A Nation of Extremists

July 3, 2014

It’s inevitable, I suppose, but Facebook is a major factor in our lives. So much so, that it has become our de facto news source, entertainment center and water cooler. And much more. 

That being the case, we’re wont to notice trends as they appear in our news feeds, given enough attention. And really, certain trends require little attention at all. They are simply plastered all over our news feed, often in flashing neon and Day-Glo orange. 

 

“OVOMIT NEEDS TO BE IMPEACHED!!!!” 

“GAYS ARE A BUNCH OF SINNING A$$HOLES AND WILL BURN IN HELL!!!!”

“CONSERVATIVE A$$WIPES ARE DENYING OUR RIGHTS AGAIN!!!!!” 

“THE GOP IS FULL OF HATE-FILLED GASBAGS WHO ALL NEED TO GO TO HELL!!!” 

“DEMOCRATIC COMMIES ARE GOING TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS!!!” 

“WE WILL REPEAL THE SECOND AMENDMENT, SO HELP US GOD!!!!” 

 

Nice, isn’t it, when you open your news feed to see the rainbow on fire? That’s pretty much it, as I have folks from every persuasion on my friends list, every color of the rainbow, so to speak, represented. And instead of that rainbow being a thing of beauty, it has become a menace. A glowing, radioactive, angry menace. They have erupted into verbal wars on my page before, once when I was on a trip without a computer and my earlier smart phone was incapable of deleting the offending parties until I got back thirty hours later. My page was smoldering when I did so. 

The above examples are the kinds of things I see daily on my feed. If you have any divergence in your friends list, you probably do, too. Or perhaps you cater to only one viewpoint among friends, and you only have one type of diatribe that shows up regularly. 

But here’s my question. Doesn’t it feel, well, wrong, somehow? 

Whatever happened to jovial, good-natured conversation, where points of view could be debated with politeness and civility? Is this what it has come to? Imaginary lines drawn in imaginary sand over the issues? I’m no idealist. But honestly, this trend of bashing the hell out of those who disagree with us is alarming and confusing to me. We don’t have a history of decimating those who disagree with us outside of war. We just disagreed and didn’t worry too much about it. I don’t get it. 

One thing I do get, with crystal clarity: We are becoming a nation of extremists. 

All it takes is a few folks who rant and rave on FB, and the rest tend to nod along like so many bobblehead dolls, without really thinking about what the ranters are saying. And it seems to me the rants and raves have become increasingly polarized of late. Louder, more hate-filled, more passionate, more suggestive. And I suppose the point is not that this is so much accepted communication, but in a world where everything is a status update away from being changed, only the loudest and most obnoxious and most vile posts will be noticed. 

I can’t really blame them, though. Attention hounds will always be loud and obnoxious. 

Shame on us, instead, for giving them an audience. We should know better. 

 

 

 

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