you know what? She probably didn’t blithely talk shit about tofu in mixed company again, or at least not the entirely benign process by which it’s made.
Speaking of tofu, it’s one of the best examples of this form of disinformation triangulating I’m talking about. Still to this day — despite all the internet in the world — most people I meet, even foodies, even conscious consumers, are still convinced that tofu and soy generally spikes estrogen. Soy generally, and tofu specifically, actually contains phytoestrogens, which do not have estrogenic effects, that BLOCK estrogen receptors. So your body, on tofu, is less likely to absorb estrogen from diet, not more.
Meanwhile, you know what contains a shit ton of estrogen? Dairy and eggs, foods derived from the process of interrupting animals’ maternal processes. Eating dairy spikes estrogen by about 20% for some time after the meal, y’all might be interested to know. The other thing about soy is that that’s what we feed cattle, so anyone avoiding the estrogenic effects of soy by eschewing tofu and continuing to eat beef is still getting all the soy, plus a shit ton of steroids and antibiotics on top of it. Think about it.
That’s all peripheral, though — the main point I want to say is that, the internet made it possible for people to see what actually happens to animals in our current system of intensive confinement and industrialized slaughter. It’s pretty distasteful, and definitely ruins our notions of happy cows grazing green pastures until one day the farmer comes out with a gun or a garrote or a huge buck knife, or whatever it is people euphemistically imagine. That still doesn’t sound happy to me, but I’m an outlier. No, it’s just all Auschwitz, full time, all the time.
So a lot of people stood to get pretty upset about meat and how it became meat, and so Big Agra came up with a brilliant scheme: convince men that tofu would make them grow tits.
Game over. What’s a little animal cruelty, if the alternative is man tits, amiright.
This is disinformation triangulating, and it’s just one of those things that you’d easily penetrate if you thought about it for a second — ie tofu is a thousands-year-old food staple in some countries and probably men didn’t want tits there any more than they want tits here — but you don’t think about it until you think about it. That’s what I’m saying though — we all go along not really thinking about the lies we’ve been told until we’re challenged, and then it behooves us to form our own opinion, by going to the source. Finding out if that’s true. Asking if there might be some agenda for why someone would want us to believe in other-than-truth, there. Exert the very little bit of control we do have, when we find we have it. Right?
Which brings me back to the poor leftists. Only someone convinced, and indeed valorized by, the idea of a self constructed as immensely helpless and justifiably pathologized would assert a reflexive opinion, encounter someone with more direct experience of that thing, and then argue that having no experience of a thing represents, indeed, a superior position of knowledge versus the person with direct experience of the thing. Only an entrenched leftist would offer cavalier dismissal of a thing, encounter someone with direct experience of the thing, and consider themselves this person’s superior in understanding — not despite having no experience of the thing, but BECAUSE of having no direct experience of the thing!! It’s…breathtaking. It takes my breath away every time, and that’s a lot of breath, y’all. Because it’s a lot of times, now.
Probably the first situation that got this on my radar — and I should have paid closer attention — was relative to Ayn Rand. I don’t need, at this point, to spell it out blow by blow, but here’s the triangulation: I read Ayn Rand, growing up. I liked her. I’d rather read Tanith Lee any day, but Ayn Rand ain’t half bad. Gave me some good food for thought when I was fifteen, seventeen. She grew up in communism and really valued individuality and capitalistic endeavor, and decided to write books about that. Makes fuckin sense, right?
So I go on to encounter people (leftists) who are like, Ayn Rand is the devil.
I’m like, Oh, which part didn’t you like?
They’re like, Only xyz mega-undesirables would actually read her, omg get a grip.
I’m like, How can you say that if you haven’t read her? And to be clear — I’d receive anyone’s opinion with equanimity, if they read her and could at least source their claims.
But no, they were victims of triangulation. Ayn Rand will make you grow man tits. That kind of thing.
They’re basically saying, Her ideas are SO DANGEROUS that terrible things will happen to you if you read her.
I’m like, checking I still have both arms, both legs and an income. So far so good.
Okay, so that was a weird facet of my 20’s.
These days, it’s Jordan Peterson, Q, Teal Swan, Trump, and then still tofu. Pretty much in that order. No, wait. Trump, Q, Jordan Peterson, tofu, Teal Swan. In that order.
My boyfriend got into an argument on Reddit (and he loves this shit, just to be clear) with a pro-3-masker. The 3-masker guy stood on his high horse, accused my boyfriend of being selfish and a science denier. My boyfriend asked him for study showing the efficacy of 3 masks, cited the micron issues with masks generally relative to COVID19, cited the study showing masks as actually deleterious to respiratory health, the data that lockdowns seem to be less effective than areas not locked down, and stayed on the fact-level generally. This guy terminated his side of the conversation by expressing his high hopes that my boyfriend and everyone he loves dies, as painfully and slowly as possible, while never once engaging any of the actual information. The actual science.
It ends that way more often than not.
I think the thing that both of us are looking for in these debates, whether we’ve invited them or not, is for someone to engage the information. And I mean this in most basic terms. Like, counter facts with different facts. Change my mind. Show me that you understand what I’m saying but you disagree because xyz, and I’ll show you that I understand what you’re saying but I’m prone to disagree because xyz. It’s just so nice, those rare times we do encounter people out there who have a differing opinion but can back it up in some reasonable way.
What’s far more common is, they’ll initiate the Leftist High Horse maneuver. I’m too GOOD to besmirch myself with this information I’m criticizing you for having, and the fact that I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about and looking down my nose at you is virtue signal enough that I am simply a better person.
I think everyone loves a healthy debate. And there’s been a lot of, well, debate, about what can even be considered a healthy debate these days. And I’m certainly not going to solve that problem, or probably any problem, with this blog. But I just wouldn’t, in a million, billion fucking years, go out of my lane to criticize someone’s interest in xyz ideas, and if they asked me which exact part of those ideas I disagreed with, respond that I was too good to even soil myself with exploration of those ideas. Too good, or too…dare I say…too immensely helpless and justifiably pathologized. “Nay, kind sir — not only is my disposition too delicate for consumption of those ideas — it is too delicate for anyone, anywhere, to consume those ideas! I swoon!” Good lord!
So, as confusing as this trend is to me — and it is — I do think that triangulation lies at the heart of it. You don’t know you’re overextended until someone calls you out. Then you have the opportunity to *go to the source*, digest and interpret, and then you get to have whatever opinion you want, in the aftermath! I’ve watched Star Wars movies with friends, and when the lights came on, I was like “that was shite,” and they’re like, “that was great”, and you know what? They were right there in the theater with me. They get to like that movie if they want. They get to like the dialogue where Pad Mei says, But Anakin, all I want is your love! And Anakin says, Love won’t save you, Pad Mei. Only my new powers can do that.
As crazy as I think that is, they get to think what they think, because they saw what I saw and heard what I heard.
So, dear leftists: please stop constructing yourself as too fragile to withstand the things you go out of your way to criticize us for being interested in. Either mind your own business over there, or endure the confusing counter narrative assault long enough to form a specific criticism. It is total bullshit for you to cry ‘xyz mega-undesirable’ and then refuse to dip your infinitely fragile toe into the triangulated waters of what might upset you long enough to sustain a dialogue. Good lord.