Is it possible to care about something without caring about it? This sounds like an odd question to ask, but to me, it makes perfect sense. There is always tragedy happening around the world and with the growth of the internet, we all know about some of them. Logically and abstractly, I care about if people are hurt or dying unnecessarily. I would never cheer on their demise; however, I don’t care.

The phrase “I don’t care” sounds extremely harsh to say in response to tragedy because we aren’t allowed to vocalize this anymore. There used to be a time when someone else’s issue was just that, their issue. For example, if there is some conflict happening in the Middle East, I don’t like that there is a conflict and people may be dying unnecessarily, yet I still don’t care.

Saying “I don’t care” in this situation is the shorthand way of saying “I don’t care enough to get emotionally invested”. This is vastly different from being okay with the outcome.

With the growth of social media, we now get to hear about every demographic’s issues and how it affects them. We are supposed to constantly care about everyone else’s outcomes, but this care tends to come at a cost. We pay an emotional tax every time we fight arbitrary battles that have nothing to do with us individually.

Every demographic believes that their issue is the primary issue and we all need to stand for their issue, but they can never really answer why someone should care to the level that they do when it doesn’t impact them? Is it simply for the goodness of your heart? If that’s the case, the goodness of my heart only has so much capacity and I choose not to deplete it with every bleeding-heart moment that exists in our society.

What makes these situations more difficult is that not only do you have to decide which tragedy to care about, but now which offensive situation you’re supposed to be outraged over. If you do not clutch your pearls when they do, then your character will be challenged because saying you don’t care is no longer acceptable.

Advocacy is a personal choice, and no one is entitled to our advocacy. The problem is when people’s emotions are running high, they become selfish about the desires of their demographic and we don’t have the stomach to tell someone who is offended that this is not our fight.

I am but one person and I cannot fight every battle that lays before me. If I choose to, you may get my momentary sympathy, but you are not entitled to my advocacy. It is the exercising of this choice that becomes more offensive than what originally offended them.

With the controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle’s latest standup “The Closer”, an acquaintance of a particular demographic took major issue with one of Dave’s jokes. They were insistent that what he said was absolutely wrong & unforgivable. When they looked at me to see my outrage, unfortunately for them, there was none. I simply don’t care.

I gave my momentary sympathy, but their fight is not mine and they are not entitled to have me as a soldier fighting alongside them. This was not enough for them and they made the swift decision to end all communication moving forward.

What this person did not understand about me is that I’m a damn near absolutist when it comes to freedom of speech. If I don’t like what someone says, I ignore them and move on with my life. I do not have the desire nor energy to enroll myself into the “word police academy”. I would much rather leave room for people to say vile things that I disagree with in order for us to see who they truly are and fight their terrible ideas with better ideas.

There is this assumption that we have this imaginary power to stop people from being who they are by believing if we just get one more person to be emotionally invested, we can stop them forever. People who practice cancel culture tactics believe that silencing someone is akin to socially killing them, but they are still alive and far angrier than before.

I have no desire to cancel Dave Chappelle, just like I have no desire to cancel David Duke. I am principled in believing and wanting people to speak their mind, no matter how vile it may be. You can’t combat bad ideas if people never speak and the more we shut down people’s voices, the thinner the margins become for what will be considered “hate speech”.

No one is entitled to my emotions in any circumstance. No one is entitled to my advocacy in any circumstance. My decision to be emotionally invested alongside you or not is based on my personal principles and not on your personal entitlement.

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