The Insincere Waffle or Living as a Conflicted Pancake
Imagine this: you are someone with strong opinions and an external processor who enjoys sharing your thoughts with other people and hearing their take on it too: for the sake of this post, we will call this kind of idea-extrovert a Pancake. But, you are also highly conflict averse, causing you to avoid, alter and pull-back your opinions depending on your threat assessment of potential personal conflict: making you, for all intents and purposes, a Waffle. Face it, a waffle is really just a tortured pancake: you take the same basic recipe and add a ton of extra oil, pour into into a cast iron machine and squeeze it between two unforgiving plates....
There is nothing wrong with a waffle. Some people even prefer it to a pancake. If the batter is poured evenly and carefully, Waffles are reliably tasty. But what if that batter really wanted to be a pancake- to flow freely into the frying pan- to rise to the height of the baking powder induced air bubbles, but instead was forced into the waffle iron? Would that constitute breakfast food torture? What if- and stay with me here- the batter went ahead and poured itself out into the frying pan to be a pancake, and some jerks smashed it down with a spatula and kept it from rising? Would it choose the next time to simply avoid the spatulas and pour itself into the innocuous and safe waffle iron?
In the last two weeks I wrote, posted, and then deleted two blogs critical of Facebook and the ways in which it is structured to increase snap judgements and to mimic "community" by encouraging people to normalize passing judgement on each other. I do believe this is problematic. Not just FB, but also my unwillingness to share my thoughts about FB because I am so uninterested in being flattened by all those damn spatulas.
So at first, I tried to think of ways to be an interesting waffle. To come up with stories to share that won't draw the ire of all those spatulas. But the problem is that waffles aren't very compelling. You can dress up a waffle with special toppings to make them appealing- or even tell that story about the time the waffle burned, or you mixed up the recipe and made an alarmingly bad tasting waffle; and let's not forget those complimentary hotel waffle machines. But in the end, it is still a waffle, and if the batter was really wanting to be a pancake, it feels insincere.
I think this is why I have such nostalgia for school, particularly college- but also high school. Though there were occasional spatula moments in class, it was much more often a place where the expression, exchange and debate of ideas happened without personal conflict. Maybe it was because we were encouraged to think critically, we were more open to the criticism being of the ideas, and not the person. It wasn't some perfect frying pan- there were times I felt the press of the misogyny spatula- I was the sole woman in my senior Spinoza seminar and had comically sexist experiences which felt very personal- but it was a place where ideas were allowed to rise, and pancakes took shape based on the rigor with which we discussed them. And I miss that in modern, web-based community.