Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Looking at Life through Polarized Glasses

"REMINDER:  If you are liberal, I THINK YOU ARE A MORON!!!  UNFRIEND ME!!!!"

I have lots of Facebook friends on either side (or ANY side) of the political spectrum.  Some of them are pretty extreme in their views, too.  However, this line really hit me like a plank across the face.  This was how one of my Facebook friends closed a vitriolic rant about MSNBC, particularly with regard to their slanted coverage of the Republican National Convention.  It wasn't aimed specifically at me, obviously.  I don't even consider myself a "liberal" per se, though I do tend to lean left.  Still, it seriously rankled me because:
  1. It shows the poster values political views more than friendship and yet...
  2. The poster puts the burden of discarding their friendship on the other party.
  3. It's a very generalized attack which makes no allowances for each individual friend and just how much they might agree or disagree with the poster's views.
  4. The "reminder" at the beginning indicates that we're already supposed to be aware of this person's class-action hostility.
  5. It's painfully obvious that the poster's intent here is simply to nip any attempt at debate in the bud, i.e. it amounts to something like, "Don't confuse me with your facts!  I'm just right, so SHUT UP!!!"
Unfortunately, there seems to be more and more of this sort of thing going around.  This presidential election is looking to be a very ugly one, in many ways worse than 2008 was.  Right now the American public is highly polarized and deeply divided.  The political rhetoric has long since gotten nasty and seems to be getting worse.  It's shocking how often I hear of people saying they "unfriended" or were "unfriended" by someone simply on account of their political views.  And while I deeply appreciate the more rational and sensible people I know on either side of the fence, (and yes, I said "either" as in "both Republican and Democrat",) I've still had to deal with Facebook friends saying things like, "I don't want any of your BS, got it?" for responding to their inflammatory (re-)posts, even if (or ESPECIALLY if) all I did was present verifiable information or simple common sense that would seem to counter what they said.  On comment threads all over the internet I'm seeing more and more statements like, "I don't associate with people like you," "Don't try to reason with idiots," "These people will never accept the truth," "Just block him," etc..  It seems there's less and less desire to try to bring others around and more and more of a desire just to preach to "us" while hoping that "they" will just go away.

America is divided.  Doesn't anybody remember what being divided means?

I just want this election to be over...and I hope we as a nation survive it.