The more naive interpretation of the phrase is instead represented by “self-aware”, if that’s helpful.
Hm, I guess that’s a slightly stronger claim, but I do endorse it now that I think about the distinction; not to the point where every single such piece of advice should come bundled with an unsolicited painfulness model, but to the point where if you’re giving painful advice you should have the model on hand.
What I mean is more like “if someone is suggesting that you do something painful, they should present you with a model of why and how that pain is okay”. This doesn’t rule out misappropriation—I’m sure cult leaders and certain brands of interpersonal abusers do it handily, especially if they’re weaponizing guilt—but it’s at least robust against generic, opaque commands to “suck it up”, and if you go in with that expectation you’ll have an opportunity to notice something is wrong if someone tells you that you shouldn’t be in pain and your pain is invalid (they don’t have a model that describes the thing you are in fact feeling, so they don’t have a good model of the situation as a whole).
I think those examples are fine in many possible contexts. You can make a blog post with either instance as content just fine. My objection would come up if someone said “incel” and you said it was a horrible word instead of responding to their statement about incels—make that suggestion at another time. You could, if genuinely puzzled, ask if they mean incels as in lonely or incels as in violent misogynists, but I think context will tend to make that clear. And where it doesn’t they don’t in fact mean one of those things—they mean the conflation, and the word communicated that!
I want to point out that there are lots of situations where English speakers fluently use words that don’t have clear dividing lines between their applicability and their inapplicability—it depends on context and details. “The music is loud.” What if I’m deaf or far away or like to be able to feel the bass line in my bones? That doesn’t make the sentence impermissible or even hard to understand and I don’t need the speaker to produce a decibel value. “If you go to high altitudes, the air is thinner and you might get dizzy.” How high? If I’m dizzy in Denver and the speaker thinks you shouldn’t need to adjust your behavior until there are Sherpas about and meanwhile Batman can breathe in space, that doesn’t make the sentence false, let alone useless. “It’s cold, bring a jacket.” Oh you sweet summer child, I’m good in short sleeves, thanks, I just don’t know what you meant by “cold” -
There are lots of conversational purposes for which you don’t in fact have to know where someone draws the line. You don’t even need to be able to agree on every point’s ordering in the spectrum (“it’s colder today” “that’s just windchill”). The words gesture in a direction. I think “chemicals” does too, and you know what direction because you came up with “unprocessed” as a gloss on “low in chemicals”. If someone doesn’t buy that brand of dip before it’s full of chemicals, in your innocent confusion I suggest you glance at the ingredients list for a guess at the threshold in question.
Suggesting search engine terms might be helpful. I don’t think I’d ever find “you’re going to confuse people” helpful—either I already know that I’m not being very precisely expressive and these are all the words I have, or, if that’s not the case, “could you elaborate/rephrase that” would be better. I didn’t feel exasperated by this comment but might by a long chain of them on this branch.
Some people are in fact responsive to “that’s a slur; the preferred term is X”, especially if X isn’t a barbarous use of language, if they were using the slur to encompass the whole group and got caught by a euphemism treadmill or just pick up their vocabulary from sources unsympathetic to Xes. And you don’t have to reject an offered word for being a syllable longer if you want to make that tradeoff. I think this is a case of Postel’s law, or should be.
I wish to clarify that I’m not asserting that everyone knows exactly what things are “chemicals” and what things are not. There’s room for disagreement, for one thing, and the disagreements might turn on all kinds of little points about where a substance came from and even why it was added to the food. But I do think that given two lists of ingredients for different brands of, say, packaged guacamole, you could distinguish “few to no chemicals” from “lots of chemicals”. That there isn’t a strict, look-up-able boundary of necessary and sufficient conditions that fits in a “coherent model” doesn’t mean it’s not useful to gesture at for some purposes, sort of like music genres. I don’t have a coherent model of music genres and I couldn’t elaborate much on what I mean if I call a song “poppy” or “jazzy” but that doesn’t mean it’s not a statement I might reasonably utter.
Yeah, I don’t fully endorse the linked Tumblr post; in particular there’s certainly ways to resolve these conflicts that aren’t “abdicate the terminology yourself”. But some of it is highly relevant and well said.
Extensionally, “chemicals” is food coloring that doesn’t come straight out of a whole food, disodium edta, ammonia, peroxide, acetone, sulfur dioxide, aspartame, sodium aluminosilicate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, sodium sorbate, methylchloroisothiazolinone....
And not: apple juice, water, table salt, vodka, flour, sugar, milk...
A thing doesn’t have to be a natural category for people to want to talk about it and have a legitimate interest in talking about it.
I disagree with your second point and think you’re missing mine. If you don’t want to talk to someone, don’t talk to them. You don’t have to be cruel, and your desire to be cruel doesn’t make it reasonable.
Relevant Tumblr post (not mine)
I spent a lot of this post interested in the content, mostly the rich examples, but confused about where the entire post was pointing because I didn’t realize until toward the end that you meant something totally different than me by “explicit communication”—you seem to mean something like “communication with a lot of moving parts and techniques and cringey NVC goop specifically addressing certain subtopics”, and I would have expected the phrase to mean “communication that is clear, not sarcastic, and not very reliant on context, tone, or other neurotypical stuff”. Some of your examples fit this definition well enough and you wrote as though your categorization didn’t need to be… uh, explicit… for me to persist in my misunderstanding for a long while.
I do think there are intermediate stages of misery-pit-ness.
The target audience was “people like the people I’ve talked to about this before who find this model/framing helpful to them in their efforts to set and enforce boundaries before, not after, they are harmed by taking on too much responsibility for other people”. I don’t have any really useful advice for misery pits themselves that isn’t implicitly in the post. The second conversation doesn’t come free with the first because it requires more content which I don’t happen to have.
I’ve added a content warning but I noticed as I was composing it I wasn’t really sure what to say, so I’m low-confidence that it’s anything like what you had in mind.
The second suggestion seems to me inapplicable—it’s a definition post, not a strategy post. I don’t think you need to be in any specific state to potentially want vocabulary.
What disclaimers exactly? I can’t diagnose misery-pit-hood of article readers as a group, so I can’t say “if you’re reading this you aren’t a misery pit”. I suppose I could… say that I’m not trying to get anyone to commit suicide...? I just don’t understand how this problem could be solved by disclaimers.
Being gripped by destructive rage when your friends succeed sounds like not a central case of the thing I was trying to describe.