Surely you’ll have noticed that it’s not just difficult but legitimately impossible to have a productive conversation with someone once they get into Woke ideological territory. You’re not misperceiving the situation, and it’s not you who is the problem. It is nearly impossible to talk productively about Woke topics with the Woke. There are a number of reasons for this, and among them is a little-known truth about the psychology of conversation. If you’ve ever heard a Woke person saying that disagreeing with them causes “harm,” “trauma,” or “literally erases their identity,” you’ll know what I’m getting at.
When I was doing the research to write How to Have Impossible Conversations with Peter Boghossian back in 2018, I was lucky enough to read a wonderful book that was produced from within the Harvard Negotiations Project, a book called Difficult Conversations (Stone, Patton, and Heen, 2010). In that book, we learn that conversations take place on (at least) three psychological levels at once while we tend to believe they’re completely logical and operating just on the most superficial of those levels, which is the factual level. In reality, there are emotional and, importantly, identity-based levels to our conversations as well, and the deeper into that stack you go, the less likely you are to be able to have productive dialogue. This is where Wokeness is particularly insidious because it places all conversations deeply into the emotional and especially identity levels, guaranteeing that they cannot go productively across disagreement or connect with facts. Join me in this episode of my subscribers-only podcast, James Lindsay OnlySubs, to understand more about this psychological reality to conversations, especially with the Woke, and what you might be able to do about it.
Previous episodes of OnlySubs can be found here.
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