Did it happen in 2008 during the Occupy movement? Or maybe with the first declaration to run for president by Donald Trump? Or maybe it is a slow acting mental parasite that’s been spreading since the dawn of the internet. Whatever it is or whenever is started isn’t required to make the diagnosis, nuance is dying.
If you look on the web, in these opinion pieces, or at any prominent social figure, everything has become a binary. You’re either a 1 or a 0, left or right, woke or bigoted, fascist or communist, good or evil, simply based on what you believe. But ask yourself, if you’re willing, why do you believe what you believe? How did you arrive at your opinion? Did you do more than read a headline or listen to someone in your echo chamber? Were you willing to have a conversation with someone else of a differing opinion with an open mind?
As someone in my late twenties, I decided in 2015 to step away from all forms of social media and I would argue it’s been the only thing allowing me to maintain rationality, to asses the nuance of any event that has taken place. The curated algorithms have been shown to further dig people deeper into the caves of their own echo chambers. Of course when I removed myself from the grime of social media it wasn’t because I knew this was coming but solely because I was sick of seeing the outrage and hostility of differing opinions. Civil discourse was being destroyed.
Now in the present day, only seven years later, that exacerbation has only increased. For the last two years one side of the isle has painted a picture of Jan. 6 to support their narrative, and now the other side is doing the same. While one narrative refused to address the nuance early, now the new emerging narrative feels a necessity to counter the previous. But why can’t both things be true at the same time? Because the ability to accept nuance is dying.
Choose any hot button issue and you’ll find the same phenomenon. Whether left or right, people in their camps refuse to accept nuance of any situation. Consider inflation. Why is it so hard to say corporate greed and bad fiscal policies together create the inflationary spiral? Why is it fair to say everyone in support of the LGBTQ movement supports sexual content for minors while also saying everyone who is opposed to the movement hates the individuals that identify in any of those categories? I grew up with the understanding that people on an individual level are rational, capable of understanding and empathy, and generally good. But also that group think and mob mentality are bad. Regardless of your ideology, when you find yourself inside that mob mentality you begin to participate in group think and lose your ability for critical and rational thinking. This mentality forces you into missing the nuance of any given situation.
As people continue to “self sort” and entrench themselves deeper in their ideological positions and rage a culture war against the other side, I can’t help but ask myself where is our solution? I can’t help but wonder where all of this leads or how we deescalate this situation before we completely tear ourselves apart. I don’t have the answers but only questions. I hope and pray we all learn to see the humanity in the other side and find a way to meet in the middle because as we continue to bunker down we also continue to create a domino effect of bigger and more dangers to our current quality of life.