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The polarization of ATS

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posted on Mar, 28 2010 @ 10:44 PM
Mods: If there is a better place for this thread, please by all means move it there.

Now, we all know that every Internet messageboard is home to a clatch of crusty posters who spend time croaking about how "the board was better back in the old days." The definition of "the old days" can vary from a week ago to a month ago to a year ago to ten years ago and so on. Any board with more than a handful of posters that has been open more than a week or so starts collecting these kinds of posts like barnacles.

It's not my intention to make one of those posts...but I guess here I am doing so. However, the fact that I'm aware of this tendency and making this thread anyway hopefully demonstrates that I think the board is facing a serious problem.

The problem is, as I see it, a devolution from complexity to simplicity. From nuance to rigid, cartoonish extremes. There are two areas where this can be seen most strongly: 1) Religion and 2) Politics. Increasingly, the arguments are all the same. Round and round and round we go. People can't, it seems, approach these topics in a thoughtful way without immediately being pigeonholed as a member of one "side" or another of a wooden dichotomy. Following which they are howled at by the members of the "opposing team."

It's like going out for a stroll and finding yourself dragooned against your will into a rough-and-tumble game of rugby. Now, there's nothing wrong with rugby per se, but sometimes a quiet stroll is all you want. There used to be lots of grassy conceptual medows to meander through; increasingly they are being paved over and made into rugby fields it seems.

Also, the political and religious topics are proliferating to the point where if you look at the "recent posts" thread, as many as 8 or 9 of the most recent posts are likely to be in these areas.

Now, I'm quite familar with all the responses that could be made to this: "So what, ignore them" or "start your own threads on other topics if you don't like it." These are valid counterarguments. And of course people are free to post whatever they like; it's really none of my business. All I am doing is mourning the loss of community drive in different directions. I can see the energy of this board becoming less well-balanced and diverted into the endless, tired, circular arguments that are so full of sound and thunder yet for all that so...utterly...boring.

"Political madness" was created to quarantine this sort of thing but its spilling over everywhere now...all you have to do is mention any one of several dozen "hot button" words or phrases and suddenly you find yourself in the midst of a rugby scrum, tackeled on all sides.

This is not a criticism of the mods or managment (who continue to do an excellent job as always). Its simply a sad lament of the changing tenor of the community. Does anyone else see things the way I do?

posted on Mar, 28 2010 @ 11:06 PM
you had me at Religion and Politics.

no party affiliation nor ensconced belief here, either.

yet, those two "words" are most likely the two Most immediately decisive and divisive mentions one could utter ... with polarization commencing upon the very mention of either.

They're also probably two of the "grayest of areas" depending upon one's world or spiritual view, as well.

transpose the two terms with crunchy or creamy peanut butter and you're good to go ... toss in a few apples, bread, bananas and celery sticks - you're golden.

religion and politics - those are fighting words.

posted on Mar, 28 2010 @ 11:39 PM
my take is ats is made of humans. humans have egos.

the internet, by way of anonymity, encourages confrontation, less observable in the real world.

ats is on the internet.

Δ we have ego-driven confrontation on ats.

on the one hand, i am sometimes amongst the guilty. on the other hand, i am sometimes amongst the frustrated, much like the op (would like to point out, though, that i got a u2u the other day from someone completely opposed to my beliefs - and i kinda said so - who called me out for being thoughtful and non-confrontational!)

i'm a sensitive guy. no one wants to be inundated with opposing views. it can be unpleasant to be in the minority sometimes. i know, i usually am. and it can get unpleasant dealing with zealots. ats ,if nothing else, can assist in the self-construction of a thicker skin.

please rest assured, your opinion is valued by someone. the endless melee of political/religious confrontation isn't going anywhere. it's always been and always will be. if we want to participate in forums, which by their nature, are "open to the public," we have to decide to take the bad with the good and it's incumbent on us to realize that's a bitter pill. but someone, somewhere is relying on you to make their point, to provide them with that concept that "someone agrees with me," or to give them an idea they hadn't considered. trust in that and try, hard as it is, to let the rest slide off.

