Friday, 28 December 2012

Remembering 2012: An End to Conversation and the Rise of Personal Absolutism

As another year becomes memory, most of us look back and conduct personal assessments of what could have been.  I find myself looking forward with doubt and trepidation at 2013, in consideration of a greater pattern of social norms that seem to have taken hold of us this past year.  I believe that 2012 was the year when we stopped having as many conversations with each other, and started to withdraw to the safety of the perfection of our own ideas.  2012 saw many of us become absolutists.

The greatest problem we face as a species is a lack of care and understanding for the opinions of others: a mode of sociopathic self-interest that has presented itself in our entertainment, politics, interpersonal relations, and media.  Many of us seem to feel that we are further apart from the people that we disagree with than ever before.  We are addicted to critique without reason; we make judgements without facts.  It is as if everything has a bloody “Like” button and we shoot anything that we dislike with our unlicensed, verbal automatic weapons.

For those of us who have forgotten, friendly disagreement and negotiation of position used to be the way progress happened in previous centuries.  Even in politics, when an election was over there was a respect that came with a result that allowed for parties to compromise and agree upon imperfect solutions.  Perfection exists only in our minds, but too many of us fail to realise the difference between the real and the ideal.

People have become increasingly entrenched and polarised within indefensible positions of the personal and absolute perfection of their own ideas.  It is as if we receive programming to believe that there is only one outcome or possibility for any given scenario.  We don’t care to find out facts for ourselves, and often our supposedly perfect positions are not our own.  Why find out about the underlying factors behind someone else’s views when we can refer to a handy infographic or bar chart from an increasingly biased source?  We allow talking heads to do our thinking and speaking for us…

We now lose friends over our choice of political parties.  We now lose lovers over our taste in music and movies.  We now lose sleep over a multitude of simple choices that people used to recognise as trivial or unimportant.  Every nuanced difference between anything that can be compared becomes a cliff, impasse, divide, or gap.  Everything is presented as a zero-sum game where someone will lose, and losses will be unfathomably great and permanent.  Choose or lose!  Believe or leave!  Win or die!

Maybe we should all agree that it is time for all of us to stop losing, and to recoup the stupid losses that we gave up last year.  Not every division that we can perceive is provably grave, nor is every decision that we take going to result in the end of an age.  Let’s back down from the cliff, step away from the divide, and take the overpass across the impasse.

It would be nice to have a blog headline at the end of 2013 that read: “2013: A Year of Well-Reasoned Thought and Genuine Negotiation”.

I realise that it might be a bit unlikely.   I would be willing to negotiate my personal desires down to: “2013: A Year of Frank and Honest Conversation”.

No comments:

Post a Comment