Reaching across the divides

I need to remember to reach across the divides that exist between myself and others as often as possible, paying attention to the important things and ignoring the little differences being used to keep us apart.

I’m on Facebook and other social mediums, and because I despise most extremist forms of expression, it’s easy for me to find myself separated from others based on politics, for example. It’s not that people necessarily hold nothing but extreme beliefs, politically, it’s that Facebook and other social media tend to exaggerate expressions, such that the ones that get propagated are more extreme than the ones that you see more rarely.

It’s the dopamine rush, you know? It’s a lot easier to like and share “Donald Trump is pure evil!11!1” than it is to share that you think Donald Trump could have done something more elegantly, or that you don’t understand why he didn’t… do something else. The extreme form gets more reactions, which feeds the dopamine addiction, which means you now have a feedback loop that encourages more extremist memes, in tone and in number, and so the cycle continues.

I hate that crap. I am guilty of it myself, to be sure, but I try to restrain myself because it’s such an awful way to portray yourself to others, and it’s awful to see.

But… you know, the thing is, the people who end up looking like political wackos are human, too. Regardless of their affection for dopamine, they have real needs that transcend reaction.

I need to remember that it’s okay to say “Happy Birthday” to someone who looks like they occupy the far right. I need to remember to offer condolences when someone on the far left suffers a loss in their family.

Their position on the political spectrum – even if it’s not exaggerated – has no bearing on whether they’re human or not, and thus has no bearing on whether I should reach out to them.

I should.