Once more with feeling

In my last meta-announcement about the blog, I had realized that my old beat was depressing me. I’ve since gained a bit of nuance – my old beat is still important to me, although the ways I engaged with it still posed a problem. At that time I hinted that I knew I wanted to do something different, but didn’t entirely know what. I’m committing to “being back,” and here’s what is changing:

Different Input

Social media is useful for bringing things to one’s attention, but at least in my case, both the volume and severity posed serious risks to my mental health. This by itself would be reason enough to change my engagement with sites like Twitter, but it’s also aggravated by social media’s tolerance for deeply abusive people and movements who say things to me that should frankly be unconscionable. What this means:

  1. I will be intentionally avoiding commentating on current events on social media; and
  2. I will frequently be unfollowing or muting users, key words, or hashtags pertaining to current events (it’s nothing personal, just controlling when and how I access distressing material)

It is already the case that I don’t promise active engagement on any of my outputs after they’re released, so I reiterate that again, I suppose.

Also no more journalism. Academia comes with many problems but they’re at least subjectively preferable to me compared to journalism’s problems.

Different Output

I’ve been giving in-person presentations and conferences on a variety of topics for the better part of 6 years, and at least one silver lining in the pandemic is that my remote delivery thereof helped me envision alternative formats in which to make them. Since I’m still receiving positive receptions for these, I thought I’d try my next project in video format.

I’ve wanted to do a more structured series that allows a reader (or viewer) to build a stronger foundation and apply it with increasing complexity and practicality as the series progresses – a bit like a course, albeit one without testing. And I think I can do it within a larger project I’ve had about rooting philosophy in practical applications. I do not dispute that philosophy as a discipline can be vulnerable to excessive abstraction, but I would object to the idea that this vulnerability means it never has meaningful applications in day-to-day life.

So the next year is going to be focused on the philosophy of human rights: How theories of their origins and properties can cultivate neo-liberalism as a self proclaimed “suprapolitical” (i.e. “moral”) position; whether such a “suprapolitical claim” is fair to make for neo-liberalism; what theories of human rights can explain about attitudes towards the rights of children and their implications for both youth and parents; how and why nascent neofascist movements deploy human rights-sounding rhetoric to advance their aims; the implications the current state of geopolitics has on human rights as a theory; and finally how human decency might be defined and societally practiced in contexts that do not rely on human rights. Or in plain language: Lots of folks know shit is fucked up and know they want change, maybe I can help you anticipate pitfalls in the things you’d like to change.

In some cases this will follow my academic work. I don’t intend to self-cite if I can avoid it, and it will be clear when I do finally indulge, but the main reason I don’t think this project threatens said work is because it’s going to try and be accessible to people outside the subject-matter expertise.

In academia I wouldn’t normally have to worry about this, but since this is the internet, I’ll post a boilerplate disclaimer: I am not arguing that the pursuit of human decency is not an important or worthwhile project; I am describing how the construction of rights as they are currently understood and implemented can promote or impede that pursuit.

Take care of yourselves and each other, and see you again soon. :)