Friday, July 16, 2010

Most of Us Can't Handle The Truth

The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it. - Morpheus, The Matrix
I've been thinking a lot about how political discussions with people has become less and less interesting as age and technology set in.  It seems that discussing politics now is akin to jabbing yourself in the eye with a #2 pencil and slamming your face into a vat of iodine - painful and fruitless.

My political leanings could be viewed at the surface as "liberal".  However I tend to think of them as more as "destructive".  They don't serve to necessarily outright "improve" anybody's well being, but rather point out a fact I continue to rally against even though time and time again I'm proven to be right - Americans are full of shit.

Case in point - I have a people in my life who are staunch conservatives.  Most of what comes out of their mouths is rhetoric they heard from some talk radio or cable news outlets such as:

"...protecting our borders..."
"...ruining this great country..."
"...liberal agenda..."
"...trying to make America a socialist state..." 
"...drill, baby, drill..."

You get the idea.  When trying to understand their viewpoints on things like health care, immigration, finance reform, energy policies, welfare, the war on terror,  or even gay marriage, all I get effectively are soundbites of impassioned, unsubstantiated bullshit.  Statements are made but never backed up with objective sources supporting their stand.  Granted, I don't expect everyone to carry an iPad with them everywhere they go with a browser full of links to their source material (although that would be awesome), but what would help discussions would be:

a) listening to opposing/alternative views
b) at least saying where they based their "own" opinions from a third-party who's not involved directly in the conversation.
c) listening to opposing/alternative views :)

I've started to avoid discussing politics with everyone now as a result of this.  My nature is to be pretty confrontational, i.e., I love to argue, but arguing things neither side can backup just make everyone angry and hateful and does no good to promote our friendship.

Technology has helped to take bickering up to a new level.  Now people can be anonymous while they rant and rave about how unfair life is without their beloved political party in power.   They feel emboldened to spread their ideas without having to suffer consequences of opposing in-your-face viewpoints.  With social networks, people feel that their opinions matter even more now because the can post their thoughts in one place and be viewed by many.   Go to and search for keywords such as "liberal", "conservative", "Obama", "Pelosi", or "terror".  You'll see all kinds of unfounded claims in ranging from ridiculous to racist.  What surprises me (for some reason) is the vitriolic nature of people's opinions - such hateful, mean things that they'd never say to someone's face.  With all of the noise people put out there into the "interether", it's just that - noise.  99.9% of these folks aren't really going to do anything about what they're complaining about.  It's easier to bitch about it and feel better by getting it off your chest than to run for office to change things.

From now on I will avoid speaking politics with people.  If you want to chat, rainbows and unicorns are still fair game (until you tell me they're extinct due to Obama's mismanagement of the BP oil spill :)) ).