I just finished watching 'Best of Enemies', and the ending was quite grand. Grand in the sense of scope, sad conclusion, and explanation of the current political debate landscape.
The movie talked about an early political debate (in 1968) that pitted two extremely different intellectuals against one another on TV. However, TV was quite different back then. It was limited, and it was possibly more powerful than it is today. It had weight. It had definitive purpose. Sure it had it's corny flying nun shows, but it also had tens of millions of people watching any one thing. It was early in its technology, and it was (alike the ending of the documentary) impactful.
The thoughts lying around in my head afterwards are about connecting.
The very end of the film talks about how removed we are from each other. When you have a myriad of opinions all being presented on thousands of channels (or online) you can have seclusionary experiences. Walled gardens of YouTube, homepages, and google alerts. You have sectioned off Facebook feeds that are dictated to you by a company's algorithm. Thoughts and opinions of all kinds, but being delivered to you through your very own internet-made filter. We create our own miniature worlds online. How does this affect our coming together on issues?
I do know one thing. We can't seem to come together on much, and when we do it's still at our leisure. We agree with likes and anonymous commenting, but are any of these rallying cries from a great contingent of people in this country? Or are they more likely added options for debate. Added confusion to an deeper truth. A deeper problem.
Now at times this power on online communities is immense. We collectively come together over acts of injustice, and share police brutality, bullying, and other videos showcasing the wrongs of the world. We make things that need to be seen or dealt with go viral. We spread the world's events, and we aim to make a difference.
And we do. This isn't a debbie downer story. But what are we missing?
To go back to the earlier point of political debates I think we're missing each other. I think talking to talk (and to have great ratings or web traffic) has moved us further away from each other. How do we have a true debate anymore? It seems that most debating (like John Stewart so aptly pointed out) nowadays is simply theater. If you then multiply those political plays by a hundred or a thousand you get a very divided country. A very confusing landscape, and a very un-unified world view.
So how do we find each other? Is it through the internet, and the sharing of Upworthy articles? I think real change can happen here (online), but I wonder how many people we can get to agree on any one thing in this already splintered cultural landscape.
Here's an example.
If you post something of any cultural or politically charged debate on your Facebook page you will inevitably get a multitude of responses. A lot of them will be emotionally charged. A lot of them will be surprising. Some will be insightful, and many will most likely be hurtful. But will there be a general consensus? I'm guessing not.
I'm guessing no real debate will occur (*if it does i'd love to see the conversation..could you send me the link?). So that's where the discussion starts. That's where my question begins.
How do we find each other and bring together a collective voice? Non splintered and powerful with the ability to shape our nation in the way we see it should be shaped.
Or do we even need such a voice anymore? Is the time and era of large scale consensus dead, and to counter point my own point. Should it be?