I’d like to talk about this little thing called polarization. Why? Because we’re all doing it every single day. Personally I blame the media, but we are all at some fault here. This problem is halting everything that even remotely looks like progress, and it’s dividing us into separate camps when it comes to even the smallest things. What the hell am I talking about? Everything, actually, but to make it easier I’ll stick with two examples. Today’s youth and our bodies. It seems to me that in every discussion regarding one of those topics (or a myriad of others), people are neatly split into two camps.
I realize that even as I’m typing this, I am putting myself in a third camp. I’m sure many others are in here with me, but we’re the quiet ones, so in the hyper-global screaming contest that encompass today’s papers, blogs (self-burn) and social media – we’re practically non-existent. (All it takes for evil to prevail, and so forth . . .)
Let me start by calling out the media. (Easier to blame an institution than real human beings, right?) Almost every single fluff piece written by ‘journalists’ today is based on a straw man, and often void of any credible source. Clickbait articles disregard all form of censorship, ignore all fallacies and end up in bold script on the ‘front page’ as it were. And we fucking click it! Upon reading that ‘your candy has had poop-fingers on it’, ‘youths today have it worse than ever!’ or ‘fat is the new skinny and is actually quite healthy’, we immediately have a reaction to it. (Some pretend that we don’t, and that we simply clicked it ‘ironically’ and don’t care or are above such matters. I know I do, but I can assure you some deep instinct in me always react.) These reactions vary from fluff piece to fluff piece and from person to person, but since the articles are written the way they are – bold statements and downright fact-claiming – there’s not much wiggle room: We either agree, or we don’t. Often strongly, at that. The problems begin when we vehemently disagree. Because, of course we must voice our opinion on it if we feel that it’s wrong or that it misrepresents us.
The thing is, though, it doesn’t! Because it doesn’t represent us at all!
The media has been publishing articles for a while now concerning how rough it is to grow up hyper-connected, always online and with the very world at your feet – and an almost iron cast duty to grasp it as soon as you can! Too much is expected, the tabloids write. Too many choices pressed on them far too early. They’re supposed to excel in everything from the youth soccer club to the spelling-troupe and beauty contest or whatever they’re doing in school these days. They hit the ground running, and then their feet give in way too early and they crash. They have mental breakdowns, they can’t continue like this! They’re depressed! Everything is upside down! No time to be kids anymore, the latest headlines read. I’ll admit that I fell for this, the first time around. And being the (semi) adult that I am, and working at a university to boot, I disagreed. ‘They don’t have it so bad!’ I said. Mostly to my wife, while waving the newspaper around, dressed in my robe at 4:30 in the morning. (I’m feeling old, if you didn’t quite get that.) Soon enough, more gullible people came out of the woodwork, and the articles morphed into ‘when I was young!’ and ‘uphill both ways’ and all that jazz. Now the papers are saturated with articles and think-pieces claiming things were even worse for youths twenty/thirty/forty years ago. And that, of course, our parents’ and grandparents’ generations paved the way for an easy future today’s youth could live in. So which one is it? Who has it worse?
None of them!
I recently had a discussion with my wife regarding ‘today’s youth.’ (Having dinner at 12 p.m and watching JAG on the . . . you get where I’m going.) And we couldn’t for the life of us figure out who these troubled teenagers and students were. Because even though we see hundreds of them every week, almost none of them match the picture the media is painting. Because most of them are located somewhere in between. The papers want sensationalism and clicks, and they care more about that than representing an absolute truth. (Impossible, I know.) And we, the people, tread wrong every time we mistake these articles for ‘the truth’. If you want to know if the kids are alright, ask the damn kids! If you want to know what body-type men prefer, ask them! Better yet, go to a porn site and view the comments. (Most civilized comment-section you’ll ever see, I swear!) Search for ‘skinny’, ‘small tits’, ‘large tits’, ‘plump’, ‘thick’, ‘mature’ and read the damn comments! We – men and women alike – love all (healthy and unhealthy, for better or worse) sizes, colors, bodies and icky parts! If you read a paper, even a respected one, they’ll have you believe that only one body type is attractive and ‘natural’. (Plump or skinny, it varies from week to week) Stop throwing your damn arguments into a brick wall, arguing against something that doesn’t represent reality. At least when it comes to people’s preferences and life choices: Ask them first! How the hell can the media know what I think is sexy, and how my childhood was, and what is healthy for me? They can’t. Period!
We can’t have a fucking discussion about anything if you’re either for or against, pro or anti! The sides need to be weighed and the arguments need to be varied. No problem has only one solution! This isn’t progress; we’re devolving into the future, shaving down every discussion until there’s only two mutually exclusive solutions left and nothing in between. I know it’s tempting to fall back on the ‘deal with it’ bandwagon on this. Like I said, I also like to pretend like these articles don’t get to me and that I always see through their bullshit. Which is why I’ll end this post with one of my all-time favorite song-titles from the Manic Street Preachers – “If you tolerate this, then your children will be next.”
Don’t believe big brother’s lies, and so forth.