You know, it’s simultaneously humorous and very scary to me how people view me in discussions. When engaging conservatives, I’m apparently anti-religion (I’m not), or communist (I’m definitely not), or just extreme-liberal (I’m most definitely not). Yet when I hold my liberal friends to the same standard of discussion, I’m “hurting the cause” or “not a real Democrat” (okay, this one might be true) or a conservative in disguise. I work really hard to always hear both sides of discussions, and make sure people consider contrary viewpoints, because contrary doesn’t mean the same thing as “wrong.” Understanding where people are coming from when they disagree with us is a core building block of communication and problem solving. And while we may FEEL strongly about our opinions, it’s important to remember that they aren’t rendered into facts through that process.
People, I’m in the middle. I’m more middle of the road than about anyone I’ve ever met. Sorta like an Independent Libertarian, maybe. And I hold everyone to the same standard. When I see folks using hyperbole or false equivalencies to try and make points (badly), I point it out. When I see people being uncivil to each other, I try to be their conscience. And yet, from the middle of the road, you can see just how badly polluted the gutters are. You can’t disagree with someone without being “the enemy,” and you can’t be “the enemy” without being labeled the polar opposite, regardless of the accuracy of that label.
It’s very sad, in the end, because it’s a bad commentary on how polarized we’ve become, and how unable we are to just sit down and fucking talk to each other like human beings. And it’s a god damned shame. The problem is heavily connected to social media, where Facebook, Twitter, and company allow us to enter echo-chambers – isolating us from dissent, and reassuring us of our “rightness” on issues. The reality is, we’re just blocking out the challenges of critical thinking and problem solving by ignoring opposing viewpoints because we’ve grown lazy. We’ve gone so far backwards.