Monday, August 17, 2009

Binary Society

I was listening to a British radio show when one of the presenters made a joke about how a particular UK newspaper was currently trying to divide the world into things that cause cancer and things that prevent cancer.

That joke started me thinking and I believe it shows something that's been happening over the past ten years or so: We've become totally polarized on everything.

There's no degrees any more. Things are either awesome or terrible. If you want an example, go and find someone and ask them what they think of Obama as President. The response you get will either describe him as some sort of savior who is going to fix everything, or describe him as the worst thing that's ever happened to America.

I'm not joking. I read a two thousand word blog post where the writer seriously compared Obama to Hitler and how he was going to single-handedly destroy America and possibly the world. Bush, of course, was close to Godlike.

But obviously people are going to have strong feelings about our President, right? It's not fair to say we're polarized on everything.

Oh yeah? Go ask that same person what they think of Apple computers…or video games or socialized healthcare.

That's the problem in a nutshell. No one appears to have the brains anymore to look through all the marketing and propaganda and see the simple truth that should be obvious.

For example, go type 'Mac vs PC' into google and prepare to be amazed. You'd never guess that these almost religious icons those zealots are fighting over are just laptops. You'd think that by now someone would have said:

"You know, macs are really reliable and super user-friendly, but for that reliability and ease of use, you sacrifice the ability to upgrade and customize your own computer. It's basically a trade off."

It's not just that we've gone so binary on everything, It's that we're so passionate and polarized over things we know nothing about. For example, at a 'town hall' meeting to discuss socialized healthcare, one older gentleman stood up and exclaimed:

"Keep your government hands off my medicare!"

If you don't understand the sheer irony of that, let me spell it out for you. Medicare is basically government-funded, socialized healthcare for the elderly…which is basically like taking a bus to a rally to ban public transport.

I just don't understand this type of thinking.

Basically, I think things would be a lot better and run a lot more smoothly if everyone could just acknowledge that there's a middle ground. When you argue one idea against another in terms of its pros and cons you tend to come up with a third idea that's better than the first two.

Instead, we argue right and wrong, true and false, one and zero. My idea is the perfect solution and yours is the worst idea ever.

Then the idea that wins is never comes close to what it originally promised which just gives more ammo to the next guy that comes along.

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