People are very good at tolerating those who agree with them on everything. Everyone knows everything these days because of the internet but no one knows anything these days because of the internet.
That sounds clever and pithy; it should be on a Hallmark card for cynics.
No one gets to be ignorant anymore. And we’re all responsible for our actions to a reasonably foreseeable degree, right? But now we have a reasonable chance to know EVERYONE. There was a really good chance that throughout most of history the sorta person who cares about pronoun choices never would’ve come across the sorta person who cares about the differences between Baptist and Southern Baptist. Today, those people are interacting 24/7. They both have the access to everything the other thinks and believes and so what responsibility do they have to learn it all? Must the religious person learn the nuance of gender identity? Must the Dartmouth grad appreciate the doctrinal differences between denominations? If they’re to interact with one another, they have some degree of responsibility to treat the other with respect. And part of that means learning what they consider to be respectful. But we’re all becoming SO individualistic that we’d have to spend all our time learning everything about everyone.
Once upon a time, if someone professed ignorance about you, you might excuse it in your head as an honest mistake. Today leaves no room for honest mistakes. Which is funny because we’re all also smarter and more educated than ever and thus equipped to better than ever sell our dishonesty. We speak in half-truths and think that focusing on someone’s rhetorical slip up makes us right. No one cares to talk to figure out what we have in common, or even where the other guy is coming from, it’s all to score points and win. To get likes. Retweets. Shares. A better Q rating. And this HAS happened forever, on some level, as man is a social animal, but this is crazy.
But maybe it’s only temporary. Maybe my generation sucks at dealing with this but a kid born yesterday will never know anything else and their brain will quickly adapt. They say that it’s easier for little kids to learn a new language; maybe the internet is a new language. Their brains will rewire and be fine with it. I struggle because I’m older. The difference becomes as pronounced as learning French at birth vs in your 40s. Even if you DO master it and become fluent, you’ll still always have had to work harder at it.
Or: we’re all fucking doomed.
Nah, we’re not. Every generation thinks they’re doomed and that this is the end, nothing will ever be this grave again, etc… but that never happens. The black plague comes and goes. Hitler rises and falls. And here we are: alive with iPhones. Which isn’t to say that this is natural, it isn’t. Humans work and fight for this, every day, till they bleed from their fingernails. But that’s just it: humans always fight. I’m not head in the clouds dopey optimist, I’m just a guy who has read the tea leaves of history enough to bet on the winning side. Humans are good at their core and that’s why the world keeps getting better. It just doesn’t seem that way until the end.
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