This polarization is taking its toll

We are so polarized and angry these days that I feel the pain emanating from almost everything I read on my smart phone. Facebook is full of wailing by the left or the right, braggadocio by the right or the left; women are screaming at men, men are defending their right to be men (whatever that is today), marginalized groups are yelling for air time, there are right wing speeches, and left wing speeches. And I dare not even go near that other channel, that hotbed of propaganda: Twitter, where those who pay get thousands of instant likes and re-tweets of everything they post, and which, by default, has become every grandstanding politician’s press bureau.

We seem to be caught up in an ideological tussle in which we have to be noticed and have to win or else we will drown; we must feel that the barbarians are at our door. But who are these barbarians, if not ourselves? Social media has now made us all politicians and we feel left behind if we do not shoot an instant video and post it, in which we can make our thoughts, actions and feelings known. The new social gathering is everyone sitting in a circle playing with their smart phones and ignoring everyone else. The former intimate dinner for two is now one in which the smart phone is the emcee, bringing in the rest of the world to participate in via newscasts, and acting as a broadcaster to the world of the food on our plates and the “happy” looks on our faces. And we need “likes”—lots of them—that’s our new currency.

It appears to me that we got suckered into a large experiment that made us gullible lab rats. Some grand architect decided that he (or she) would give us the tools to become famous – i.e. democratize fame, make it no longer the exclusive domain of movie stars and politicians. So we got the means of instant communication with each other via social media. Then, when “text only” was proving to be cumbersome because many people couldn’t be bothered to read (or couldn’t read), we were given photo capability. Video followed on photos’ heels because that brought us in line with the Hollywood set. While this was going on, clever politicians were using the same tools to rile us into taking sides, playing to our lowest common denominators: prejudice, greed, vanity, elitism and the promise of a life that only those movie stars had. And we fell for it, hook , line and sinker. We began propagating the propaganda of these arch politicians, amplifying the noise tenfold until we were drowning in our own rage. “Experiment successful,” marked the grand designer, “we have them where we want them. Now let’s charge them to keep providing the services, and let’s drop standards so we don’t have to spend so much on privacy (these idiots don’t care for privacy anyway, there have been so many breaches already), and let’s monetize this experiment.” Social media was finally making big money off the lab rats—off us.

Then the cloning began due to lowered security standards and we were all being duplicated and triplicated on social media sites, and our data, as well of our friends’ data, were being pilfered, willy nilly. At this point we couldn’t care less. There was no privacy anymore—after all, we were revealing our most intimate secrets via social media these days, so what more data could they steal? The ones who were worried about privacy got suckered into a message spamming scheme where you were supposed to send out a cloning warning to all your contacts—imagine the amount of cloned messages, about cloning, clogging the channel! Some of us even began receiving “friend” requests from our own clones. What a bloody mess!

I hope you are reading this and asking yourself, “Is this me?” My reply is, “If you have a social media account, it is you. Suck it up and face the hole we have descended into.”

It will take an act of courage to extricate ourselves from this experiment. To cancel duplicate social media accounts and go dormant on the remainder until the ranting stops. Here’s some tough medicine I’d like to toss out (not that anyone will pay attention): don’t award any “likes” to those attention-obsessed people who are constantly “live” on video chronicling the dull days of their lives by either showing us the interior of their wardrobes, or the grooming of their bodies, or displaying the contents they had just bought at the grocery store; don’t “like” the partisans, whichever side they are on, left or right; don’t “like” the insults, even if they are about the man we all like to hate. And don’t worry about insisting on your opinion—no one really gives a rat’s ass.

Perhaps a return to that earlier time, when we traded pictures of flowers and pets and philosophical quotes and jokes, is called for at this time. This “dialing back” may eradicate the negativity that is polluting us and casting a pall upon the land. Maybe then the emotional pain raging through our smart phones will also go away.

Now, who is willing to go backwards first?

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