The concept of cringe is cringe
Imagine a dude who carefully assesses every aspect of his rhetoric to make sure it doesn’t sound close to something a naive, overly emotional or culturally unsophisticated person might say- in other words, he’s hyperfocused on not appearing adolescent or jejune. A little bit of this might be healthy but suppose this man internalizes the game so heavily that it begins to shape not just his rhetoric, but his beliefs as well. One of his primary ways of arguing ends up being insinuations that the person he’s arguing with sounds like this or that type of annoying person from high school.
I would suggest that, ironically, such a person would resemble very closely an adolescent. There’s nothing so impossibly adolescent as being obsessed with not being an adolescent. (Also he’s a bit of a Patrick Bateman, but that’s another matter.)
Consider, for example, atheism. Right now on Twitter there’s a micro debate going on about whether religion or atheism is more cringe. A typical example of the dialectic:
“religious people are *usually* cringier than atheists”
“Hard disagree. What's cringier than guy scoffing about Flying Spaghetti Monster or just-asking-questions about Sky Daddy?”
"“I gave my child MMS (bleach) so that I could cure their autism through the purity of our lord" Far more cringe. Dramatically more cringe. We dont have to bring up YEC even.”
"athiests are typically redditors so this is patently false”
“A guy who thinks “sky daddy” is a funny joke vs The “monster energy drinks are satanic” lady Epic cringe off”
Those who hold that atheism is more cringe produce classic prooftexts like this copypasta from the atheism subreddit back in 2013:
"Just to be clear, I'm not a professional 'quote maker'. I'm just an atheist teenager who greatly values his intelligence and scientific fact over any silly fiction book written 3,500 years ago. This being said, I am open to any and all criticism.
'In this moment, I am euphoric. Not because of any phony god's blessing. But because, I am enlightened by my intelligence.'"
So a kid posted something on the atheism subreddit in 2013 and this is meant to reflect on whether atheism or religion is more uncool, with the unstated but clearly implicit idea that this should affect your religious beliefs, or at least your public profession on religious belief or lack thereof.
This is not at all atypical. Similar fights break about the cringe factor of ideologies, genders, sexualities, and hobbies. Twitter is obsessed with cringe, and although Twitter is largely politically and economically powerless, it does, to a degree, lead the charge on culture.
But I have to object to all this worrying about cringe. You know who spends a lot of time arguing about what is cool and what isn’t? You know who is deeply concerned about looking uncool? Deeply uncool, cringe people. We’ve reached the point where the only thing to do is to declare the concept of cringe, cringe.
Now there’s often a rational kernel to this stuff. The rational kernel to the idea that atheism is cringe is that making a big deal out of not believing in God, absent any larger social program or critique of social conditions, can get pretty self-indulgent. What’s the point of frantically telling everyone The Lord doesn’t exist if you’re largely satisfied with the social structures generations of believers created? If it’s just a point of metaphysics to you, why are you pushing it so hard?
The rational kernel to the idea that religion is cringe is that sometimes (not always) religion is used to avoid facing our lived world “as it is” and grappling with the needs and personhoods of others.
But a thoughtful atheist and a thoughtful religious person are both infinitely less cringe than a dude- religious or not- who cares deeply about whether it is atheism or religion makes a person look more naive, unsubtle, adolescent and cringe. Think things through like an adult, and talk to other people like an adult, enough of this highschool clique ranking nonsense.
TLDR: Worrying a great deal about being cringe is self-defeating because it’s extremely cringe, but even if it weren’t, don’t you owe it to yourself to think about serious questions in a serious way?