We Need to Talk


I have in the past engaged in the sort of fiddlesticks I disavow today. Nobody’s perfect. I’d like to think that the current me wouldn’t get sucked into something like the pink headband controversy.

We need to talk.

It’s obvious that extreme ideologies are dangerous when we’re witnessing an evil deed in the name of an ideology.  But the danger of ideology is very hard to see and acknowledge in ourselves.

So, no kidding.  We actually need to talk.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  And when all you have is an ideology, everybody looks like an enemy.

top5We are not enemies. We are just people with different political views. And those views are not logical or intellectual. They seem to be innate.  If you don’t believe me, read about Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica has, among other things, taken a “bag data” approach to the Big 5 Personality Traits. They’ve used social media and other data to identify you on the Big 5 spectrum,  and they’ve used that data to help their clients influence the Brexit vote and win the White House.  Cambridge Analytica knows things about you that you don’t know about yourself.

Like, for example, that if you are extremely organized and have low disgust sensitivity, you’re susceptible to anti-immigration arguments.  And what this means is that the chance of you changing your politics is about equivalent to you changing your hygiene habits.  

So if nobody’s really going to change much, the only answer is compromise. If you want to foster peace, you must talk honestly, without sarcasm, spite and anger.  So when you are out on social media, posting and sharing hyperbolically negative things about people and views you don’t like, you aren’t helping.  Punctuating differences only creates more discord.

Imagine that your wife has a lower disgust sensitivity than you do, and she hates the way you leave the kitchen a mess.  Your wife yelling at you that you are a pig doesn’t make you want to clean up.  In fact, if she keeps yelling at you, eventually you’re going to decide she’s a bitch and you guys are going to end up divorced.  But if your wife gives you a kiss and says “thanks!” every time you wash a dish, you might want to do it again even better.  You could care less about how the kitchen looks.  But you might want to compromise to make your wife happy, for the good of the household, the relationship and the family.

So please, let’s start talking about the stuff we can agree upon and not the stuff that divides us.  

And let’s consider the possibility that boycotting, protesting, burning, yelling, smearing and throwing stones — virtual, verbal and actual — only results in more of the same.

One response to “We Need to Talk

  1. Pingback: The Twilight of True Dialogue and WOOTW #48 | Robert Mitchell Jr.

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