Discrediting a view by calling it mainstream

I see a trend in social media where some (often conspiracy theorists?) not only criticize others for taking a mainstream view. They take it a step further and try to discredit a view by calling it mainstream.

I am not particularly a fan of everything mainstream. Many of the major problems in our society are almost by definition mainstream. This includes an economic and other social systems that don’t take ecological realities into account, and where an ordinary life within this system inevitably is part of the problem and damages the natural systems we depend on for literally everything.

And yet, there are many problems inherent in disqualifying a view just because you see it as mainstream.

IT MUDDLES THE WATER

By doing so, you chose to focus on a label or characteristic of a view rather than the content. You bring attention away from the content of the argument. You resort to name-calling instead of presenting your case with solid logic and data.

YOU MAY HAVE YOUR OWN MAINSTREAM

Most of us have our own mainstream. We often take on the mainstream views in the subculture or subcultures we resonate and identify with.

If we criticize others for mainstream views, we may overlook that we have our own subculture that we get our information and views from. This is our own mainstream.

We are doing what we criticize others for.

In this case, when people try to discredit a view by calling it mainstream, they have adopted a rhetoric that’s mainstream in their own subculture.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE “MAINSTREAM”?

To me, it seems a fuzzy concept and it obviously depends on culture, time, and subculture.

What do you consider mainstream?

Is it anything you or your favorite subculture happen to disagree with?

What within the mainstream do you embrace? What do you reject? Why?

Do you consider Noam Chomsky mainstream? University professors and researchers who are deeply knowledgable of and critical of how society works, and yet reach different conclusions from you? Your friend who is a doctor and has a different and more informed view on vaccines than you?

THE DIVERSITY WITHIN THE MAINSTREAM

What some call “mainstream” is, in reality, wildly diverse.

It’s not at all one set of opinions and views that everyone takes on board. 

Within our culture – and within media, politics, and science – we find a range of different views and opinions. You typically don’t have to look far to find something that’s quite different from what may appear mainstream at first glance.

You may even find a different set of data than what most use. The question here is: How solid is this data? Would it hold up in court? Would it be the type of data a reputable reporter would rely on? Even in science, it’s often easy to find data that seems to go against the typical findings in the field. In 99.9% of the cases, it’s one of the inevitable occasional statistical outliers that cannot be replicated because there is nothing there. Or the result came from weak or bad methodology and cannot be replicated with better methodology.

WHAT YOU DISMISS AS MAINSTREAM MAY BE AN INFORMED VIEW

Many within the mainstream are good critical thinkers, have a solid knowledge of their field, have no illusions about how society works, may be well aware of the views and information you rely on, and still reach a different conclusion from you. 

What looks mainstream may well be founded on critical thinking, deep knowledge about a topic, and a long journey to arrive at that particular view. What looks mainstream is often not adopted wholesale or without discernment. 

HABITUAL REJECTION?

Do you habitually reject something just because you consider it mainstream?

If we habitually react to certain views by attaching to an opposing or contrarian view, there isn’t much discernment there. We are just reacting.

WHEN I DO THE SAME

When do I disqualify a view just because I consider I assume it fits a certain category?

I sometimes do it with conspiracy theories. 

If I disqualify a view just because it’s a conspiracy theory, I do the same. Although I have to admit many of these are recycled and familiar and I am aware of the flawed logic and flawed data it’s founded on. 

ADULT VS REBELLIOUS TEENAGER DYNAMIC

When people dismiss a view by referring to it as mainstream, it’s an obvious logical fallacy. 

For me, it feels a bit embarrassing to even write about this topic, although it does transfer to other areas that are more interesting. (For instance, where do I do the same?) 

Often, when people address these topics, it can sound like an annoying adult admonishing rebellious teenagers. And that’s perhaps not a coincidence. Some of the ones who habitually criticize something because it’s mainstream behave like rebellious teenagers. They seem to have recently discovered some of the many problems inherent in how our society works and react to them by rejecting whatever is mainstream without much discernment.

They act on reactivity. They lack a more nuanced understanding and approach. They often throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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