All of this arguing is exhausting, and silly
Water is wet.
And, with that seemingly innocuous statement, I have just ticked off half of our readership — alienating those who either cling to all things contrarian, or the subset who believes that, indeed, water is dry, because fill-in-the-blank website told them that’s the case.
That’s where we are as a society. Common ground is now considered the bastion for the weak or uninformed, while minimizing the opinions of others or parroting talking points from like-minded sources is the new “strong.”
Hint: It is not.
Old or young, black or white, female or male, Christian or Jewish — our ability to think for ourselves is perhaps our greatest freedom, and sadly the one that we most often take for granted. We surrender our ability to digest information and formulate our own conclusions based on that data so we can more actively participate in “groupthink.”
And if somebody has anything to say that is different, well, unleash the beasts of Hell.
We have universities who won’t allow conservative voices to come speak to their students because it might hurt feelings, and we have right-leaning folks who believe that everything a liberal suggests is anti-American and won’t even listen. We hold our breath, we cross our arms and we cling to others who feel the same way because the “other” people hurt our itty bitty feelings.
Our televisions are tuned in to MSNBC or Fox or CNN or BBC or whichever says the things we want them to say, and we often cluster into Facebook groups and social cliques based on being around people who never disagree with us. We yell “Impeach” or “Lock Her Up” in orchestrated group chants, and we’ve all seen friendships and families be torn apart by the rancor and open hostility of today’s times.
In an alleged age of information, we openly limit ourselves to only half of it, because we just can’t stomach the idea of listening to what other people might believe, and we can’t be bothered to attempt to cross the divide to formulate actual plans of action to improve the quality of life for all of us. We spin our wheels, eliminate the possibilities of progress and rip each other to shreds because... what? Other people say things we don’t agree with and it makes us sad?
Think it’s all about a political divide? No, we’ve gone far beyond that. It is prevalent everywhere around us, and only getting worse.
I’m a sports junkie. I watch them, read about them and catch highlights wherever and whenever I can. I love fact-based pieces regarding the analytics of sports, and treasure opinion pieces that offer insight or thoughts about the teams I follow, or the teams that pose a threat to the teams I like most.
Going to the comments section of a good online sports story used to be one of my favorite activities. There were always some counter-arguments to the author’s take, or good-natured ribbing back and forth between fan bases, or just some really crazy off-the-wall stuff that you had to chuckle about, solely based on the absurdity of the opinion.
As a Ravens fan, if I came across a headline that even mentioned former Ravens safety Ed Reed or his Steelers counterpart, Troy Polamalu, I would often just breeze through the article and race to the comments because I knew it was going to be a debate over who the superior player was — even if the article had absolutely nothing to do with that.
But now? The comments make me cringe.
They go after the author for having the audacity to disagree with them. They go after other commenters for the same crime against humanity. They turn each story into a political debate, which, predictably enough, results in 9,426,731 more comments, none of which have anything to do whatsoever with the author picking the Seahawks as his fourth-best team in the league. We’re nuts.
And we’re soft. And that is a combination that leads to, well, pretty much what we have going on around us in today’s world. Our Congress can’t get anything accomplished, we know in advance the exact vote of every issue that comes before our Senate, social media has devolved into largely a cesspool of close-minded hostility, and people with differing opinions are no longer viewed as people with differing opinions as much as they are labeled “traitors” and “racists” and “idiots.”
Isn’t this exhausting? Wouldn’t we all prefer to just accept that other people have different beliefs and thoughts, and that we can still survive together on this spinning globe without killing each other if we just try to work together?
Wait. Don’t answer. We might disagree and that will make my feelings hurt. We can’t have that.
By Darin J. McCann