The year 2016 has not been a good year.
From terror attacks, shooting of police and a political circus that resembles an SNL spoof, one could make the assumption that we’re closer to a future resembling Mad Max than one like Mayberry.
While politicians point fingers, people post Facebook memes that are less factual than a comic book and polarization appears to be at an all-time high in our country – I believe I’ve discovered the cause of all this.
We’ve all become keyboard quarterbacks. We fail to see the other side. We fail to realize other people are just that… people.
Recently a story was released on the internet highlighting a man in Southern Illinois who drove his SUV into a group of Black Lives Matter protestors — who were blocking the highway. Considering the recent events in Nice, France of a man driving a truck and killing 84 people, it could be surmised that this was pretty dangerous and lives could have been lost.
But on the internet, people cheered on the Southern Illinois driver story. The protesters shouldn’t have been blocking the highway! They got what they deserve! Good for him!
This attitude may have been different if it was, say a group of school-aged kids, but since it was BLM, it was apparently fine and dandy to mow them down.
This is the problem folks. From the ease of our keyboards we’re able to decide what life matters and what doesn’t. When a truck in Nice, France kills 84 people, we’re horrified. When somebody drives into a crowd of people with a political protest we don’t agree with – good for them.
Now statistically speaking, we’re in the safest times of human history. Violence against police is at historically low levels, violent crime is down and the average American is more likely to be struck dead by a purple dinosaur wearing a hawaiian shirt than be shot (Seriously, you have a 1 in 514,147 chance of getting shot to death).
But turn on the news or log into your favorite news website and you’d think there was a civil war being fought on our streets.
The problem, naturally is you’re more likely to hear about things occurring across the nation than you did 30, 40 and 50 years ago. But people are seeing all this violence in their media, they’re seeing the middle class struggle in these uncertain economic times and the question becomes… who is to blame?
Apparently political identity now is who you blame for our society’s ills. The right? The left? The majority? The minority? Who can we stick our finger at.
Stick your finger at police? These people serve and protect us, usually in the most dangerous of situations. They deal with criminals over and over, they have tremendous stress put on their lives. And when a traffic stop goes wrong – which statistically a traffic stop is the most dangerous situation a police officer can be in since it’s the unknown – it’s national news. But instead of “hey let’s look at this individual police officer or the situation” it’s a blanket statement made by people on social media on all police officers.
I think the same statement could be made that everytime there is a shooting, we tend to lump groups in right alongside the shooter like they pulled the trigger.
Use a little bit of critical thinking. If the actions of one person defines the entire group – than what must aliens think about the whole human race?
Media is going for the headlines, going for the hot story. They too often present a story with two sides, no matter if it’s a tragedy or a tweet on Twitter by a presidential candidate. This gives the chance for people to say “Well that other side is up to something again!” “Look what the other side is doing!”
A political trick for years, and I mean centuries, has been creating “the other.” If you can keep people divided enough and afraid of another viewpoint, they become easier to control. Social media – despite spreading more information – has not helped this.
Too often people find social media echo-chambers – just a bunch of people that have the same viewpoint – that scream about “the others” until they become blue in the face. Surely it’s the other to blame. Since we don’t have to be face-to-face with one another anymore, we can use extreme rhetoric by just the pressing of a few buttons.
These echo-chambers of people have served to dehumanize “the other.” This is showcased front and center with the Southern Illinois event. It’s showcased when someone drives a truck into a crowd in France, it’s showcased when people getting gunned down by a lone shooter and people rush to make it about politics, it’s showcased when somebody posts a political meme saying members of the opposing political party should be rounded up and shot.
Do you even realize what you’re doing? People have lives. The loss of any life is a tragedy regardless of political affiliation, race, country and profession. We’ve hit a point now, where people have put themselves in boxes and don’t care about the lives of people in other boxes.
All from the comfort of your keyboard…this folks … this is how we got to where we’re at now.
By Brandon Hansen/Managing Editor of Chewelah Independent