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NY Times: Polarization is Dividing American Society, Not Just Politics

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posted on Jun, 16 2014 @ 10:42 PM
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I don't know about the bars y'all frequent, but here it's not acceptable to mention politics all too often. People realize how much hatred it tends to bring up, so just seem to stick to other channels, like pricking among like minds in private, or perhaps it's all wusses bickering online, or to their television set.

Used to be you could mention topics which was supposed to be for the public good, like politics. Not anymore. Doesn't that seem to indicate that we're actually fighting ourselves, not just as a society, but individually? As in, instead of seeing our own poo in this mess, we just pass on the buck? Project our shadow?

I see a lot of the points on both sides, and realize these issues are often evoking irrational fears that are simply a chance for us to lash out at a perceived evil, when in reality issues from both sides are often misrepresented, and not the whole picture. Politics is now synonymous with propaganda. It's as if we're fighting over issues that miss the point entirely. I imagine a predator waving candy at a kid to lure him in. Politics = Propaganda is just a means for the ruling predators to sling poo and get us interested to bash our chests at the sight of a perceived enemy. The real evil is our ignorance, and our inability to self-reflect.

It's just bonkers how self-deluded people are.




posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 02:00 PM
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a reply to: bigfatfurrytexan

Yep! Those bloody algorithms that many websites are using that basically caters what you see to your interests. I actually work pretty hard to maintain a nice rounded set of friends on my facebook in an attempt to counter the algorithm. Selective exposure is something that people are prone to anyways. Having algorithms that do it for you, however, takes away the freedom and opportunity to chose to view differing points of view. It also strongly feeds confirmation biases. And you bet, social media affects us.

Here's an article from the NY Times as well discussing an experiment done with facebook and voting: www.nytimes.com...


They determined that the message showing friends who had voted was directly responsible for 60,000 more votes nationwide and indirectly responsible for 280,000 that were spurred by friends of friends — what they called “social contagion” effect.


The "social contagion" popped out at me because I've long observed that people do affect each other emotionally throughout the day regardless of whether they know each or not. For example, a guy is having a bad day and pulls out, unthinking in front of another person, which prompts an angry response. That driver's day just took a turn for the worse. Same guy goes to a restaurant and snaps at his waiter. Well, now the waiter's day isn't that great either. Basically the guy becomes a vector for a bad day infection. We don't exist in bubbles but instead, like a subconscious "pay it forward", we exist in a world where what we pay forward goes without thought and can be good or bad like an emotional telephone game.

emotional contagion

Does it work with Facebook? I think it probably does as Facebook is really one gigantic echo chamber where everybody has an opinion but those opinions tend to align with the greater social opinion (we like to fit in and be accepted). Say something contradictory to that social opinion and it may feel like you're Ariadne playing with the dream in Cobb's noggin.



posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 02:03 PM
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maybe we'll break up into the likes of sunni and shia, American style, fighting for centuries against one another.



posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 02:20 PM
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a reply to: calstorm

Bingo.

Divide and conquer.

Social media is playing a giant role. Thanks to ATS this is obvious to me now.

An educated population is their enemy, and ignorant population bickering with each other is easy to manipulate and control without noticing all the foxes guarding the hen houses.



posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 02:42 PM
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originally posted by: jimmyx
maybe we'll break up into the likes of sunni and shia, American style, fighting for centuries against one another.


I really hope not. Expanding on BigFatFurryTexan's remarks, though, I'd say that there is a risk of division on multiple subjects. The few that I see some of the most rabid fighting about on facebook are:


  1. Generational differences
  2. Attitudes towards the poor and the wealthy (Class War)
  3. Intelligence
  4. Police


I've seen people talking about how we need to be beating our children because they are all (now murderous) spoiled brats. Photos snapped of the homeless with disgusted comments. Nasty commentaries about some person that they spotted somewhere who obviously (to me at least) was having it rough. The number of times I've seen people doing those dumb "only a genius can figure this out...are you a genius?" while consistently becoming so bull-headed in their views that they'd lose a friend as opposed to budging in position or "agreeing to disagree" is beyond counting. "Only friends who think like I do belong on my facebook" is the prevalent attitude. That's dumb.

Some days, when I look at my facebook feed, I see hate, hate, hate, hate, and more hate. I log off. I can't take it.

edit on 17/6/14 by WhiteAlice because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 03:53 PM
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originally posted by: WhiteAlice
"Only friends who think like I do belong on my facebook" is the prevalent attitude. That's dumb.
Some days, when I look at my facebook feed, I see hate, hate, hate, hate, and more hate. I log off. I can't take it.


