How Do We Come Together?

In our current society, there are a number of factors that have divided us into different camps. How do we reverse that and come together?

There are many reasons why we look at our fellow human beings with increased distrust.

Politicians use fear and distrust of others to motive their constituents. When news outlets promote conflict, they are rewarded with increased viewership, more clicks, or a higher circulation. As more families fall into or toward poverty, they fight desperately for livelihoods.

And yet, most significant advancements have been made when we work together as a society. Advancing life spans, reduction of widespread disease, better understanding of the world around us — these things are all made possible through cooperation.

It’s not realistic to expect that everyone will agree on all, or even most, issues. But how can we disagree, yet still make progress?

Can we somehow look at our economic, political, religious rivals and somehow see our similarities rather than our differences? How do we come together after being driven so far apart? Particularly when physically coming together is limited due to the global pandemic?

Related questions: Why are we so antagonistic? How can we encourage debate? How do you know who to trust? Is our attention fractured? Division or unity?

Why Are We So Antagonistic?

In America, tensions are running high. Neighbors, family members, even communities are clashing. Why are we so antagonistic toward each other?

There is no shortage of ways to separate people. For example, the political divide is larger than it has been in a generation. Economic inequality is at record levels. Rural and urban areas are at odds with each other.

Why is there so much tension?

It’s true that thanks to the Internet, people are able to seek out ideas similar to their own. Social media can act as an echo chamber, and algorithms can limit exposure to competing ideas.

Similarly, cable news has spawned a news channel for every political outlook. Talking heads with an agenda help shape public opinion.

There is also what is known as “self-selection”. When deciding where to live, people will often choose a neighborhood filled with people who look like them, vote like them, and pray like them.

Gerrymandering, or the political act of grouping conservative or liberal voters in a district has led to candidates that are more ideologically extreme.

There also seems to be just a general lack of civility. People arguing are quick to insult, or to simply disengage altogether.

What is the cause of our polarized environment? Is it one of these explanations, or something else entirely? Why are we so antagonistic?

Related questions: How can we encourage debate? How do you know who to trust? Angry or afraid? What makes a community?