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Is being over-informed breeding US division?

We are the most informed Generation in American History. We also appear more divided than ever. This is probably not a coincidence.

I’ve been thinking about unity a lot tonight — something I want so badly for us. I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of living in a nation that is constantly in inner turmoil, torn apart by differences of opinion.

Our nation is sick, and I’m beginning to think that this has much to do with being the most informed generation in American history; I think our smartphones have something to do with the problem.

We’re all about the news. We know about everything that’s happening on the whole face of the planet just by virtue of having smart devices. But I don’t think we’re handling that influx well.

I don’t think we’re processing the news we’re reading in a healthy manner — and it’s tearing us apart.

Here’s what I mean.

The media shows extremes. Journalists show what’s interesting — what gets “PVS,” page views. They have to do this, but it usually means showing the worst of society and the horrible extremes of any given subgroup of people.

Want to see the worst of humanity? Just read the news. We all know this, and most of us read it endlessly.

But the danger comes in that it is our nature as humans to try to take the information we receive and draw conclusions from it — this type of person believes that. That type of person believes this. 

And though there are reasons for pooling data like that, principally animalistic, survival reasons, we are getting so lazy with our analysis that we are allowing these extreme media portrayals of bad individuals to define what our views are about whole groups of people.

And defining a whole group of people by a bad apple is one of the roots of racist thought patterns.

I really think this drawing of conclusions from extremes is skewing our vision. Are we divided? Yes, but I don’t think we’re as bad as we think we are — it may be that we just aren’t seeing clearly.

So what can we do about it?

I think that many of our problems can be overcome by learning how to think less broadly, and by meaningfully connecting with people who are different than us.

What if instead of judging based on what we read and picking fights on social media, we had actual loving face to face conversations with the people in our lives who disagree with us? Those who see the world through different lenses than us?

Why don’t we try to see the world from their perspective and try on their shoes mentally instead of judging? We can do this. We truly can, and I believe we can overcome any divisions in this way.

Simple, old fashioned communication.

There are bad apples in every society, yes. The news will always cover that. But let’s not project their failings on whole groups of people. We are so much better than that.

We can’t allow our vision to be inaccurately defined by generalizations. Instead, let’s talk kindly with each other. Let’s find common ground and build up from there.

Let’s learn to love each other well. We can do this. 

I don’t know about you, but I have hope that we can soon heal. It will take some effort, but we Americans are fighters. Now, we need to fight for unity instead of fighting each other.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

May this be the year when we learn how to love each other, a year where differences don’t divide us. Let’s chill the f*** out!