(EDIT: Post trimmed as much as possible to save length)
So yeah. Its Xmas day here. My family has some friends over for dinner. All is good. But not quite, one of the people at the dinner loves to talk.
Now I should preface this rant by explaining that this guy is a normal person. Some strengths, some flaws, just like everyone else. But he just happens to be unbelievably biased when it comes to foreign politics. If there was a kingdom named Opinion, then he would be King Toobias of the Uneven Throne. Case in point: China. He can't shut up about China. Every time we just happen to be sitting in the same place, out comes the China monologues. CHINA STRONG. CHINA CAN DO NO WRONG. WISE COMMUNIST PARTY. It would be a discussion, except I learned long ago that any response at all just extends the conversation. I have tried many times to explain that talking about politics makes me uncomfortable, but that just makes him default to Rant B, which is YOU SHOULD KNOW, PEOPLE MUST BE INFORMED.
His worldview is based on three primary sources of information. CCTV (Chinese Central TV), CNN, and BBC. Yeah. He despises BBC for being horribly biased. But seems to watch them simply to validate his opinion that CCTV is incredibly fair and equal. And he only watches CNN so that he can sneer at the (admittedly baffling) web of American politics.
So of course he would talk about China during Christmas dinner.
He began about the time the usual "this food is great" comments died down. He was still stalking about China by the time we got to the pie. Which no one mentioned because they couldn't get a word in edgewise. Heavily paraphrased, one part of the dialog went like this:
- Us:(Another visiting friend in this case) Did you hear about that town in rebellion about the sale of land to developers? There seems to have been plans to build a power station opposed by the townsfolk.
- Him: "Oh yes, China's economy is very strong. There are many opportunities for businesses to expand and bring developments to rural towns."
- Us: "But supposedly the sale of the land was not fair. Either the villagers were opposed to selling the land in the first place or they received very little compensation."(maybe both? I don't know much about it).
- Him: (I don't remember the exact response, but it basically amounted to a "needs of the few vs needs of the nation" spiel")
- Us: "But now the government has declared martial law, and the negotiator the villagers sent to talk later died in police custody."
- Him: "If there is corruption then this is a good thing, because now the central government is aware of the corruption and will take steps to deal with it. This happens all the time."
Boggles the mind doesn't it? He sounds like a propaganda poster, but ONLY on this very specific subject. Part of what makes it so difficult to converse with him is that when it comes to politics any flaws in his arguments or blemishes on something he tries to uphold are simply ignored. That or be brings up another point which is somehow supposed to excuse it.
How do people become like this? It it because information is so readily available and some people just can't process it all? Or is it because every single source of information can't help but be biased? When you speak of an event, you can attach whole pages of connected facts. This gives you great control over the tone of what you say, even if the facts do not change. We call this concept "spin", and those Big Three news outlets I mentioned earlier are full of it. Let me give you an example.
- Woman hit by car, dies in hospital. (bare bones information, this is how a robot computer would record it, a statistic)
- Woman hit by car, alchohol or drugs may have played a part (Dohoho! Whats this now? I think "may" and "maybe" are the most overused words in news reporting)
- Jaywalking woman hit by car, driver traumatized.
- Jaywalking woman hit by car, driver talking on cellphone
Its gotten to the point where I honestly don't give a sh*t about news these days. But some people can't seem to get enough, no matter the quality.
To be fair, I once had the equivalent of this conversation about how to make a pizza with someone just as opinionated.
Rant over I guess. So have a merry christmas! And call me back when we land a human on Mars. Maybe then I'll turn on my tv.