Quantcast

«

»

Jan 21 2013

If you self-identify

On Twitter -

This is a public information announcement: If you self-identify as a “freethinker” or a “progressive” it can seem just a tad conceited.

So does that mean it’s conceited to write for The Freethinker? Probably. Oh well.

(The truth is I don’t self-identify as either of those, because it’s true, it does sound conceited. I don’t like self-flattering labels, and I do avoid them. I prefer neutral, factual ones, when I can find them. That’s part of why I found Shermer’s jeers about “self-declared secular feminists” bizarre, when surely both words are factual more than they are self-flattering. But not calling oneself a freethinker doesn’t preserve one from doing things like writing for The Freethinker. What is one supposed to do? Ask them to change the name? But it’s a good name, and it’s been that name since the 19th century.

Anyway patrolling other people’s vanity can seem just a tad conceited, too. “Just saying.”)

17 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    sawells

    Apparently self-identifying as a “freethinker” can seem conceited…. whereas self-identifying as a personal friend of Jesus is considered perfectly normal. Guess which one is the bigger problem?

  2. 2
    Jeremy Shaffer

    If you self-identify as a “freethinker” or a “progressive” it can seem just a tad conceited.

    It only seems conceited to people who fail to think freely or are regressive, whether they self- identify that way or not.

  3. 3
    Ani J. Sharmin

    I don’t particularly like certain self-flattering labels, either, which is why I never particularly liked the idea of people calling themselves “Brights”. Then again, it’s not so surprising that people will choose a positive-sounding name for their group, and it’s kind a fine line where you cross from trying to portray a positive image to being conceited (especially if judging solely on the name and not on the content of what someone said).

    It’s an often used argument, but: What’s more conceited: believing that humans are at the center of God’s plan or that we are a small part of a huge universe that doesn’t even know we’re here? (Also, for the word “progressive”: What’s more conceited: believing that we have made mistakes and can improve things (i.e. progress) or believing that we already have the information we need an can continue based on tradition, even if that tradition favors us and hurts others?)

    @sawells (comment #1):

    Apparently self-identifying as a “freethinker” can seem conceited…. whereas self-identifying as a personal friend of Jesus is considered perfectly normal. Guess which one is the bigger problem?

    This. It always frustrates me when only a minority group doing something gets criticized for it while a majority group doing the same thing more frequently, with actual discriminatory actions thrown in, isn’t criticized as frequently—probably because their conceited behavior is an accepted part of society and goes unnoticed.

  4. 4
    Nicole Introvert

    I am curious as to how “freethinker” sounds as if it could be conceited. I agree with #3 Ani, that I would never associate with the label “Bright” because I think it speaks to intelligence, which for me is more like flickering 4 watt night light. I’ve used freethinker to describe that my thought process is not confined to one set of ideals. I am open and free to think about what I choose, and I enjoy doing so. Now whether I am any good at it… that would be a different set of labels.

  5. 5
    ibbica

    But it’s a good name, and it’s been that name since the 19th century.

    Maybe, but all old-timey language sounds conceited. At least have the decency to misspell it in a creative way! Anytime anyone is precise in their language (e.g. using correct grammar and spelling, using any of those ‘obscure’ words that really have only one very specific meaning), is eliist! Or something. :P

  6. 6
    Dan Bye

    The Freethinker gets this kind of thing all the time. We don’t really care. But the point, of course, is that “freethinker” and “freethought” are words with histories of meaning of their own; they don’t exist only for the purpose of massaging our egos.

    Dan

  7. 7
    Sastra

    If writing for The Freethinker is a tad conceited, what does that say about writing for Vanity?

    Perhaps Christopher Hitchens just took the easy way out by becoming an unapologetic elitist.

  8. 8
    atheist

    If this idiot really cares whether people call themselves “progressive” or “freethinker” on Twitter, can you imagine the resentment they must be stewing in in real life?

  9. 9
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    Eh, I like “progressive”, personally. Mostly because I don’t like “liberal”–the more I learn about political movements and philosophy, the more I realize that I’m not a liberal. (I identify more with the radical, socialist movements.) But in the everyday use of the word, where liberal basically means “not conservative,” yeah, I’m a liberal. Most people don’t want a political science lecture when having a casual discussion about politics, so I need an easy way to let people know where I stand on issues. But it still bugs me to ID as a liberal(personal feeling; I know it’s silly) and since folks often use “progressive” as a synonym for “liberal”, I go with that.

    I never really thought about it as sounding concieted, though. Huh. I guess I can see that. But I still say nothing is more concieted than people calling themselves “pro-life”, and it pisses me off beyond words that the anti-choice crowd won the language battle on that, especially when most of them so obviously don’t give a damn about actual lives.

  10. 10
    Kelseigh

    Dunno about the whole “conceited” thing, sounds like something not worth caring about. As to the terms, I’m inclined to say “freethinker” falls into the same category as “ally”. It’s not so much something you are as something you do.

    As to progressive, I personally don’t use it as a lable much. But it does describe my values.

  11. 11
    Jafafa Hots

    I prefer the term “dangerous left-wing radical” myself.

  12. 12
    Ophelia Benson

    Dan, we get it at Freethought blogs all the time, too. We try to explain about the word and its history, but it slides off.

  13. 13
    tonysnark

    I remember when I used to identify as an anarchist, and I used to have to follow that up with a long description of just what it meant to call myself that. It was so much work to explain what that meant that eventually it was easier to just dispense with the label. Strangely, I never really feel like doing that with feminism. In fact sometimes I feel like getting a custom-made made baseball bat with the word “feminist” embossed on the side to clobber the more persistent misogynistic assholes with.

  14. 14
    Bill Openthalt

    It might be a case of projection of the twit (or is it twitterer?). If it (what’s the grammatical gender of a twit?) were to call itself “freethinker” or “progressive”, it would mean it believed everybody else to be regressive dumbasses.

  15. 15
    theobromine

    Never did like “Bright”, but I’ve always thought that the idea of identifying as a “freethinker” is that one is declaring one’s commitment to the principles and values of freethought (by which I mean critical thinking, rationalism, and an evidence-based approach to discerning truth), but is not a claim that one is always successful at doing it. On that basis, I don’t see the arrogance or conceit (except that I suppose we *are* being presumptuous when we dismiss “other ways of knowing”).

  16. 16
    Ant (@antallan)

    It seems to me that “self-identified” is being used by others as a reflexive “so-called” — that is, with the sense “claims to be, yet isn’t really”, and the implication, or insinuation, “so why should we pay any attention to what they say about feminism/freethought/LGBT rights/&c.”

    Just a thought…

    /@

  17. 17
    ildi

    The truth is I don’t self-identify as either of those, because it’s true, it does sound conceited.

    Hmmm, news to me; besides, I get paid to think! So, is it conceited to self-identify as a scientist? Also, I thought progressive became the new liberal when liberal became the new socialist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>