What’s happened to us? We seem to live in a world where people can only deal with black and white, with extremes of view and opinion, and where anything requiring a level of dispassionate evaluation is increasingly rare. It’s almost like we’re headed for a collective frontal lobotomy.
Much of this, one suspects, is fuelled by social media, the vacuous sound bite and micro “celebrity” – you know the type, someone who once appeared on a reality television show, now fronts a “celebrity” reality series, and is miraculously considered by lazy editors and vacuous media planners to be an oracle on everything from Brexit and marital infidelity to fitness and fairy cakes.
And then there is the increasingly destructive and irresponsible take on life expounded by much of our media, tabloid and otherwise.
It seems as if some people (and who, worryingly, seem to be increasing in number) can’t – or are unwillingly to – deal with anything that doesn’t mirror image their views, likes and prejudices. There appears to be no place within many of these individuals’ blinkered thinking to actually think for themselves. How dangerous is that?
Take politics (I know, dangerous territory) for example. You’re either, according to many, a Guardian reading, quinoa eating, Tuscan-holidaying, bleeding heart liberal or you’re a nasty, smug, self-satisfied Tory. Is there really no centre ground position anymore that can be afforded respect?
Take the issue of immigration, religious radicalism and tolerance of views other than proffered by those who subscribe with holier than thou rhetoric to appeasement at every turn. Express a view that doesn’t exactly concur to theirs and you’re a mix of Josef Mengele, Caligula and Attila the Hun.
Take Brexit. If you voted “leave” you are, in the eyes of some remainers, nothing more than a bigoted racist. And if you were on the side of “remain”, certain folk on the other bench are convinced that, well let’s be honest, you’re happy just to be compliant to Brussels and bow to it in all its myriad shapes and forms.
Dear me! Have we really reached a point where we’re so blindly convinced our views and opinions are both cast in stone in their truth and that anyone who dares disagree doesn’t merely have a different opinion they are obviously some retched form of low life?
It seems some people are now finally waking up to the realisation of “fake news” and the huge damage it’s done. It is something, incidentally, I’ve seen in action for many years with certain newspapers happy to publish whatever narrative fits their agenda regardless of truth or accuracy.
Clearly, we now live in a world in which we need to be sceptical and where going beyond a headline is more vital than ever. It’s also a world in which, please, can we just accept that there are valid views different to our own and that life is, well, pretty grey.
And as Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”