I think its because we are so bombarded with information every second of every waking hour that we are inclined to believe we live in the worst of times. The reality is probably the complete opposite. Generally speaking I should add. There are likely some Syrians and those peeps domiciled in places like (darkest) Venezuela who would disagree with the assertion that…
Our perceived conflict is largely an imagined one, an ideological confrontation where we conceive ourselves to be battling for the future soul of our (as yet unrealized) Utopian society… not really in any meaningful way… Today’s insurrectionist is found lounging at home in leafy, green suburbia, sporting a suspiciously stained bathrobe and a bowl of Fruit Loops balanced on their burgeoning midsection, eyeing their split-screened twitter feed mentions and scrolling through Buzzfeed articles. (I feel the need to lampoon and typecast these people purely for my own gratification, in reality they are likely just like me, only prettier… and likely wealthier)
Of course there are those who will take it to the next level by punching people and getting dressed up in ninja-esque garb to accelerate trash cans through store-fronts… but I tend to believe that this is a minority of a minority. (People holding extreme uncompromising views on the left and right is thought to be only about 8%) Which is really quite encouraging… because that means (quickly checks his math) 92% of society is sane. Maybe its 8% on either side of the divide? Still… that’s… eh… (counts on fingers) 84%.
Of course a collection of crazies gathered together in one place to achieve some level of mischief or indeed the modern revolutionary (with their nine social media accounts) start to make us doubt our ability to cooperate with out fellows or indeed what we believe of bipartisanship generally, which is then accelerated by the ‘news’ corporations who see us less like people and more as a commodity to be manipulated and exploited for profit. Not to mention the bots, foreign governments and that familiar nemesis, the Illuminati.
‘There are some encouraging signs of polarisation’ – Dr. Israel Shahak, chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights and holocaust survivor
‘Nothing flippant inheres in this remark; a long and risky life has persuaded him that only an open conflict of ideas and principles can produce any clarity. Conflict may be painful, but the painless solution does not exist in any case and the pursuit of it leads to the painful outcome of mindlessness and pointlessness’ – Christopher Hitchens.
Hitchens went on in a later interview to add;
‘Polarization and the dialectic is what clarifies things’
While I agree that polarization and conflict are potentially good things in so far as they force us to confront and enunciate what it is that we actually believe in… I really don’t think we are there (yet) and that we are not as polarized as we have been led to believe. I think for the most part we still like each other, and that our Venn diagrams overlap more than they don’t… especially once we get up close and personal and out of our unyielding online personas. That and getting out from under the demagogues we subscribe to.
I like the idea of using the litmus test of ‘How is this person making their money?’ Ad revenue, patronage, subscription services… these people need to keep you hooked (so they can eat… and buy Teslas). They market a perceived deficiency to you, for example that you lack an awareness of the fast paced current event cycle or just an ideological inadequacy that they know people use to define themselves. I think people want to feel that they are connected to something… And there are more than enough people offering to fill that void with something that sounds appealing. Plus you get to belong to a tribe, be that progressives, conservatives or libertarians. These are your people, they got your back.
Of course they don’t really. Got your back I mean. Belonging to some nebulous tribe of people be they democrats or republicans doesn’t really mean anything. The person more likely to have your back is your neighbor. A relationship we often neglect in favor of virtue signalling our allegiance to some broader collective.
Strange how we’ve evolved from something that was, at one point, a vital survival imperative.