This is a big part of the reason I terminated my facebook account. Well that plus I'm not really one who believes people care about where I had lunch and here's another "selfie". I can count on one hand the number of pictures I've taken of myself in my 49 years. Facebook is a place where the most important thing in the world is yourself and "friending" people who think (and I use the word "think" loosely) like you do. And I'm not directing that comment at you Alice - I'm agreeing with you.

TPTB have all but won. The few of us who can see through the bull fertilizer and realize that there has been no real change in American Government for decades (or longer) have become such an insignificant threat to them that they just marginalize us as loonies. Even the words "conspiracy theorist" have become synonymous with having a mental disorder. Question authority - you must be mentally handicapped. Question the yellow journalism pumped out on the MSM as dictated by TPTB - also crazy. Then add the BS spouters on both "sides" such as Rachel Maddow, Ariana Huffington, Chris Matthews, Anderson Cooper, Steve Colbert and Jon Stewart for the democrats and Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity for the republicans and you have a divided country ripe for conquering.

Saying that, I would have to disagree with the OP somewhat in that I believe that the polarization dividing America has it's roots in politics. Issues that should not be political (such as gay marriage, immigration, etc.) have become political. And you must agree with your party's stance or you're a RINO or a DINO.

Why can't this damned country come together and agree on the basics - put the government checkbook down when the country is overdrawn, for one, and who gives a damn what consenting adults do in the bedroom! Why can't we...

Sorry. I'm just ranting now. I don't mean to derail.



posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 06:56 PM
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a reply to: tallcool1

No need to apologize. Your response was flawless, perfect and I couldn't have said it better myself. In fact, the one part that you disagreed with me on is the polarization having its roots in politics. I did, in fact, say that very thing in another post on this thread but I've just said it for so long and so often that I was worried that I was starting to sound like a broken record. These type of issues are precisely the "unresolvable" issues that I mentioned previously and from what I see, they are used to permanently divide the two parties while, as many posters have stated here, doing whatever they want on the real issues.

In short form, I'm in absolute, total agreement with you and it's nice to actually have somebody see what I see for a change. I'm used to being marginalized, lol.

"Oh that Alice--she thinks way too much..."



PS. Kind of a long ps but was too inclined to add this bit, too: I LOVED the fact that you called out all of those op-ed commentators in a list. They actually do a great deal of the compartmentalizing in my book. They aren't trying to get anybody to "jump ship" to the other side of the debate because they frequently make barbed statements about those who have opinions supporting the opposite party. Their comments that frequently relegate the "other side" to being idiots are there to make their listeners feel smart listening to them--no more, no less.
edit on 17/6/14 by WhiteAlice because: added ps.

edit on 17/6/14 by WhiteAlice because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 08:16 PM
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a reply to: WhiteAlice

I noticed the group think mentality forming around MySpace, with friend hording, etc.

With Facebook, it became even more pronounced. Except friend hording isn't quite as rampant. Not like Twitter, which is far worse than MySpace ever was in the friend hording department.

I am not a fan of social media. I dipped my toes into it, and discovered it was people with boring mundane interest talking about those boring mundane interests non stop. Right down to toilet updates.

Itold my youngest son that if he wanted a study on maladaptive behaviors, FB was the place. Its like most people just have no concept of public image and self respect.



posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 09:32 PM
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a reply to: bigfatfurrytexan

Yeah. And facebook is for Girr-ulls anyway!

A fishing buddy of mine said that to me last week while we were hauling delicious bass out of the water, and I started seriously thinking about it. Do you have any way of knowing if there's a .... gender bias .... on social media?



posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 10:51 PM
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FOX News, Neocons, and the rise of hate and fear was something THANKFULLY at least half of the country could not get on board with. That is the division. FOX News played a big part as did the whole Neocon "fear the terrorist" agenda.

And with conservative politics especially (anti-science, anti-gay, anti-clean energy, extreme religious right, and pro military) makes the U.S. look stupid to the rest of the world. It's embarassing that so much of the country subscribes to such backwards ideology.

The media pretends that both sides have equally valid arguments... Conservatives just need to stop being such horrible people... The division will remain for as long as their ignorance remains...
edit on 17-6-2014 by spiritualzombie because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 11:15 PM
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In the past, issues that most agreed upon were those that affected all of us.

Jobs.
Employment.
Working conditions.
Foreign policy.

What many in the political arena desired was polarizing issues.

Minor issues became major issues.

Global warming.
Taxes.
Socialized healthcare.

The problem is that government (on all sides) has encroached into areas that government really had no business being in.

Childhood obesity. Really? There should be a government program for that? I'd like to find that in the Constitution!

