If you stop and look around today it’s very easy to notice how polarized Americans have become. Every argument these days only seems to have two sides- for and against. Liberal and conservative. Good and Evil.
Because of this we’ve stopped having meaningful dialogues with each other. The modern equivalent of a discussion is simply seeing which salute the other person gives and judging them accordingly.
How did we get here? The News.
If you were to take a look back before major news networks appeared and started reporting 24/7 you’ll notice a much more polite America. An America where people could listen to each other’s opinions and make a decision if they agreed or disagreed amicably. When 24 hour news started it formed the foundation for factionalizing Americans. Now we had a structure to be fed easy opinions. In an age before cell phones and major news networks we had to look at facts and evidence and evaluate what we think. In today’s world the news serves as a soup kitchen for world views. Here we can go ala carte and pick up other people’s opinions and place them on our tray. You grab whatever feels convenient or suitable for your goals in life and whatever sounds the most glamorous. It might get you in the right ballpark, but it’s pre-manufactured. There is little flexibility in that which one can shift when their opinion isn’t there own; when you regurgitate someone else’s view you don’t have the necessary information to evaluate it.
Now, it begs the question as to who gets to manufacture these world views. News networks of course have very wealthy folks at the top, those folks have political friends and allies, those people decide what goes on the air.
I’m sure there is no bias.
Unfortunately there is a bigger problem here. These opinions are not force upon us. We have the ability to form opinions on our own. We can educate ourselves. We just choose not to.
We are lazy.
In an age of cell phones and the internet things are just too easy. We’ve all seen that jackass on the corner complaining about how slowly his cell phone is working or that he doesn’t get a signal here. This fool is holding a supercomputer in his hand that connects to outer space, and he’s complaining about a temporary slow down. That’s how we’ve been trained to think nowadays, however. We’re so spoiled by our technology we take everything for granted. Very few people create anything anymore, those that do usually operate a machine that does all of the work. Outside of art there is very little in professions that give us the sense that what we own is precious or valuable. Now it’s just an exchange of a paycheck we get for sitting at a desk or, worse yet, selling other people this undervalued property. We put so little work into everything compared to fifty years ago. Any information we need can be quickly referenced on Wikipedia. No more chopping wood for the fire. If we need to know what a song is called we pull a magic little box out of our pocket and it tells us.
We don’t have to work at much to survive, why would we put effort into our world view?
But, back to the point. What happened to polite politics?
Remember when you were a kid and you disagreed with someone? How it always inevitably wound up being a battle of “nuh uh” and “uh huh” ?
That’s what happened. When you argue without information, evidence, interpretation, exploration, or the interest of doing any such things, you end up getting angry. You bicker. You push your point back and forth and become frustrated with yourself because you don’t have the ammunition to prove your point. As you get angrier with yourself you reflect that anger back onto your dissenter. Now they’re the bad, wrong person. They become your enemy.
This is politics. This is religion. This is why no one can have a polite discussion on either subject; because we don’t arm ourselves with the information to actually discuss anything. We just give our cookie cutter salute and acknowledge our factions.