Facebook Has Us Talking to Those Who Think Like Us—and That’s Not Good Enough

I
do the same thing, scrolling down through my Facebook page and agreeing (for
the most part) with this or that comment. Perhaps we all do. As the US gets
more and more polarized, there are only two sides, only two ways to understand
an issue: our way and the wrong-minded way.

Foolish as that may be, it’s comfortable. It’s nice to have your opinions well regarded. It’s an ego-booster, makes
you feel good and sleep well, but it doesn’t do a single thing to change minds.
Minds are changed by listening,
carefully listening to another point
of view and looking at a world-view through another pair of eyes

We live in a very complicated country and,
for the most part, grew up with our tribe—those who went to the same schools,
came from pretty much the same economic background and shared political thoughts,
if we ever took the time to do that. So it’s hard for a middle-class,
white-collar guy like me to truly understand what it’s like to have a livelihood
simply dry up. I’ve never been out of
a job. Since I was twelve and delivered prescriptions on my bicycle, there was always a job there.

But if you’re a third-generation coal miner
and politics or the environment or the seam simply runs out, it’s not so
pretty. There’s no place else to go.
You don’t know another trade, your house is half paid off and your kids are in
school. Healthcare, retirement benefits and a good paycheck are suddenly gone…and
you’re scared shitless. How could you not
be
?

I
saw an interesting remark by a writer who lived in the mid to late eighteen
hundreds, a guy named Arthur Helps: “Reading
is sometimes an ingenious device for avoiding thought
.”

We’re reading (and writing) more today than ever before, yet we
pretty much tweet, text, read and communicate with the like-minded. It doesn’t have to be that way, but Facebook, MSNBC
and Fox News are organized to keep us
in our comfort zones.
It can’t stay that way if we’re ever going to
fix this country.

Think
about that the next time you check in to social media. Just sayin’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *