Are Nuanced Discussions a Thing of the Past? [OP-ED]
About 15 years or so ago, while a student at LSU-S, I wrote an opinion piece for the school newspaper- the Almagest - called a 'Swan Song to Human Intimacy'. What inspired me to write that 2,000 word opus was that every day I'd just see all these kids running around with headphones in, music up, head buried in their phones. There was no human interaction. Nobody talked to each other. All these professors and kids just were walking around in their self built isolation chambers. It blew my mind. I theorized in that piece that if we as humans kept going down that path, we'd lose all the things that give us our humanity. Fast forward a decade or so and my worst fears are coming true.
Social media has created a world where nuanced discussions are quickly becoming distinct. And it's not happening in certain segments of the population, it's happening with everyone. Whether you are young or old, black or white, conservative or liberal...we have this toxic habit of being married to a certain set of ideas and if anyone disagrees with those ideas, we attack them and try to 'cancel' them. Before the rise of technology and social media, people with opposing ideas could talk to each other and discuss things reasonably.
Now, that is far from the case. If you support police, you're a Nazi. If you support Black Lives Matter, you're some sort of dangerous liberal nut. I mean, we can go down the list. These conversations aren't cut and dry. For instance, I'm all for equal civil rights and against systematic racism. I'm also very supportive of the police. If I posted that on social media, I KNOW that people I've known for decades would argue with me, yell at me, fight with me or chastise me for one or both opinions. Bad cops are a problem. Out of date or ineffective laws are a problem. Police, as a whole, are not a problem. Many are good people who have made lots of sacrifices to try and make the world a better place. I don't want to defund the police. I want re-fund them, give them the proper training and education they need. Plus, with extra training, you can more easily identify the folks that can't cut it and shouldn't have a gun or a badge.
On the other side of that coin, black folks haven't always been given a fair shake at life. And we need to work on getting guys and gals that are were wrongfully convicted of crimes out. We need to do better about identifying judges who will throw the book certain people because of the color of their skin but let others walk. While we are in a MUCH better place than we were 50 years ago, there's still some MAJOR problems as far as racial inequalities and rights go. And we need to continue working on and fixing those problems because it's the right thing to do and because black lives do indeed matter. However, with that said, law & order shouldn't be viewed as this terrible thing. There's nuance to these conversation. There's details. It's not an either/or proposition. There's a lot of things messed up across the board.
But, that's the point. I could have reasonable conversations with people 15 or 20 years ago about these issues without fear of it turning into a fist fight. I'm not so married to any one idea that I couldn't listen and respect someone else's views. Today, that's no longer the case for large portions of the population. We like to blame our division as a society on 'the media' or politicians or certain organizations...but the truth is, before we cast any stones, we need to take a long look in the mirror. The lack of direct human contact is turning us into monsters. And unless we get out of the echo chamber of the internet and realize we're all just humans that want to help each other, empathy will die. Nuance will die. Rational thought will die. And we'll be no better than the animals we eat for breakfast because humanity will go extinct and be lost forever.