Two things in the past 48 hours have caught my attention with regards to some elements of the social dysfunction that’s evident in today’s American society.
First was the Jan 19th edition of the controversial news piece "America First" where voters, who helped elect Trump as President were formed into a focus group by Frank Lutz, and began attacking each other over the issues they supported in casting their votes in 2016. Scientifically, I don't know the structure of this panel in terms of demographics, geography, or cultural backgrounds. They appeared to all be caucasian, and mostly baby boomers, so there was some cherry picking in place to support the agendized message being conveyed. Anecdotally, I see daily the same things this focus group uncovered, in that Americans quickly take sides with emotional vigor around nearly everything that matters most to the individuals. Lutz made multiple comments about the way these group members would verbally attack anyone in the group expressing a viewpoint differing from their own, and they continually supported his commentary by exhibiting the exact behaviors he was calling them out on. To make matters worse, after attacking their fellow group members for differing perspectives, these folks would make supporting statements using the most ridiculous gossip as facts fully supporting Dr. Sapolski's statement that Anthropologists suggest 3/4 of all human conversation is gossip, with the large majority being negative.
Secondly, the next controversial piece came via CBS Sunday Morning today, when their first segment was titled "A War of Words on College Campuses" where they discussed the alarming protests by college students over seemingly anything, that they felt to be controversial to their beliefs. Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute was met by a group of students, who turned their backs on him and chanted protest slogans over his book entitled "Bell Curve" suggesting race may play a part in IQ scores. The piece also cited other events on other campuses, where students protested speeches from people such as Condoleeza Rice, Bill Maher, Christine Lagarde, and actor/rapper Common simply because they didn't agree with either their message, or in Maher's case, jokes he made about Islam. "Trigger Warnings" and intellectual "Safe Spaces" are the buzz phrases being used by these hypersensitive collegians to support their emotional inability to even hear another perspective, let alone debate or consider it as valid. University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer went so far as to send out a letter stating:
"We do not support so-called 'trigger warnings,' we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own…"
The commonality between these two pieces and their content is the attitude of not entertaining any other opinions than their own. We have two distinct demographics at play in all of this, so age and station in life won't support this dysfunctional behaviors. Shouldn't we place a higher value on tolerance and diversity...just like in nature.