Issue Lenses – Filters that Distort Everything

“When a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are his pockets”

Issue lenses take every expression and situation and filter it through a single issue. If somone was rude, “it must be because I’m a…” It assumes bigotry on the part of others while being a form of bigotry itself.

When one becomes extremely focused on a particular issue, they run the risk of filtering everything through the lens of that one issue. Things that are completely unrelated are seen as being anti-whatever you are. It creates a chicken little syndrome where the whole world is trying to oppress you.

Issue lenses kill conversations.

“Who wants to be around someone who is always thinking people must hate them for who they are?”

Having issue lenses prevents any rational, civil discourse from happening. Anything one says will be distorted through that filter. It a form of paranoia. Everyone’s out to get you. Others must hate you because you’re a certain demographic.

Such people will, of course, run into people who actually do hate them for what they are because there is no shortage of bigots. However, people with issue lenses will also ensure that people don’t like them not because of what they are, but how they react to everything. Who wants to be around someone who is always talking about how people must hate them for who they are?

People with issue lenses exist in a world of perpetual victimhood and narcissism. If something isn’t about them, they’ll make it about them. They actively seek things to be offended by, and assume the worst in every situation.

Trying to clarify your position when they make these assumptions is pointless. They’ll keep twisting and misconstruing your context, filtering it through their issue lenses, and they’ll find a way to make you the bad guy. They’ll jump through several hoops of logic twisting and context mangling to make everything about their issue.

Having issue lenses is looking at the world through shit-covered glasses.

Even if the issue itself is valid and of serious concern, they can’t see anything apart from it. Everything is somehow related to it.

Didn’t get that job? Must be because they’re black, or maybe it’s because they’re white and it’s that damn affirmative action.

Didn’t get a promotion? Must be because they’re a woman and the boss is a mansplaining misogynist, or they’re a man the boss is a “feminazi”. Didn’t get that date? Must be because they’re “plus sized” or a “nice guy”. Pick an issue and you’ll find those who think everything bad that happens to them is due to that issue.

I remember one job where I was asked to pick five people for an exercise. After I’d made my choices, a woman came up to me and said “Why didn’t you pick me? I know why! It’s because I’m a woman!” I pointed to a woman who I had chosen for the team and said “So is she. So how can that be it?” She sputtered and puffed up like a crack-addled hedgehog and said “Well, see! You’ve only got ONE woman! You’ve made her a minority, just like ALL men!” At this point I knew that nothing I could say was going to convince her otherwise. Her issue lenses were glued on so tight that you’d need a blowtorch to get them off. Not to mention she was being sexist as fuck by literally saying “all men”. I ended up saying “Well, that’s not the case. No one’s gender entered my mind. I just picked people whose skills seemed to fit the task. Yours didn’t. If you feel like being upset, have fun with that.” She kept trying to draw me in to the conversation and I said “If you think you’re right, take it up with a manager.” I never did end up hearing anything after that, but I did notice she stopped talking to me thereafter. I was just fine with that!

Sometimes right is not always right.

“If it’s a pattern in your life, maybe it’s not what you are, but how you are.”

Occasionally they’re right, and that only glues those issue lenses to their eyes more strongly. Sometimes you have a racist or sexist boss. But always? Get real. If it’s a pattern in your life, maybe it’s not what you are, but how you are. Maybe seeing everything one way and making an issue of it all the time makes you a disruptive person that gets passed up no matter how experienced and skillful you are.

People with issue lenses never give anyone the chance to be a good person. There’s no room for simple misunderstandings or nuanced context. There are no honest mistakes. No, people are against them because of what they are. That’s the only possible explanation for that look or that comment or for being excluded somehow. It can’t possibly be because they’re annoying the shit out of everyone with their exclusive focus on one thing.

No matter who or what you are, the world isn’t set against you. Look at Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, George Takei, RuPaul. They all achieved success and they were able to do it because they didn’t wear issue lenses. They were acutely aware of issues, yet took responsibility for their lives and made success happen. So can you.

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