[edit on 3/28/2010 by Hadrian] freakin' emoticons are uncooperative

[edit on 3/28/2010 by Hadrian]

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 12:26 AM
Thanks for your input, both of you.

To Hadrian, I know these issues are timeless; its just my sense that in comparison with the last 5 years or so (I used to lurk before I registered), the tenor of conversation on these topics is becoming more shrill and simplistic. It's particularly disturbing to see on ATS, which I always saw as a more nuanced, thoughtful place than most sites that take up these topics. Anyone can stake out a position in a trench and howl. To tiptoe though the minefield, on the other hand, takes grace and finesse.

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 12:37 AM
In politics, as in religion - both sides are wrong, and the idea that there are only two sides has long been a tactic to control society.

The proliferation of these threads simply shows a lack of sophistication, and inability to see beyond a persons own structures and realize their own 'views' - are generally the product of both careful programming by the social controllers, and also their own environment - generally by familial traditions.

People for some reason think that they can 'turn' people to their own side, rather than realizing the other 'side' is just as fully brainwashed and zealous as they are - never mind, ode to the passing of critical thought - onwards to the intellectual wastelands ..

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 01:11 AM
Bipolar Shift

Originally posted by silent thunder
This is not a criticism of the mods or managment (who continue to do an excellent job as always).

Hey, you're quite welcome to criticize us, even though we're absolutely perfect in every way and never make mistakes.

As for polarization, I'm happy to say I don't have that problem. It's just those other people who don't agree with me who are the problem.

If we got rid of them, everything would be fine.

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 01:30 AM
Originally, I began browsing ATS paranormal and related boards

Over time, I read some of the political and religious threads and was struck by the 'sports politics' approach. For that's how it appeared to me -- as if people approached politics in the same way as they supported sports teams -- fanatically, in many instances

I most probably shouldn't admit this, because ATS encourages political debate, but for whatever reason, I'd never been very interested in politics. So maybe that explains why the 'my (political)team is better than your team' mentality leapt out from the ATS pages

As I see it now, ATS and most other fora are being used to 'sell' political teams, as they're also utilized to sway people from political brands. 'Forming and shaping opinion' is how I've heard it expressed

My online personality has changed a great deal since I first began posting online several years ago. Not for the better, I might add

A certain stridency, a combatativeness, seems a requirement in face of what are often professionally-scripted based political posts in online fora

There are many who post for pay, or who're members of organisations who utilize online fora to 'win hearts and minds' at the same time as they ruthlessly work to destroy the opposition

Subtle and/or ambivalent comments sink like stones in such an environment, quite often

People are influenced by what they read in a forum. People tend also to create forum-giants, to grant certain posters 'guru' and 'expert' status and to grant them largely unquestioned credibility

The mass media operates on this belief and it used to be (may still be the case) that a 'well respected' newspaper could make or break a political candidate -- could determine the 'winner' of an election. TV also

Internet news sources and political commentary have replaced print and tv to a large degree and now the war for hearts and minds is being fought in online fora

The more sensitive, introspective and moderate posters are thrust to the wall as practised forum-gladiators battle it out to the steady thrum-thrum of repeated, deliberate and calculated themes i.e., 'Dems Bad', 'Reps Good', 'Obama the Messiah/Anti-Christ --- phrased in a variety of contexts

It's a battle zone. The stakes are high. Money rides on the outcome and is invested in the online forum battlegrounds

Just as ancient Rome had it's favourite gladiators, so do forums create favourites. They have easily recognised avatars. They take the time to develop forum networks. They have solid blue bars alongside their posts, indicating they're to be regarded with respect ... are popular ... are credible, etc. What they write/say carries substantial weight. They're a valuable asset in the right hands. And they can rally a dedicated support-group in minutes, posting in blocks, to discredit opposition

This can foster a brittle, defensive, competitive and strident forum environment, where 'enemies' seek to avenge and destroy across thread boundaries and where the most sensational or challenging thread-title grabs the attention. In a way, it's a bit like verbal-gaming

Things change, yes. Five years ago, I was luking on ATS. ATS has changed and so have I

S & F to the OP

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 01:32 AM
Well a good thread op.

A small suggestion called free advice. (you get what you pay for)

What are the actual areas of polarizing...

