Have you ever argued with someone who makes you feel crappy about yourself for the views you espouse? I call these types of people “Admiralbills.” Admiralbill was my old nemesis from the now defunct message board called “Sistertrek.” He had a personality type I have observed in all corners of the internet, talk radio and conservative cable news.
Typical examples of the Admiralbill personality type include Ann Coulter, Michael Voris, Anchormom, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. This personality type is almost always conservative although there are some liberal examples. Bill Maher comes to mind. The liberals tend to be atheists interestingly enough. The conservative ones long for a return to a more virtuous era, blaming change and liberalism for the downfall of civilization.
The reason the Admiralbills of the world make you feel crappy is they make their points by shaming their opponents. They label their opponents weak, lazy, stupid dishonest with the implication that you are possessed by these same qualities if you agree with them. Admiralbills are bullies and try to intimidate their opponents into admitting they are correct or otherwise giving in to their point of view.
Admiralbills are unforgiving. They will use any olive branch their opponents offer against them as evidence of guilt.
Another interesting trait shared by many within this personality type (mostly the conservative ones) is that they talk in clichés. They typically have a snappy, prefabricated phrase always at the ready with which to label their opponents. Perhaps this technique makes it easier for them to remember their arguments. It seems a little intellectually lazy; almost a technique to avoid thinking in an Orwellian sense. Once an opponent is labeled they become that label and cease to be a person deserving respect in the eyes of an Admiralbill.
Admiralbills subscribe to a shame based morality structure. They believe shame is what keeps civilization intact. If someone is not pulling their weight or otherwise acting immoral they deserved to be shamed. What the Admiralbills of the world do not seem to realize is that their motivation to shame other people is not virtuous as they would like to believe but is really only a replaying of the shaming they received when their own morality structure was imposed upon them. They possess a loyalty to this system of shame and often become enraged when this system is challenged. Challenging this system touches the very core of their sense of self and has to be protected at all costs. They view the people who challenge this system as literally trying to destroy their world. This is why there can be no compromising with Admiralbills. Compromise destroys their world and the people who seek to compromise are traitors and terrorists.
This system of shame is passed on to others by shaming them. When a person is shamed they will instinctively want to shame other people because this lessens their own shameful feelings momentarily. It is a primitive, dominating instinct like dogs humping dogs and prisoners humping prisoners. But like an addiction the desire to shame other people can never be fully satiated. In this way shame repeats itself over and over and spreads like a virus from one host to another.
How do I know all this? Because I was once one of them. I was trapped in the shame dynamic. I was miserable but I did not want to see past it because shame had convinced me that to challenge shame is disloyal and treasonous. Breaking out of this dynamic was an eye-opening and liberating experience. It all starts with awareness of the cycle. With awareness the burning desire to pass along shame begins to diminish. There is more to it but that is the start.
My last blog post was a critique of a post written by a woman calling herself Anchormom. Part of me tried to write my critique in a non judgmental way but that was really impossible. There is part of me that judges her because I expect she would judge me (if she read my blog). I was preemptively judging her so to speak. I feel like I have encountered her type before. She is Admiralbill from Sistertrek. She is Michael Voris. She is that conservative, self-righteous, judgmental, I’m right and you are wrong type that really gets under my skin. (Note: I fully realize that I am basing my condemnation of her on one blog post she wrote and to a lesser extent the smug picture of herself she attached to her blog, and the fact that she calls herself Anchormom. All these facts about her annoy me and I know this has more to do with me than her). I don’t like these types of people because I don’t like being judged. I don’t like being judged because I was judged as a kid and it hurt me and I never really got over it. Now when I am judged (or I perceive that a person might be in a position to judge me as is the case with Anchormom whom I assume will never actually read a word I have written) it stirs up these old hurts within me and I then feel the need to lash out at other people. I do this in a judgmental way. I do this in a passive aggressive way (to allow for deniability).
