We’re So Divided!

Whether it’s over sports or politics or religion we’re an extremely divided people. The difference in opinions no matter how trivial are also so personal. I think it’s mostly the fault of social media and more specifically memes. Memes pose a one sided argument with very few words and a picture that’s supposed to elicit an emotional response. The response I usually have when I disagree is anger or bafflement. I think, how can this friend of mine or anybody be so ignorant or selfish or whatever. Since these posts are on social media and not being discussed over drinks or dinner all you have to do is either respond unkindly or “unfollow” the person you’re angry with. It’s an automatic shunning with very little short term consequences.

In the big picture it’s creating for ourselves a little microcosm that stunts our ability to reason with others opinions. We’re surrounding ourselves with so many like minded individuals that we’re creating segregated social groups that are easy to demonize and criticize from our own social circles. Social media and memes weren’t created to cause malice between clicks or sports fans or political groups but they have. There’s an old rule of etiquette that says, never talk about religion or politics. People used to follow that rule when people spoke face to face because there was a concern of offending people. With memes especially that rule is broken between friends, family, and strangers everyday.

I think this is the main cause of why people have become so impassioned and divisive about differences Americans have always had between themselves. I don’t think Americans have been this angry since the 60’s when there was a great deal of social change being broadcast on television for the first time. It’s almost as if advanced technologies show us things in the world that we feel we need to be angry about. Gay rights, gun rights, drug wars, Roe vs. Wade, and Donald Trump are nothing new but our division as a people over them on this scale are. Before social media there were protesters and people that preached their causes to a country that mostly didn’t listen. We seemed to be a more laid back country in our ignorance of everyone’s opinions. People didn’t talk about things. It was private business. There’s a reason we have secret ballots when we vote. Telling your personal beliefs to others makes them angry and look at you in a different light. Your neighbor doesn’t need political propaganda with whatever they’re borrowing.

With social media it’s to easy to hit like or share something that your friends will see. There needs to be a recognition that not all the people in your life are happy or angry about the same things you are. There’s a chance that when you post something on a timeline that somebody will see you differently than they did a moment ago. On the other hand you can’t refrain from expressing yourself out of fear of alienating yourself. You have to be your own person. Just try to remember there are going to be things you dislike about people that are your friends. When you see a meme that portrays people as being vile or unpatriotic with offensive language and visuals maybe you shouldn’t hit like or share it. Maybe it’s better to write out in your own way how you feel about something. That creates a dialogue that people can share in, instead of propagandizing someone else’s idea. Mostly though don’t be so angry at other people for forming their own ideas about how the world works. It doesn’t do any good to be angry at some old lady smoking cigarettes in her kitchen and liking memes. It’s fine if some college kid wants to express themselves with rainbows and raise concerns over their tuition. Except for when they vote their business has zero consequences on your business. People are simply choosing to believe it does. That doesn’t go for when people rights are challenged but that’s a law process that the courts usually sort out.

In conclusion. Relax, compromise, show some insight, show some empathy, and think about things. Don’t let those things bring you to the dark side.




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