Thursday, June 4, 2020

Evolution of Society's Behavior

I appreciate the many advances in technology we've made over the years. Life is certainly more convenient than ever before. I'm glad we no longer have to deal with rotary phones, taking your film to Fotomat to get pictures developed, use dial up internet, card catalogs, or VHS tapes.

We get things much faster today and that includes the news which runs 24/7. We hear opinions on sports, news, politics, and everything else. A big segment of entertainment these days consists of critics who share their opinion, pontificate, mock, or question others.Not only do we have an abundance of actual news, but everyone has turned into a news commentator with social media. There are many different viewpoints and even the experts frequently contradict each other about any given subject.

As much as I appreciate the abundance of news at times, I have noticed a negative side effect from it. We have lost our ability to be patient and think before we react. We jump to conclusions too quickly. I've seen friends argue about articles they post online when they haven't even read them and just assume they know a person's position from a headline. There is so much sensationalism and frequently an agenda or bias behind the media we take in. I despise how everything turns political so fast. People regularly get offended and outraged when someone expresses a different point of view.

I was surprised how quickly the Covid-19 panndemic quickly turned political and divided people into different camps. If you thought the government over reacted in their response and did more harm than good, then you are an insensitive, selfish, conspiracy theorist, that doesn't care if people die. If you were concerned and wanted people to wear masks and social distance then you were in favor of  Totalitarian dictators, willing to give up your freedom for security, and just following with all the other scared sheeple.

The truth of the matter is most of us were feeling bi-polar about the whole thing. I kept going back and forth between these two extremes as did many others, but I think most people could relate to both sides. It is possible to be concerned about everyone's health while at the same time being concerned about your constitutional rights and quality of life. Lives and livelihood are both important.

Last week when I saw the footage of the cop kneeling on a incapacitated George Floyd's neck I was sickened and outraged. Over the last several days my anger has only grown as I watch people assault, rob, vandalize, and create chaos all around the country. Knee jerk reactions and people giving in to their anger has only escalated tension and amplified the problem.

Once again we are encountering people being painted into the two extreme sides of the issue. If you criticize people rioting and looting, then you are told you must agree with systemic racism. If you say most police officers are good people who serve their community, then you are a racist and part of the problem.

Again we are coming back to the us vs. them mentality. "You are either with us or against us." Maybe I'm with both of you and maybe I'm not with either of you! People are more complex than being divided into two groups or given a simple label when it comes to every issue.

They say hindsight is 20/20. When we look back on troubled issues of the past it is easier to make sense of why things happened and what would have been the best way to deal with them after we have gotten all the facts, but unfortunately that takes time. Nobody is willing to be patient and discuss things civilly when they are like powder kegs just waiting to explode. I've found myself guilty of this too recently. I felt my blood boiling this week after watching several different video clips of violence and injustices done to a variety of people as a result of all this anger.

We currently have the perfect storm that cultivates fear and anger. We live in such a polarizing and divisive society and the speed in which we get information and the poor quality of that information is a real problem.  Political narratives, speculative and biased news stories, partial truths, denial, conspiracy theories, ignorance, and prejudices all muddy the water and our ability to see clearly.

If someone has a different opinion or viewpoint than you, that does not mean that they hate you or are attacking you. I appreciate it when I see civil debates between adults who may disagree with each other but do so amicably and respectfully. That is so rare these days since most people go ballistic as soon as they realize you don't agree with them and resort to name calling and labeling others.

The only way to fix our problems is to take a step back, take some deep breaths and then change our energy. We have to lose the anger and cultivate more love and respect for each other. I only see things getting better when we can focus on and put more attention on all of our similarities as opposed to our differences. That goes for every group, not just black/white, Republican/Democrat, Christians/Muslims, and Ford/Chevy.