Are polarization & extremism dooming the average man?

December 3, 2022

Why is this current extremism happening? Is it because society has told men that they are bad, toxic, and horrible? Or is it because people are confused in today’s world? The world has gotten so confusing, so people think they need to align with someone or something and fit neatly in a little box.

Where do men fit in a world that has become so extreme and polarizing? I am genuinely concerned for the men of today. As a man myself, I choose to do my best job, not follow the herd, and stay in the middle. I am choosing to be an individual and the best person I can be. Sometimes I will mess up. We all do, and it is okay.

Society seems to be getting increasingly polarized, especially in the US. The predominant problem with polarization is that people on each side do not respect the other’s opinions. Take it a step further – people with opposing views see others as rivals rather than those who simply have different ideas. Tolerance for the opposite view is zero, and common ground does not exist.

I am scared and concerned because so many people buy into this extreme mindset. I am concerned because many men are lost and need direction from positive male role models. Some men have lost the ability to think abstractly, critically, and objectively. So those extremist figures with large followings are not necessarily the positive male role models required to move our society in a positive direction. But they get the most attention and then create a larger divide, causing even more trouble. I do not know how we can fix that.

Conversely, polarization has often been positive in the long run for the US, although the transition period is always challenging. Think: the women’s suffrage movement and civil rights, where mass protests during these times got (a) women the right to vote, (b) civil rights, and (c) 18-year-old individuals the right to vote. But that positive path doesn’t seem to be happening currently with men.

The good news is that an invisible group lives quietly behind the scenes, unlike this vocal, visible group. Most of what the media/social media put out there is what sells. Extreme news and eye-catching happenings are what people gravitate toward. Think about it – a segment on all the lives TAKEN by guns will get more views than a segment on lives SAVED by guns.

The need for views, hits, and clicks drives some this polarization. Shocking topics create coveted views, hits, and clicks, although what is shocking will ultimately become accepted as the status quo. Therefore, the information that is presented by the media/social media must become even more shocking. Exaggerations turn into extremism where the media/social media is increasingly extreme, trying to keep viewers.

We are also seeing the influence of the Internet and mass communication. Debunking misinformation is easier than ever, and we are witnessing a transition period now with how information is spread. Older people do not fully grasp how fast information spreads and that keeping things quiet or swept under the rug is virtually impossible. The speed of information spread also helps to accelerate social changes while simultaneously allowing those on either end of the extreme to be heard. So, an illusion is created that everyone is either far on one side or the other. But the truth is that we are simply hearing from a loud majority.

In other words, extreme polarization is not necessarily accurate for the everyday person. The truth is there’s a gray area. The majority of us land somewhere in the middle. So, the tirades the media/social media puts out do not reflect a middle ground, and they continue to try to polarize the country.

That being said, work still needs to be done to make this world kinder and more understanding. And destructive and damaging voices need less attention, consideration, and credence. Differences make us beautiful and unique, and all of us deserve respect and kindness.

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