Polarization – a sharp division, as of a population or group, into opposing factions.
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!
I’ve been avoiding this topic for almost a year now, without really knowing why. Maybe it’s because I feel sorry for these people, or maybe it’s because it used to be my job and I feel responsible somehow. It could even be because it’s too cheap of a laugh; the kind you get when you share stories at a party or on twitter. (Which I have, on several occasions) Still, I’ve had some time to think about it, so I’ll try to mold this into something a bit deeper than just laughing at stupid people and their ridiculous understanding of the world.
For all intents and purposes, this is not just a rant regarding stupid people; this is a note of worry and of concern.
I used to work at a university college, where I spent most of my time at the student service desk. (I guess you could call it an information desk, but that’s only a small part of the job). This particular institution housed health and social education, meaning it lectured the physical and occupational therapists, social workers, child service workers and nurses of tomorrow. As some of you no doubt have experienced, an information desk attract a whole slew of stupid questions, with the added bonus of some very confused people. I realize that this is somewhat the point of an information desk, and while I am quite familiar with the phrase there’s no such thing as a stupid question, I find it to be extremely untrue. Let’s look at a few of them, and then you’ll see what I mean.