On 1/2/23 during an important football game, the Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin has suddenly collapsed on the field - after sustaining an impact to chest area. He has been transported to hospital and as of 1/5/23 remains there in critical condition. Millions of viewers saw this tragic incident unfolding in real time. Millions more followed its aftermath. The social media reaction to that tragedy was not hard to predict in the era of severe political polarization.
To read the full Disclaimer: Click here | Last Updated: 01/05/23
Power of Irregularity
The unexpected disruptor/enhancer of the Narratives
Term “narrative” used to mean simply an account of a series of related events. It was not a political term per se. However, recently this word is applied to describe the instrument of political manipulation. The “political narrative” refers to the informational story which was consciously concocted - not to reflect objective reality - but to deliberately shape the perception of facts in accordance with the specific hidden agenda.
Narratives are politically useful. Therefore, the politicians on both side of the isle support the art of making effective narratives. Ultimately the objective, dry description of reality has been replaced by two competing narratives: Left Wing and Right Wing. Those partisan narratives started to take over all aspects of life including science and medicine. Political narratives are misleading by definition, however they use both truth and lies to manipulate its targets. Therefore, it is important to remember that the information contained in the political narratives - can still be either true or false.
With Damar Hamlin tragedy we have witnessed the significant power that the phenomenon of the Automatic Assumption about Irregularity has over both Political Narratives. That phenomenon is one of the strongest disruptors/enhancers of the Political Narratives.
As of the date of this post (1/5/23) the media reported that Damar Hamlin experienced a cardiac arrest and has been transported to hospital where he remains in critical condition (Ref).
Soon after the Damar Hamlin shocking incident, speculations about what caused it started. Many members of the general public, pundits, influencers and medical experts from both partisan camps went on social media and presented their theories (Ref), (Ref). It has been reported that views of the tweets related to this tragedy exceeded millions (Ref). In general, two divergent opinions dominated:
“The COVID-19 vaccine was a culprit” claimed one group
“It was caused by a rare but well documented athletes condition commotio cordis and the vaccine had nothing to do with it” asserted the opposing group.
The cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest has not been officially released as of the date of this post.
The objective observer will note that:
Despite the confidence of those who assert firmly that they know the reason for this tragedy - it may not be possible to establish with absolute certainty what caused the Hamlin tragic incident.
But that DOES NOT MATTER from the purely political perspective. Because, that irregular incident has automatically enhanced one political narrative while putting the other in the defensive mode.
The REAL CAUSE of this statistically rare event naturally matters a lot - for many people. It matters to Damar Hamlin’s family, to his friends, fans, fellow players and many others. However, politically the actual culprit is less relevant than the fact that in the current polarized world almost half of the Americans will vigorously claim that COVID-10 vaccination was a culprit while the second half will swear that it was everything but not the vaccination.Ultimately for better or worse: the position of the first half has been enhanced (even if only temporarily) while the the strength other half have been diminished by that irregularity.
Any irregular event that can be connected to the main tenets of opposing narratives will cause significant disruption of the stalemate between two opposing political narratives. Such aberrations can significantly boost one narrative while undermining the other one. Amazingly, this can happen independently of the fact if those anomalies were actually and truly related to the leading claims of the two opposing narratives.
There are two important lessons one can learn from this tragic event and its aftermath. First, there is an interesting and uncomfortable paradox here. Namely, it is conceivable that in the extremely polarized world even potentially false interpretations of the irregularity can theoretically serve well the true narrative while weakening the false one. Second, the attempts to suppress the inconvenient information is not an effective long term strategy. Life is unpredictable. The unexpected problematic aberrations - can bring the suppressed annoying information right in the open.
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