Still there is another part of me that feels my critique of Anchormom was legitimate. I should not let the petty, ego driven, shame based part of me derail my criticism of her entirely simply because it piggy backed on to the logical points I made and thus derived a sense of satisfaction out of the hurt feelings I imagine Anchormom could potentially have if she ever read my blog post. (Note: so far I think only one person has read the post and I think he is part of the Entitlement Generation Anchormom originally criticized in the blog post I criticized in my last blog post).
So where do we stand here? Anchormom criticizes the Entitlement Generation because she thinks her point of view will somehow reform them or cause other people to agree with her and eventually tip the scales against the Entitlement Generation in favor of the Silent Majority of neo-conservatives. I in turn criticize Anchormom by opining that her real motivation is to shame the Entitlement Generation out of a sense of loyalty to her parents generation who originally shamed her into adopting this conservative outlook. And now I acknowledge that I (or part of me) wrote my critique of Anchormom motivated by a desire to frustrate her and make her feel ashamed just as I was frustrated and made to feel ashamed when I was young. I did this because her condescending tone stirred up these old feelings of inadequacy inside me.
If this does not adequately encapsulate the crazy, insane, overcomplicated, dishonest and exhaustingly self-defeating nature of shame I don’t know what does.
There is a meme floating about the internet condemning the “Entitlement Generation.” An article written by a woman calling herself Anchormom seems to typify the spirit of this opinion. In short, Anchormom argues that the current generation of young adults (I assume this means teen agers to late 20s) lacks the virtue embodied by the “Greatest” generation of World War II warriors / Depression survivors and to a lesser extent the Baby Boom generation that followed. From what I gather, Anchormom is of the Baby Boom generation.
She uses one example of a girl who wore inappropriate clothing to work and then refused to change into something more appropriate when asked to do so by her boss. She uses this girl as an example which presumably in the mind of Anchormom typifies the entire generation.
My first reaction is that I am not convinced this girl represents the entire generation Anchormom describes. Certainly all the young servicemen and women who went off to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan refute her position that this generation is an “entitlement generation.” I don’t argue that no one in this generation is entitled in the way she describes but is that not true of every generation?
Anchormom also describes how her mother hit her with a wooden spoon to discipline her when she was young and seems to be insulted by another person reacting critically to this. The way she reacted to this criticism is telling. Instead of explaining that the criticism took the spoon out of context she exclaims “I honestly had to laugh.” This response (in my opinion) was intended to shame the person who criticized her mother’s disciplinary technique. This suggests to me that behind the spoon her mother used on her was an energy of shame, a shame that Anchormom feels compelled to defend out of a sense of loyalty. This is typical of the shame dynamic.
It depends very much on the energy that was behind the spoon. If the energy was shaming then it doesn’t matter if Anchormom’s brothers are a journalist a doctor and an HR executive (as Anchormom boasts). If the energy was shamming then I suspect they’re probably not living happy lives despite their lofty positions and passing their shame onto others just as Anchormom is trying to do in this article.
The tone of Anchormom’s writing comes off very judgmental and condescending further suggesting the motivation behind her writing is her own shame and the desire to pass on this shame to others to make her feel better about herself. In another paragraph Anchormom comes off defensive, critical and angry where she compiles a list of things her generation “didn’t do” in comparison to her “entitlement” generation. Again, the characteristics of this tone suggest shame is her motivation and are also typical of the shame dynamic.
In defense of Anchormom and her parents, the world was tough during the depression and World War II era. In that generation it was probably justified for parents to use corporal punishment to get their kids in line because the stakes were too high if they didn’t. Survival was at stake. However, survival is no longer at stake in the same way and since that time the cultural pendulum probably has swung too far in the touchy-feely direction. I’m not a fan of political correctness but I’m also not a fan of shaming others as a means of behavior control and a sense of loyalty to shame. The impact on their lives and the lives they will impact in turn is just too negative and miserable. I understand Anchormom’s nostalgia for her youth and an era that seemed better to her in many respects. But I suspect her motivation in writing this article has less to do with her desire to reform this “entitlement generation” and more to with her subconscious desire to pass on the shame that was passed on to her.