Patronizing Patrons Outside Your Own Community vs. Being a Patron Inside Your Own Community

One of my good friends (the kind that actually try to push back on the kinds of things I often say) has been hammering away for some time at my attitude – sort of calling it patronizing.

I beg to differ.

But before I address that, let me note something about “patronage”. I think this general term means vastly different things in different contexts or from different perspectives. I think it has a lot to do with “in-group” (“we” / “us”) vs. “out-group” (“the others”) perspective. From a narcissist’s point of view, patronizing attitude is a “looking down upon” the out-group. I can sense this perspective if / when I think about the others being fooled by propaganda, for example. In this case, they are / become the patrons of propaganda and thereby consume it as factual, unquestionable, etc. Being a patron in the context of communications, understanding or similar exercises in enlightenment means clarifying, contextualizing, contributing to “sense-making” (much in the tradition of Brenda Dervin’s use of the term).

Much of what I say here was precipitated via a discussion between Joe Rogan and Melissa Chen, broadly about free speech, but in particular and quite poignantly their agreement that if people shut down free speech, then it is often because of an attitude of patronizing others (i.e., to use Joe Rogan’s words):

Those people are dumber than you; you’re smarter; you know better; you need to stop these people from being tricked [by propaganda].

[ Joe Rogan Experience #1427 “Melissa_Chen”, 1:01:55; the discussion of this topic begins @ just shy of 58 min]

Another primary factor in this analysis is the separation into “in-group” vs. “out-group”. For our purposes here, we will simplify this as a simple demarcation of linguistic communities – and we need not get into the precise specification of dialect, slang, jargon, etc. sub-communities. For us, it will suffice to paint the picture in broad strokes without getting caught up in the fine details of ands, ifs, buts, etc.

Now if people look at others and point fingers, saying the other people think this way or that way, then I think this is patronizing. I feel this must happen when anyone functions as (takes on the role of) writers or readers. The writer or the reader treats each other as others – as dialectical partners. If communication channels are closed (as they typically are in the case of retard media), then the linguistic communities are separated. If, on the other hand, communication channels are open to participation, if community engagement is possible, welcomed, even desired and warm invitations are expressed and clearly communicated, then participants who actually do engage and communicate are thereby contributing to the discourse and engaging in the development of the shared, common language. I believe my own work (i.e., what I refer to as engagement with “rational media”) falls into the latter category. The former is patronizing, the latter is being / acting as a patron of the shared / common language – in the development of mutual understanding, by engaging in negotiation of meaning.

If / When I point out that retard media is built on a “propaganda” model, I do not patronize the patrons of that business model – they inflict that upon themselves by engaging / participating in that community. The institutions patronizing them are the advertisers (those who are responsible for the advertisements), not the persons who observe / point out the way the advertising industry works, the way the participants in that industry are behaving, engaging, interacting, etc. with their targets.

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