Thursday, December 31, 2020

Last Deep Thoughts Day of 2020

One last post I want to preserve from 2020:

December 29, 2020

As this rancid mayonnaise jar of a year ends, you might feel aghast at the behaviors or beliefs of other American citizens or hopeless about your ability to make things better. Please remember that none of what we're seeing came out of thin air. The siege lines between political factions, the man wearing his mask under his nose, and the innate fear of "the other side" -- all of these are just symptoms of deeper issues.

One reason we've gotten here is our smartphone-induced need to boil everything down to a sound bite without nuance. This has lowered the prestige of education, science, and journalism, resulting in a chaotic, fragmented news environment where disinformation is amplified. When every story is framed with exactly two sides, one "side" has to lose for the other to win and it becomes easier to dehumanize others while safe inside an echo chamber.

We need to fix causes, not symptoms. We cannot repair the divisions in this country without first repairing or reinventing the influential sources that shape peoples' beliefs and understanding of the world.

I don't have a sound bite solution that will fix everything, but here are some simple things I'll be doing in 2021.

  1. I'll continue to support traditional journalism and make it a point to read past the headlines of newspapers with differing viewpoints (allsides.com makes this easier).
  2. I'll try to look past peoples' behavior or bumper stickers and remember that it's dangerously easy to reduce someone to a false caricature when I don't know anything else about them.
  3. I'll try to be the best example of the type of person I'd want around me in my local community and professional network.

Thanks for indulging my final TED Talk of 2020.

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