In case you haven’t noticed, we’re a nation -- a world -- divided. The masses are split, black and white, and there seems to be very little room for gray. We either LOVE kids, or we HATE them! We’re either pro-Obama (and really anti-Romney), or vice versa! We either just watched the best movie ever, or the director of the movie we just watched should be shot so he or she will never make a film again. And the thing that exacerbates this all or nothing mentality, maybe the most, is the Internet; social media in particular.
Despite “like” being the manner in which we express that we agree with something (or think it’s funny or cute), we don’t like things anymore. Like is too innocuous. We love things. We’re “obsessed” with things. Or we hate them.
No doubt, one of the intentions of social media was unite us -- and, of course, it has in the sense that we’re all constantly communicating with one another -- but in a less literal way, it’s done the opposite.
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Never before in history has there been a time in which people can say anything to anyone -- and not say it to their face. We interact via technology more than we interact under the harsh lights of reality (of “IRL”). Our computers and smartphones are our shields. We hide behind screen names and avatars and weird alphanumeric Twitter handles. And you know what? It can be liberating as fuck. But also, it’s turning us into automatic contrarians.
Read the comments section of any blog post -- here or on any other site. Typically, what happens is some (most) commenters disagree with what the author is saying -- and Let. It. Be. Known. And there are others who agree. Then, an argument breaks out between the people who agree and the people who don't within the section. And it's usually not a very cordial discourse. It's name calling. It's ad hominem. It's lots of CAPS and exclamation points!!!
Maybe it's because we've lost patience as a society; because we don't have enough time. I mean, it isn't as easy to have an "intelligent, respectful argument" online as it is face-to-face. One would have to keep going back and checking the thread, waiting for a response, etc. Who has time for that when there's Facebooking to be done?
And speaking of Facebook, the social media of all social medias -- ever notice how all the people we're "friends" with on the site are fairly similar to us? They may not share in every single moral, value, and political view, but they're rarely extremely different. And if they are, and we don't like it, we can just unfriend them.
I sort of think things have gotten out of control. I think what started out as something extremely freeing -- being able to tell someone they're a complete moron without "getting caught" -- has morphed into something bigger. It's the fake it 'til you make it mentality. I now believe the things I've said, and you believe the things you've said. And never the twain shall meet. Our knee-jerk reactions are simply to disagree. It's actually really depressing.
So. Is there anything we can do? Any way we can bridge the gap? Possibly. But it might take spending time away from our computers and actually connecting with people in person so we can hear what they have to say in more than a few sentences. And, honestly, who has time for that? So, I guess let's just hope that within Facebook's next big change, Zuckerberg rolls out an "It's alright" button.
Do you feel like the Internet has made you more "black and white"?
Image via _gee_/Flickr