I’m not listening, but you’re wrong

Maybe I’m being nostalgic in thinking earlier in my life points of differentiation or differences of opinion were acceptable. I’m not talking about some feel good, all opinions matter bullshit. I’m simply talking about not outright rejection or calling into question the other’s intelligence and in political cases, being anti-American. Furthermore, I feel like in the past difference of opinion might not have been respected but was at least tolerated.

The internet was supposed to open us to the vast opinions and knowledge of the world. Instead, it’s closed us off. Holed up in bunkers with like-minded people who feed our desire to be right and fuel out indignation towards those who think differently than we do. This ‘siloing’ has even moved into where we choose to live.

24hour news channels vie to be the most extreme and pick off from the edges with screaming and one-sided opinion shows confused by viewers as actual news. False stories spread like wildfire on social media and politicians use that to their advantage.

A president and political party that has prided itself on rule of law and the will of the people is fighting the legitimate outcome of an election and spreading vast lies. The opposing party has completely lost itself in identity politics and is not listening to those outside their echo chamber. Lost are the ideas that come from open, spirited debate. Debate that knows that no matter how much I may disagree with the person across the table from me, we both want the same outcome, a better situation. The other does not have any ill will towards me, my people or our country.

We can no longer listen to what others are saying with the idea that we may be able to persuade them by understanding their side. Instead, we wait for the sounds coming out of their mouth to cease, so we can speak. Having thought of our rebuttal while they were talking, rather than listening and then responding. It’s not just politics, like hunkering down has gone from silos on the internet to neighborhoods and friendships. Not listening has worked its way into the way we interact with one another in general. No longer is someone simply off target or wrong. They have to have ill intentions and are stupid.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. Discourse may have always been raw but at least we understood that without consensus nothing would get done. Now we seem to be content with resolutionless conflict and the self-righteous indignation that if done our way it would be better.