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Friday Reflection - All about Tomatoes 25-3-2022

Have you ever heard the saying “You say toh-may-toe, I say toh-maa-toe?” Well, this phrase had me thinking about the state of the world when it comes to bias.

I recently read an article by Professor Robert Danisch, titled 7 ways to spot polarizing language — how to choose responsibly what to amplify online or in-person and it occurred to me that not much has changed from the world my parents lived in. If anything, it feels like the world has gotten more toxic when it comes to divisiveness. Many people, reading those words, might immediately point to lawlessness, sin, and even Biblical prophecy as the cause for this, but instead of kicking the ball down the road, I want to bring it a little closer home.

In my opinion, society has not become more toxic. It always was and always has been toxic. What has changed is how we communicate and share that toxicity. Now we can each take our particular brand of hate, toxicity and divisiveness onto the world wide web and easily find others who share that belief.

This does two things.

  1. It gets us stuck in a closed loop of hate where we feed off our like-minded haters and grow even more hate; and

  2. It amplifies our voices and then legitimizes our philosophy.

Professor Danisch speak about words having consequences, yet I cannot tell you how many loving, religious people I have encountered who spew hate at anyone who does not think or believe like they do. I wrote two articles about that. Why words matter to Black people and people of colour and Why is everyone so offended from others being offended. We’ve become so ingrained in our biases that we no longer have the tolerance for the person who pronounces the word differently from us. We just correct them and if they refuse to be corrected, we beat them over the head with it and bully them into submission.

How many people remember being on debate teams in school? I hated debating in school but grew to love it later in life - especially when I had to choose the side to argue for that I did not personally support. That was because in researching the topic I learned so much more about it that I could then see it from that “unfamiliar perspective.”

We don’t see that type of discourse in the public space anymore and we are the poorer for it. Instead, we hear people are spewing their hate rhetoric from the left and right without caring to understand, learn about or empathize with the other person’s point of view. Each person clamoring louder and louder, without rhyme or reason with the sole intent of stirring up more division.

Is it any wonder that many of the young people on social media sites like Tik-Tok just go on to spew mindless nonsense? They’re sick and tired of the political machinations they see the adults are up to and choose to revert to a simple child-like form of 20-second entertainment. This gives them millions of views which they parlay into millions of dollars, and suddenly we have a generation of extraordinarily rich, uninvolved, and uncaring people who have no interest in participating in civil discourse. This may prove to be our most formidable societal problem yet.

So, in the end is it toh-may-toe or toh-maa-toe?

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