I was on my way back home from visiting D.C., a Washington to Washington flight if you will and I struck up a conversation with one of my seat mates near the end of the flight. We talked about news and the changing times, and he mentioned that he had coined his own name for the age in which we are living.
The Age of Disenchantment.
We talked for a while longer and then landed. I wished him well in his travels but what he had said stuck with me. What kind of disenchantment age are we living? How has the technology that has made our lives in many ways infinitely easier also brought about such great sorrow in our lives, especially with one another.
The time in which we live has provided such a wealth of information and instant communication that we can see almost in real time tragic events which occur across the globe. This connection to the source of information has created a disenchantment from the illusion built up in our minds about the world. I believe this is largely due to our own biases and poor education but also an effect of social media that I have come to call the most dangerous narrative.
With social media and instant communication it has never been easier to push specific ideas into the mainstream. Underneath this is a dangerous and dark occurrence, division pushing. While not a unique phenomenon, social media has been designed in many cases to push people's opinions to the extreme and create polarization. Now that anyone can comment and publicly talk about events it benefits those wishing to build a following to be as controversial as possible in order to gain attention. This paired with provocateurs seeking to control minds creates a recipe for division. The easiest way to create control is to ensure a population is fighting with one another over focusing on how best to solve the problems that are causing the conflict to begin with. Again exacerbated by a corporate media intent on raking in the most profits where conflict sells.
Let me explain. Imagine this, I have a strong opinion on a specific issue, I of course talk about my position but I get nasty comments in return. These comments use rhetoric that disparages something about my personal identity. As this is social media I don’t have the time or often the ability to verify who these people are and thus these comments (especially over time) would likely make me resent these people. This is especially true when they use announced ideological language or easily identifiable labels in bios or elsewhere in their comment history.
Negative reinforcement is a powerful weight. Because of the way most brains are wired this makes it much more likely that I will remember these negative comments and associate them with any member of these ideologies.This ferments further distrust or even hate towards my perceived opposition and creates a negative feedback loop. This created by individuals who have bought into the narrative of hate and anonymous provocateurs sowing the seeds.
Most dangerous narrative indeed.
Governments and groups of all kinds thrive on this division. Chaos creates opportunity and the opportunity of ensuring a population does not want to be around each other is a breeding ground for hate.
I remember a quote I heard a while ago, it goes something like this, “Hate and the acceptance of hate are two sides of the same coin”. Criticism is always acceptable as a response to opposing ideology. However, hate will only make you a pawn in a game that seeks for your control. When two people can no longer have a conversation they joyfully run to the arms of those who will accept them and further a bubble in their mind of a perceived enemy that has nothing in common with their life. One must always remember that in this age of disenchantment the binding is created through strong bonds of communication. There are many forces that want to foster hate in your fellow man. This is to bog you down in the minutia, ensuring you are too busy and tired to effectively and accurately think about the issue and allow others to do the thinking for you. Overcoming this requires a state of being that accepts hate will exist as long as it is being perpetuated. You must never fall for the bait. Do not encourage or accept others in your circle to spew vitriol.
Prevailing over these hostilities requires great feats of humility, patience and kindness. Technology has allowed us to more clearly see the demons manifest in humanity. Denying their existence only compounds the issue. Preventing talk of these problems creates a festering wound that rears its head when the polarization reaches its breaking point. To mend the tears in our society we must encourage clear communication and find ways to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated. Taking the easy path will always be available, shoot back that nasty comment, disparage their identity. But taking the hard path of neutralizing or ignoring the negativity sent your way will go farther towards the future in which we can all stand in the light and live our lives together.
Fix the problems of tomorrow by preventing the hostile takeover of your mind by the dangerous narratives of today.
Until next time, don’t take the bait.