Israels interactions
Psychics vs skeptics

any others....

Points of disagreement are wise to establish then you can find common ground to discuss disagreements.

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 01:57 AM
Quote from Hadrian

"please rest assured, your opinion is valued by someone. the endless melee of political/religious confrontation isn't going anywhere. it's always been and always will be. if we want to participate in forums, which by their nature, are "open to the public," we have to decide to take the bad with the good and it's incumbent on us to realize that's a bitter pill. but someone, somewhere is relying on you to make their point, to provide them with that concept that "someone agrees with me," or to give them an idea they hadn't considered. trust in that and try, hard as it is, to let the rest slide off."

I could not in a million years have said it better (thank you!). I mostly "lurk" and when I come across those things you were talking about Silent Thunder I always hope someone would be able to voice my opinion too. The "Ignore" button is nice... but lately it seems I would then be missing half the thread! And sometimes, once I wade thru whatever propoganda the poster is spouting, they MAY have a point, if you squint
They just manage to put it in a manner that guarantees an offended reaction.


posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 02:22 AM

Originally posted by silent thunder 1) Religion and 2) Politics. Increasingly, the arguments are all the same. Round and round and round we go.

Hey Thunder, you left out sex !

It is supposed to be:

Sex, religion and politics that are guaranteed to get people's blood rising.

Without a good old fashioned bun fight between the queers and the straights, where is your sense of fun and brinkmanship.

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 07:27 AM
The big issue in this subject is the need to separate opinion from fact.

The internet is home to both, and unfortunately a lot of people can't distinguish between the two, and that is what leads to divides.

For instance - and its a heavy topic - 9/11 truth is based on opinion.

Yep, I said it.

Up until the events of Sept 11th 2001 no one had deliberately flown two jet liners into the twin towers, and one into the pentagon.

That makes 9/11 the rule and not the exception. An awful lot of people forget that, and treat their version of it like gospel when actually no one knows for sure. 9/11 truth is a series of educated guesses, but simply put its not fact.

The problem is it is presented as fact. That is what causes a lot of friction. Its the same with every other topic from UFO's through to religion through to politics - things get presented as being cut and dried when they clearly are not.

And thats where the polarisation comes from.

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 07:58 AM
reply to post by silent thunder

Excellent OP Silent Thunder

I agree... and have thought about this myself... I believe that it could be to do with the increased popularity of ATS. When ATS first started it was a great place for people with alternative views and consisted of the more hardcore conspiracy theorists... most people wanted ATS to become popular so that their message could reach i wider audiance. However, the side effect of this popularity is an increase in the sort of mindset that i came to ATS to escape from LOL

Having said that... i think everyone is guilty of what you describe... we all think that our own particular view point is correct otherwise... well... we wouldn’t think it would we!! Therefore, it is easy to get caught up in the heat of an argument and start accusing people of being that which you despise. It is so easy to become entrenched and polarised!

Unfortunately polarisation seems to be an infectious disease... the more we entrench ourselves, in our opinions, and the more we shout down the opposition... the more they become entrenched and cover their ears...

I have had disagreements with people in the past where i have not conducted myself in an appropriate manner... but i have found that, after an apology and after actually listening to what they are saying, they often realise that my opinion is also worth listening to!! And this is when the real dialog and intelligent discussions begin!!!

The lesson i have learnt is to listen and to try to speak with softness and understanding... even when i don’t agree!

However... i still slip up every now and then and there are some topics/viewpoints that are simply my Achilles heal

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 08:24 AM
Entropy; One of the ideas involved in the concept of entropy is that nature tends from order to disorder in isolated systems.

this applies to social sites, information exchange forums too
ATS may not appear to be a 'closed system', but the avg poster's
numbers are swamping the system and modifying what is considered
'Benchmark' posts/threads/replies/information exchange....

it's still better than an Ivory Tower, imho

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 08:51 AM
The more things change...

It's ebb and flow. Pendulum swings. Same as it ever was.
And stuff.

Disagreement is the seed and fuel of discussion. We encourage the exchange, as long as it's on-topic and civil.

The best thing any member can do is seek out the threads (or start threads
) that are interesting and have value (for you), and participate in them in a T&C compliant fashion.

