The demise of discourse

As a society, we suffer if we cannot speak with intelligence with one another. This republic was designed to work through our elected representatives at the state and national levels. The more informed we are regarding the issues, the better job we can do at electing those who can best serve our states and country. Of course, there will always be differing philosophies on how that can occur, and the discourse at one time was more civil and respectful.

Today (as in the example above from the 4/17/2017 edition of Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN), it’s common to see on television two or more people with differing opinions (in this case, Cooper, Robert Reich, and Jeffrey Lord) shouting one another down to submission with a lot of talking and little to no listening occurring. But, on all networks–not just CNN–ratings show that’s what people want to see today. After watching such spectacles, the general public gains no knowledge and society is not any more informed to participate in our government via elections to make our nation stronger.

Plus, it doesn’t help when a YouTube video is titled, “MUST SEE:  Anderson Cooper and Robert Reich DESTROY Jeffrey Lord over Trump Tax Return Defense.”  First of all, no they didn’t.  Second of all, that title is just trying to entice people to click on this video.

So, ultimately, while all of this arguing and noise is going on, everyone is digging in further to their own beliefs and opinions. Nobody is changing their minds or open to discuss ideas with others in a constructive fashion. All the while, additional opportunists are creating “fake news” that appeals to people in these self-constructed compartments.

Who’s to blame? We all are. News organizations focusing on ratings, people wanting to believe what they want and nothing else, politicians focusing more on getting re-elected than governing, everyone has shorter attention spans, and technology makes all of us a little lazier and desensitized in trying to disseminate what the truth really is.

The media, as it turns out, is just a reflection of the values we hold dear as a society.

So, have we reached the point of no return? What can we do about it? It’s possible that as a collective society we get tired of all this and decide on a different approach. For instance, we did change our national mindset on smoking in a relatively short period of time where the vast majority of Americans now believe it is unhealthy. Maybe America will figure out that this divisiveness, name calling, and hyperbole are things that are actually hurting our country. I believe that most everything self-corrects over the long term, but that doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily see any changes happen in our lifetimes. We’ll see if America wises up sooner or later.

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