The world is increasingly full of negative noise. Very briefly, here’s why: it costs the self less to be angry and hostile than to be generous and welcoming. (I’m going to add this corollary: in the short term. Anything can be declared effective, if the duration it is examined is brief enough.)
When people crash against ideals and ideologies that they don’t immediately align with (or understand), they usually react with fear (self-preservation), which means they get noisy and negative.
The more angry, belligerent and insistent an agenda gets, the more radicalised its pushback.
Multiply this phenomenon by all of the individual issues in the world, and stir in the fact that there is no coherent way to package them. (Our political, social, religious, etc. labels cannot do a fraction of the work we expect of them!)
And that in itself is a large part of the problem.
People occupy different positions on every issue’s spectrum simultaneously. There is no monolithic archetype that we can appeal to when trying to identify ourselves (let alone others, who we’re not nearly as familiar with!). But that doesn’t stop countless numbers of people from trying — from applying a label to themselves (or others) and imagining that the case is thus closed.
But doesn’t it get tricky when those self-attached labels bump into each other, especially if a person finds that she accepts some views which oppose the majority of her label-mates?
In general, the tone of the world’s media has become emotionally toxic. I believe this is merely a developmental phase, kind of like a planetary prepubescent petulance. (I may have to change my tune, I suppose, if we don’t survive it…then again, not every individual survives adolescence, either.) There is a way out of all this, but we’d be jumping the gun it we try to solve this matrix of problems without understanding it. So, uncomfortable as it may be, we need to examine the darkness.
Here, I’m going to use the word anxiety the way psychologists do: the strange toxic soup of emotions: fear, hatred, mistrust, disgust, jealousy, etc., etc. — I’m not going to play the foolish game of guessing which apply in which cases. (Though it does seem to be a popular pastime…) They often work in teams!
Anxiety is a contagious cycle that perpetuates polarisation, and that leads either to war in an effort to subsume, or to radical disengagement to enforce segregation. The problem is, neither of those is even possible in an inter-connected world.
This bring us to what may be the wildest, woolliest issue of our time — perhaps of all time!