In the past year or two, it’s been painfully evident that there has been getting more and more polarization in politics in this country–and the rest of the world.
In many ways, I’ve implicated the rise of the 24-hour news channel as one of the catalysts of this change. Up until the 80’s, there seemed to be less issue with crossing the aisle than there is now. Back then most of the country wasn’t privy to how the sausage of legislation was made. It wasn’t hidden, per se, but it mostly didn’t seem to make national news as often, and memes didn’t exist.
Over the weekend over breakfast, I started to think about the more recent changes. Things like the just-mentioned memes. Until the rise of social media outlets in the past couple of elections, we watched pundits duke it out on the Sunday-morning politics talk shows and CNN. If you wanted to talk about politics, as opposed to simply watch or read debates, you had to find someone to talk to.
Since social media, I posit that we’ve gotten more selfish in general. You have the rise of the selfie, everyone having a twitter, Facebook walls… everything has to be about one’s self and the constant stream of approval and magnification of the reach of one’s voice. The dopamine hit when someone hits the like button feeds that cycle. The retweet or share amplifies the message. The ideas become distilled. The ideas become more ingrained.
Once that happens, it’s more an argument to abstractly “be right” and win an argument (even if it comes down to unfriending, dog-piling, doxing–whatever it takes to “win”) than it is to be right in a global way. To merely admit that your adversary (because now everyone who doesn’t think like you is just that) may have a point means that your dogma might not be 100% correct.
We selfishly guard “winning” instead of collaborating to make things better.