The second best thing is to avoid the threads which you see as a valueless waste of time.

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 09:58 AM
For some of us (me) religion and politics are our favorite subjects.
The challenge is to get in there and BECOME that which you wish to see. I believe people have firm beliefs in these areas, but the challenge is to keep my position, while respecting and understanding and validating those with whom I disagree. THAT brings about the higher level of discussion which I think you're mourning.

If all you want is a quiet stroll, go in that thread, spread your Zen, listen to others and don't allow yourself to be pulled into a game of Rugby. You really do have a choice. I do it all the time in these particular subjects. Not always, I'll admit, but when it happens, I end up having some of the most educational and thought-provoking discussions. You cannot get dragged into a discussion "against your will". Don't let others' behavior determine yours. That's the goal. (I know you probably didn't want to hear that. Sorry.
) But even if only 10% of us are able to, most of the time, rise above the simplicity (and believe me, I know what you're talking about) we'll have some GREAT discussions.

The community changes constantly. You've gotta admit, these are political and religious times! Those two subjects are hotter than ever. They're what's on people's minds. So, ATS is right on top of that.

Like yeahright said. Ebb and flow... Go with the flow.
And bring on the Zen.
Those are my clichés for the day.

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 10:21 AM
Plus ce change, plus ce meme chose...

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

ATS has always had polarizing topics... Just some of the time, we notice them...

Politics. Religion. Sex. Even BTS topics like music, books, friendly chitchat can, and has, got heated forcing mods. to step in.

Where ever humans interact, there's going to be differing opinions. That's just the nature of the beast. We're contrary. We're opinionated. ...and we have keyboards, and we're not afraid to use 'em.

There's really nothing that can be done, nor should we, to lessen the "conflict" practice civility. Be as heated as you want, just be topic centric and we'll all have fun, and maybe learn something.

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 10:25 AM
reply to post by Benevolent Heretic

For some of us (me) religion and politics are our favorite subjects.

Really? Never would have guessed...
. ...and we've had some hummdingers over the past few years, too...


posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 02:42 PM
Religion and Politics are my favourite subject matters. Especially when it comes to seperating the two.

Convictions create divisions.

Blind convictions propound stupidity.

Therefore, convictions are mostly divisive stupidity.

Hence why so much of Religion and Politics consist of the above.


posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 06:01 PM
could solve the entire problem by posting a warning thread about stereotyping, which is the crux of the entire problem. observe:

1. ufologist posts a thread about a ufo sighting. enter skeptic. skeptic makes sure to call the ufologist an idiot, lacking in logic, naive, and so on. ufologist accuses skeptic of being a government disinfo agent. rinse wash repeat.

2. atheist posts a thread about how christians tick him off, jam packed with stereotypes, most of them from the dark ages. enter christian, who returns the favor, albeit a bit more current.

3. conservative posts a thread about liberal so-and-so. enter the liberal who auto assumes the conservative has no heart, no head, and is incapable of thinking. conservative returns the favor. bush=hitler. obama=stalin.

4. "open-minded person" posts a thread about the lack of open-mindedness in people who have opinions and proceeds to give her own opinion not noticing she's giving an opinion and stereotyping the heck out of just about everyone on the planet.

i will do my part to stop stereotyping others, if i catch myself engaging in it.
more preciseness when it comes to describing your position and how you view the position of the other person wiould help immensely. generalizations tend to just irritate everybody.

posted on Mar, 29 2010 @ 06:09 PM

Originally posted by seagull
...and we've had some hummdingers over the past few years, too...

Yes, and we're still in love.
We ARE still in love, aren't we?

Originally posted by undo
could solve the entire problem by posting a warning thread about stereotyping, which is the crux of the entire problem.

I'm afraid a warning against stereotyping would not prevent it. It would just make more work for the mods. Besides, one of the things I LOVE about ATS is the fact that we can state our opinions, no matter how ignorant they are, as long as we don't violate the T&C.

What we CAN do, as you've suggested in your last paragraph, is to pay close attention to the preciseness of our own communications. And I'm all for that as a choice for members to make, but not as a mandate to be enforced.

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