Calls for unity vs. the dumpster fire that is social media

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Go on any social platform these days — and I know social platforms, even the beloved IG, are generally divisive in many respects — and you’ve got a mix of stuff like:

  • Hot takes on Trump
  • Hot takes on other leaders
  • “This is no worse than the flu”
  • “The numbers don’t add up”
  • “This is China’s fault”
  • “Trump made a guy drink fish pond chemicals”
  • “Misinformation”
  • “We need Sanders”
  • “If you get laid off, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and hustle”
  • “Buyouts”
  • “We cannot die for Wall Street!”
  • Etc, etc.

For each of these above takes, there is a corresponding extreme opposite take, such as “Trump is sent by God!” and/or “How could you be so dumb as to believe FOX News?” (Those examples are predominantly American.)

So you see all these people get in digital arguments and talk past each other for a thread, most of it ultimately signifying nothing … and we know from experience that a lot of people flex one way on social media / mobile platforms, then behave an entirely different way with their families and their bank accounts. (This explains some of the “closeted Trump voter” stuff from 2016, too. Guys telling their wives, “I’d never vote for that pig,” and then doing it anyway, because they liked that his name was on buildings and assumed their 401K would get better.)

So, broadly in a time where we need unity, reassurance, and proper information … we sparingly have any of the three, and mostly have increased divisiveness and digital hooting and hollering.

Now, thankfully there are some positive moments within all this around people singing from balconies, stories of strangers on the street, stories of “the helpers,” etc. Humanity is not a wasteland and not all is lost. Not at all.

But at a time where you figured we’d kind of band together and try to get through it, most of what I see as I scroll around on my computer from my couch is predominantly negative. Everyone has “a take” and “a platform.”

Two quick hits from Twitter on all this →

  • My friend Scott rightfully noted that “life happens in the gray between two extremes.” In these moments, try to remember that. The extremes get the most attention but it’s not often the reality of life.
  • My other friend sent me this thing about how fear, anger, and negative emotions reduce human agency, which is logical. Couple of things on this topic: my former brother-in-law, who at one point was among my best friends and now will not answer a simple text of mine about how his child is doing, used to always refer to people’s “agency,” so now I have a negative association with the word. Oops. Also, I’m currently on Day 27/28 of not drinking, right? In the process, I read a lot about addiction and brain pathways. People are legitimately addicted to Trump and ranting about Trump. Their anger and fear about him has rewired their brain structure. That’s terrifying, but it’s happening — and I think that informs a lot of the discourse around this moment.

Is this a broader argument for “getting woke?” Sure. At a simpler level, maybe just try to avoid rushing to snap judgement and attacking the hot takes of others. See people where they’re at. Even if they sound legitimately f’n crazy to you, try to understand why and where they got those takes from. It might help you understand yourself better, honestly.

Let’s try better! (Myself included.)

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