Global warming? Again, really?

Taxes, socialized healthcare became issues when it evolved that there were @ 50% of the population NOT paying anything in taxes.

We used to be united.

It wasn't the people (we the people) that divided everyone.


It was the god-damned politicians!



posted on Jun, 18 2014 @ 10:42 AM
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originally posted by: spiritualzombie
FOX News, Neocons, and the rise of hate and fear was something THANKFULLY at least half of the country could not get on board with. That is the division. FOX News played a big part as did the whole Neocon "fear the terrorist" agenda.

And with conservative politics especially [examples deleted in the interest of brevity] makes the U.S. look stupid to the rest of the world.

... Conservatives just need to stop being such horrible people... The division will remain for as long as their ignorance remains...


Love it, love IT!

Are we on a "first date" with the rest of the world? Most of them eat caterpillars or wipe their butts with sand; does any adult really care about "world opinion"? Has it ever crossed your mind that it is sick and juvenile to crave the respect of other people---that respect is something they chose to give (or not). You cannot win them over, no matter how hard you want to; and they know that they have power as long as you crave their approval and they refuse to give it to you.

Do you think America will ever win Putin's Approval? What will we need to become to do that? Or maybe the approval Li Keqiang? (PRChina), or Kim Jung Un (North Korea) or maybe Hassan Rouhani's?

No, of course you didn't mean them. You meant Europe.

We are supposed to pine with unrequited love for Europe.

Europe doesn't give a rip about us. Nor should they. But they'd like to borrow our military when it comes to effing with their non-european neighbors. The US could earn their respect by bombing their non-EU foes, like Clinton did for them when he bombed Serbia back to the stone age.

They liked us then. For about a year.



posted on Jun, 18 2014 @ 10:58 AM
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a reply to: spiritualzombie

Well then it appears that you are blissfully indoctrinated. If you only point the finger at one "side", then you are part of the problem. Once you get past what the liberal media tells you to believe, you'll see that the problem is that both "sides" are polarizing the country with their finger pointing rhetoric. Obama has followed, and in many cases expanded, the policies of Bush Junior. The only "change" he provided was quadrupling the speed of the nosedive that Bush put the country into. And I would say the same to anyone who believes what the republicans tell them as well.

Again - if you follow either "side", you remain uninformed with your head happily buried in the sand.

We need to get back to the original idea of US government - where our "representatives" went to DC to vote FOR the wishes of their constituents, and then went back home to their real jobs on the farm or whatever...instead of them continually voting for more power to themselves OVER their constituents (as well as more money in their pockets and more power to the corporations that put them there).



posted on Jun, 18 2014 @ 03:41 PM
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a reply to: bigfatfurrytexan

Love the bit of advice for your son. Do you know why I'm still on facebook? It's because I'm studying my pool of friends and their behaviors on it, sad to say. Many of these people I have known for at least one decade and so that actually provides a basis for what their behaviors and attitudes were like before and what they are now. Additionally, it's watching what flows through that gigantic echo chamber. I've detected so much propaganda of one stripe or another flowing through it that I'm in a constant state of irritation.

The move towards more organizations, both public and private, having a "face" on facebook is just the obvious indicator of social media's actual power. It's actually quite the industry these days for marketing automation and PR. I don't just watch though. I do a whole lot of fact checking. I thought that I'd actually lose friends by doing this but I haven't. I've also point blank called them an echo chamber with no losses of friendships. I'm lucky, I guess.



posted on Jun, 18 2014 @ 03:52 PM
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a reply to: WhiteAlice

Imagine the control FB can give the right people?

There are countless videos online where someone is getting the hell beat out of them, and bystanders do nothing about it. Humans have a tendency to follow a "mob mentality" even if we don't want to. its how a man can assault multiple individuals without anyone stepping in to help. Or how a man can beat on his wife in public.

We all stand around waiting to see what the herd does. If 1 person springs to action, more will follow.

Now...imagine how powerful it makes you when you control herds on social media sites?



posted on Jun, 18 2014 @ 04:07 PM
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a reply to: bigfatfurrytexan

Absolutely. Human nature and the mob is actually one of my favorite, lifelong hobby studies. It makes sense that it would be my chief hobby because I am autistic. Being autistic makes me both an outsider looking in by nature and prone to systems thinking. If I struggle with understanding how others operate both individually and in mass, then it's kind of necessary for me to "get it'". So I've been doing just that my whole life. Watching people. Still sounds creepy but it isn't really. I'm just trying to understand.

