It seems like most people can agree America is a pretty divided nation right now. It’s not that we have some disagreements. We’ve always had those.
Sure, the nature of the disagreements have escalated a bit. It seems like we’ve gone from how best to manage America within the boundaries of capitalism to whether America is great or should be abandoned for a more government-controlled approach.
It’s a significant divide, to be sure, and a very deep and rich debate we should have as a nation. But that’s the problem. It’s not the debate, but the fact that we can’t have it.
Social media, and electronic communication, in general, bear far more responsibility for the deep divisions in this country than the divisions themselves.
Nearly everyone in this country has a phone in their hand 24/7. It’s always there, always available, and always on. We don’t talk face to face, anymore. We don’t make friendly conversations with strangers. We don’t even talk to each other at dinner.
Not only are we unable to have a meaningful conversation in person, but we can’t even talk on the phone, anymore. People in offices sitting across the desk from each other will instant message or use a chat app instead of carry on a live conversation. Instead of calling a friend, people will thumb a 30 minute text conversation that could have taken five minutes by voice call.
People have been trained to take their thoughts to the keyboard instead of sharing them with people face to face. Part of it is fear. You don’t want to lose friends, or a job, because of what you say.
Part of it is comfort. It’s just easier to be harsh or mean when you’re sitting at a keyboard versus sitting in front of the person who is the target of your comment. As with most things these days, there are no consequences when you right something hateful or hurtful to or about someone else. “Say it to my face,” is a lost idea, at this point.
But the biggest thing is that we have an entire generation of people coming up who have no idea how to talk to one another. They don’t know how to disagree. They don’t know how to resolve disputes. They don’t know how to solve problems together. They don’t even know how to look someone in the eyes and tell them they love them.
Technology has crippled society and our ability to communicate. Not just communicate, but our ability to empathize, disagree, but still respect.
Until we get people’s face away from the screen and back in front of another face, we don’t stand a chance.