Sick of the name-calling and caricatures coming from the left and the right
Opening my social media feeds this morning, I found that my friends on the right and the left were taking shots at each other because of what some moron in North Carolina said. This is the reason I don’t usually get involved in political conversations – because people rarely have conversations anymore. True dialogue around opposing opinions is rare nowadays. And the problem is on both sides. Fox news focuses on the weed-smoking hippie at the Occupy Wall Street gathering, and CNN features the backwards woman who thinks quarantining gays and lesbians is a good idea because it will prevent them from reproducing. It’s cheap. It’s catering to your niche. It’s a debilitating virus that has infected our nation.
I’m not going to write a comprehensive analysis of why our country is so divided. There are books being written about it by people who are much smarter than I. But I will throw this tidbit into the conversation: I believe our technologically-driven, fast-paced way of life is a big part of the problem. Two ways: First, the well-documented decline in thoughtful reflection has led to a decline in thoughtful conversation. We just spew at each other in sound bites, with leaders in every sector of society showing the way. Second, the thoughtful reflection that is taking place is only participated in by those who look and think like us. This is the silent killer in our society today: rather than digital media creating the hoped-for global village, it has launched an unprecedented era of nichification and tribalization.
What do I mean by nichification and tribalization? Whereas we once held meaningful conversations in our local communities – workplaces, neighborhoods, churches – we now sequester ourselves with like-minded people online. So we pat each other on the back, “liking” one another’s comments, and shake our heads at the caricatures being held up to represent the other point-of-view. All I know to do is try to be different, listening intently to views with which I disagree, respecting those who don’t look or think like me, and jumping into a genuine opportunity at rigorous, respectful dialogue whenever the opportunity presents itself.