That said, I do agree that people do tend towards mob or herd mentalities. It's hard to go against the flow when one's desire is to be accepted. I can totally relate to that as I'm almost always on the outside looking in. It's lonely and because I know it's lonely, I don't fault anyone for it really except when the herd they may be following is driving towards toxicity. That's where I draw a line.

I find that it's not so much the herds of people that are so interesting these days. I'm interested in the shepherds. A shepherd could be a musician, a politician, a powerful and charismatic CEO, or a well spoken pope. There's an interesting book on the subject called "Social Control" by Edward Alsworth Ross that discusses the groups that the shepherds reside in. It's available online so give it a read.



posted on Jun, 18 2014 @ 04:50 PM
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a reply to: beezzer

Yep and those conversations tend to be so twisted by rhetoric that they absolutely become those "unresolvable issues".

Let's take global warming for example. Is there a state interest in global warming? One could argue that yes, there is a state interest as an unhealthy environment will have numerous affects on the state in terms of the health of the population, food production, and economy. It is not without precedent that a state would have an interest in the environment. In 1852, the "Great Smog" in London occurred due to coal use that ended up with 4000 people dead and 100,000 ill within the city. What was the parliament's response? Legislation, of course, in an attempt to control the issue. That's justifiable.

However, what our politicians chose to bicker about in regards to the environment was, technically, a scientific projection that could be in error because it is a projection of the future and projections are rarely spot on in any field, even science. While our country has been constantly bickering about "global warming", other countries around the planet have been doing things to help improve their environments and energy technologies. They've progressed while we're moving at a snail's pace comparatively.

What else could they have chosen to bicker about that might have gained more traction? Air pollution as a number of cities within the US are basically having their own annual versions of the Great Smog of '52? Making sure that we aren't polluting the snot out of our water and aquatic food sources would've been another good one, especially post Deepwater Horizon. But no, they choose to bicker about the comparably weak and tenuous argument--global warming. It's so stupid that I cannot see how it can be anything but deliberate as it is what it is.

Would you believe that the individual who created the EPA was Richard Nixon, a Republican? It was Nixon who was behind the creation of Earth Day after he visited the Santa Barbara Oil Spill off the coast of California. It was also Nixon that proposed the formation of Medicaid for poor families with children. Now, Nixon isn't the most shining example of a president due to his scandals; however, outside of that, he would be an example of what a leading Republican looked like at the time (outside of his atrocious scandals--that, I'd argue, would be synonymous with being a politician in general regardless of aisle).

Today's brand of politician is primarily concerned about things that will never find any form of two party consensus (unless it's bad) and catchy soundbites for youtube. The state needs a well formed and clear interest to justify itself in its actions and many of those things they focus on, as you cited, are not necessarily justifiable state interests.



posted on Jun, 18 2014 @ 04:58 PM
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originally posted by: WhiteAlice


Today's brand of politician is primarily concerned about things that will never find any form of two party consensus (unless it's bad) and catchy soundbites for youtube. The state needs a well formed and clear interest to justify itself in its actions and many of those things they focus on, as you cited, are not necessarily justifiable state interests.



If we the (little filthy soiled) people can ever form a consensus, then we are going to have to agree on the big picture and save/shelve the secondary issues for another time.

The government is not all powerful.
The government is not all smart and knowing.

They (the government) has fooled too many into thinking that they know best.

They're called "public servants" for a reason.



posted on Jun, 18 2014 @ 07:38 PM
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a reply to: tallcool1

Not following either side. Just calling a spade a spade. The division hit a high with GWB, 9/11, Iraq lies, torture, and fear-mongering.

From what I have witnessed in the last 13 years, the only problem the right has with trashing the constitution is when a democrat is doing it. Otherwise, if it's a Republican president appointed by the Supreme Court, 9/11 attack on U.S. soil, an entire large scale war built on intentional lies, or BIG GOVERNMENT in the form of TSA, Homeland Security, Patriot Act, and warrantless wire taps--... Alll good, Bro!

The right has not earned the ground to stand on to complain. People on the left complaining about Obama is good. We have yet to find out if those on the right even have the ability to stay awake when a Republican is in office.



edit on 18-6-2014 by spiritualzombie because: (no reason given)

edit on 18-6-2014 by spiritualzombie because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 18 2014 @ 07:48 PM
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a reply to: tovenar

I'm saying level heads from all over the world look at conservative politics in the U.S. and they see utter stupidity... Anti-science, anti-healthcare, anti-gay, anti-environment, pro-military, always ready for war, always ready to give tax breaks to the rich, while screwing over the sick and the poor. I'm talking jaw-dropping stupidity. Where almost every stance is the dumb side. It's embarrassing.




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