We have been pitted against one another, and we don’t even realize it. The division we have in this country in my humble opinion because of a few things which I will out line in this blog, based totally on my observations, and my opinions. Nothing that I say in this is fact, some may believe it’s completely fiction, and I’m okay with that.
You see I’m not what you call an expert, scholar, hell even a proficient word smith in this subject. What I am though is human, and I have feelings, and opinions just like everyone else in the world, and the only differences between you the reader of this, and I the writer, is our experiences in our lives.
Ever since you and I were both small children stumbling around learning to walk and not defecate our pants, we had experiences that are unique to us. Not two people in existence have had the same exact experience ever, not even twins growing up in the same home. Their experiences may differ drastically amongst each other. Those experiences have made us the people we are today, good, bad or indifferent. How we chose to process those experiences plays a part in all of this as well.
Growing up I never went without anything that was a necessity, always had a roof over my head, food in my belly, and clothes for my body. I went to one of the best schools in the area, not because it was a private institution that I got some kind of scholarship or was drafted to attend because I was some kind of sports superstar, it was a public school and I grew up in that district so that’s where I went. I did not perform well in school because I did not care about school, which lead to discipline from my parents, which sometimes motivated me, and sometimes didn’t. However, that was part of my experiences growing up.
Reason I went on a little tangent there about school is because some people do go to private schools, public schools, or are homeschooled. Those all give each person a different experience in their life. The people they hang out with, their parents, all play a role in your development, and you start to like things or dislike things, and start forming different opinions of things.
When I was growing up, not having the same opinion as everyone else was something that was praised, not scolded. Just because you didn’t like the same sports teams, or music didn’t make you out to be wrong in other peoples eyes. Being a Republican, Democrat, or some other party didn’t make you right or wrong. It was part of your belief system, it was part of who you were, your experiences had led you to choose those things.
Social Media, and the internet has pushed people from being able to have simple dialogue discussing their differences, into shouting matches and name calling over the interwebs. Partly I feel this is because some of the stuff people say on the interwebs would be cause for a jaw jacking and there is no fear of that from the safety of your keyboard. I also find the irony in my blasting social media, while posting this through my various social media accounts so people can read this.
What social media has done is give everyone a mega phone, so they can shout their own beliefs to the world, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all. However, people focus on the “likes” they get for an article, and the algorithms that social media uses, makes sure that it drags you to a rabbit hole to only see the things you like. You never get the other side on social media, unless it’s being drug through a field of broken glass and mud first.
Social media blatantly pits us together to get more interactions, by only showing you the things you like, and when you stumble across the things you don’t like, you can be outraged almost immediately because you have aren’t getting your dopamine response from your usual rainbows and unicorns on your social media platform. You also are not seeing the other side of the story painted by that side. You’re seeing the other side’s story painted by intitutions or people that you agree with, so you aren’t getting anything but affirmation from them for feeling the way you do.
People don’t care to discuss their differences anymore, it’s all “I’m right and you’re wrong.” No one wants to sit down and discuss with people why they feel the way they do about an issue, they just want to prove that the way they feel is the wrong way, and tell them they should feel a certain way. Well that doesn’t work. Why might you ask? Because of your experiences in life. Let me give you a real example from my own experiences.
I had a conversation years ago with someone who felt like our country was a giant shit hole, and needed a massive overhaul. They didn’t like the president, they didn’t like the things that he said, they didn’t like the way he looked, and that person felt as if the government should be more involved in our day to day lives, to make things easier for everyone. I didn’t jump right at him and attack and tell him that his views are completely skewed, and he was wrong. I asked him why he thought those things. What led him to those beliefs, tried to understand where he was coming from. When I thought I understood a little better his beliefs, I rebutted with my own, and explained why I believed those. Civil discourse is a lost art, and it can be had if people take the time to listen.
Listening and waiting to respond are two separate things. Most people wait to respond, and I have been guilty of that in the past, and sometimes when I’m truly passionate about something, I fall into that trap, I have to remind myself that I want it to be a conversation. MOST of the time, you can have a civil conversation with someone about their beliefs, and not get all hung up on why you’re right and they’re wrong. Some people just aren’t willing to listen.
The person in my example is someone that I have known for I’m ashamed to say decades. We went to the same school, played the same sports, and even hung out in the same crowds, and you know what? We have totally different experiences from school, and life after school. I was picked on in school for being smaller than everyone else. What has that experience done for me? It has made me immune to short jokes, and given me one hell of a sense of humor, and sharp tongue. It’s all about how we process things right?
Measuring your life on the amount of “likes” you get, and your “friends” or “followers” on social media is a sad way to live. You compromise your own belief systems to do things that you find questionable to attain “likes.” You chase it, and in your real life, not your made up social media life you might be lonely, or not popular at all, and that depresses people. It’s an unhealthy way to live in my opinion. Worrying about who likes your posts, or who doesn’t, or what people say in your comments has led many teens to hurt themselves, develop eating disorders, and even commit suicide. That is terrifying for me as a parent.
I can say that I will not let my children be part of any social media platform. If they need a cell phone they’re going to get a super basic flip phone or some kind of phone that only has the ability to call or text when they’re old enough. I don’t need my sons or daughter worrying about what anyone says about their social media picture and what that would do to their emotional health. I want to keep them unplugged from the matrix as long as possible.
I’ve kind of gone off on some tangents in this blog, getting away from the divided world, but it is all tied together. If you take a step back and think about it, social media is to blame, many people say well they’re a private entity and the government can’t control them, they’re selling a product. But what is the product they’re selling? It’s us… Not our data, but us. The more screen time you have, the more the algorithms will steer you into things that are your interest. Doesn’t sound to bad right?
Now, while you’re still looking at it objectively, if you only hear and see the things that you want to hear and see, you never hear or see things that aren’t of your interest. Still sound good? Still looking at this all objectively? Look at the state of not just the United States, but the world. Look how divisive we all are…. It’s not a pretty place right now.
Now, I can admit, I have an addiction to scrolling facebook. I don’t post often, but I spend countless hours scrolling and reading things, and looking at things on facebook. Hours I don’t get with my family because I’m just aimlessly scrolling. That is the power social media holds onto us. I will pick my phone up to check the weather, or look up someones number and I will immediately go to facebook. Then I get rabbit holed.
I decided to delete my facebook app on my phone, not because I hate facebook and the censoring that they do, which I do hate that they are censoring anything that doesn’t follow the marching orders of their shareholders. But because I want that time, I want to kill that addiction. I hope more people do it also. Spend time with the people around you, have civil conversations, learn about the people with different opinions than you, grow.