Extreme. It sounds pretty sweet when you’re on a snowboard, or you’re jumping out of a plane with nothing but a chute on your back.
When you’re talking about the increasing rate of people and groups dividing, it’s a whole different story. You’re either on one side of an argument or the other. You’re a liberal or a conservative, you like Pepsi or you drink Coke, you’re against changing things up or you like to mix it up; it seems like the volume level on groups picking sides has been slowly cranking upwards and my ears are starting to hurt.
Now more than ever, the divide between groups in society seem to be straying further and further from a gentle medium. People are getting extremely extreme about extremism, even using one single word two more times than they should in a sentence.
It seems as though people have these views on certain things that gradually get stronger over time, to the point where some people just can’t help but start defending their own side as if it has truly become part of who they are.
One of the clearest examples of this is in American politics, and how both sides have groups on the far side that have almost become militant in what they believe, from things about defending an eccentric orange fella to scowling at anyone drinking from a plastic straw.
An “If you aren’t with us, you’re against us,” type of mentality.
The problem with all of this is the shift that takes place when we start pitting our beliefs against others. The more people defend it, the more people naturally confirm their biases and ignore new information. Not to mention the emotions that start solidifying a perspective even more. Nobody likes losing, so giving in just disappears as an option- and extremism is born. And as a result of this, you have these polarizing sides that feel the need to voice their opinion and beliefs even stronger, even louder, because they believe that to sway someone who is rock solid in their own ways of thinking they have to come at them even harder to win their opinion over.
Which, as a result, could very well just push someone further into their own corner. There’s this delusion that if someone doesn’t feel their own beliefs powerfully, that they might be wrong. Like how a huge Trump supporter or a massive Biden fan would each seem more legitimate and invested in their knowledge than someone who was reasonably, but only casually, interested in either candidate.
It just pushes that in-group/out-group effect forward, continuing to evolve into a battle between two sides, forcing someone to declare which side they’re fighting for.
Of course, this goes beyond politics but the given one is just such great example.
It’s everywhere, from some people feeling like almost everything in the world offends them nowadays, to the people who actually are offensive and see nothing wrong with it; looking down on people who don’t share their backwards ways of living even though it simply doesn’t fly in present times.
The cycle continues on, where the people who get offended feel the need to voice their opinion even louder, while the backwards folks double down even harder in distaste for someones sensitivity. It’s like the grey area in the middle that used to blend everything better together starts to evaporate, leaving more and more people to declare the side they’d rather be on.
I don’t think it goes without saying that continuing down that path is unlikely to make people change their minds in what they believe and one day just serendipitously switch sides.
I think that modelling our beliefs proportionately and a willingness to accept new information and new opinions is the way to getting this raucous noise to a more appropriate level. Having a belief that’s the equivalent of screaming is not a reasonable way to get someone to understand something.
Because the reality is, there’s usually truth to both sides and without operating out of a blended area I’d never even hope to be able to accept parts from each. Ideally, I think there’s truth in accepting parts from both sides.
Life doesn’t need to be so overwhelmingly binary, or to be so “one-way-or-the-other“.
There’s a reason Goldilocks didn’t like the piping hot porridge or the freezing cold one. She wanted the one that was just right. And where was that one? Somewhere calmly in the middle.
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