Experience of “Problemagic”

Calling something “problematic” has become a shortcut to label something as oppressive without actually doing any work. But where some see problematic, I see problemagic: an opportunity to generate dialogue in a world demoralized by failing institutions. I asked viewers if they had seen anything “problemagic” in their newsfeed lately.

73% answered “yes”. 7.9% answered “no”. 19% were unsure. 

This question was somewhat problematic, because I didn’t actually define the term, “problemagic” in the question. Of the people who said “yes” they thought they saw something “problemagic” in their newsfeed, 79.1% answered the question simply by what they were outraged by. 9.3% sidestepped the question and reported avoiding their newsfeeds altogether. 4.7% thought they probably had and 7% simply thought the question was funny.

The most common outrages people named were the Kavanaugh Hearings [37.5%] (which were going on that week], Politics in general (31.3%), The Presidency (25%), and the news (6.3%)

A very small minority, 8% of people seemed to understand “problemagic” and the intent of the question. Here are some of their comments:

  • “I’d like to think that the coverage of those who speak out about sexual abuse will empower a new generation”
  • “The idea that there’s a hive mind, even if positive, is concerning”
  • “problems at every click, wish there was more magic”
  • It sounds like problem-solving through creative-thinking and a dash of ‘the universe’.”

Perhaps next time I would define the term, “problemagic”, give some examples and then ask the question. Separately I might also ask what people have been outraged by lately (since outrage seems to be the most viral emotions).