My wife and I were talking about just how divided our country has become on many issues especially after the recent election. I told her I think we are all seeing and hearing the byproduct of communication being perfected. For the first time in human history we are really able to see and hear what people are thinking in real time. It’s alarming and shocking to now know what your friends and family truly believe in and just how different and varied their opinions are from yours and the world. It’s as though we have been eating from the forbidden fruit of knowledge since the internet came along and the veil has been slowly lifting from our eyes to the point we can now see each other’s opinions in print, videos, movies, photos, and memes in real time and know what our brother-in-law is really thinking and feeling on any number of subjects. We are able to know what’s going on around the world now in an instant; and are being daily bombarded with opinions about it. We are beginning to know all of it; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the issues that truly divide us as a community, a nation and a society.
More of us each day around the world are using the internet more and more for work, play and education. We are willing and feel more comfortable sharing everything about our intimate selves from something as benign as what our favorite color is to sharing the results of personality and emotional intelligence quizzes, our political preferences, sexual preferences and habits, pictures and videos of ourselves, even our present state of mind and health. We communicate now so candidly that people feel no aversion to talking about their colonoscopy or hysterectomy results with their friends on their cell phone while sitting in a restaurant or in a bathroom stall in ear shot of total strangers. People say it’s no big deal. However is there a point where blunt honesty, candidness and truth stop being a good thing? In short, most everything that was purposely hidden or withheld by us in years past is slowing being shared and revealed in the public domain and sadly the prying eyes of government. We hear, think and feel instantly what others hear, think and feel by way of modern communication.
My personal feeling is the divisions that we read about today between us all have always existed but we as a society had not reached a point where we felt comfortable sharing what we truly believed out of fear of what others might think of us or out of necessity to keep the peace around the holiday dinner table. The old adage around the holidays was “we don’t talk about religion or politics or we risk arguments”. However now as a society we have become empowered to voice our thoughts, beliefs and opinions like never before. We readily share our true intimate-selves via the Internet where in years past we could not or would not feel comfortable. In years past we might have arguments about issues or people with our friends, neighbors, or relatives but we never really shared too much out of fear of alienation and future arguments. The peace was kept by not talking about politics and religion or any controversial subject. Today that is unavoidable. The internet and social media has enabled us to reveal our deeper selves without direct confrontation. It has opened the lines of communication but with it revealed the deep divisions, biases, and flaws in our characters.
The question then becomes were we better off learning of our differences slowly over time while simultaneously learning to work out those differences, or is knowing everything there is to know and recognizing readily just how different we are a good thing? It remains to be seen.
For now I will share a piece of advice, agree to disagree with your friends, relatives and neighbors at the holiday dinner table.
The bible has this to say about it, “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.” Proverbs 17:1