Have you noticed the ‘Us & Them’ rhetoric from all different angles lately? The rhetoric is not new, but we are becoming more polarizing each day. This extreme polarization is fueled by three main things: Social Media, Keyboards, & Fear. Let me unpack what I mean and how these things are like petrol being poured on a fire.
Social Media is set up to get a reaction and keep our eyes on the screen. A complex computer algorithm has figured out the thing that keeps humans glued to a screen. which is often our outrage. We spend time on our phone looking at things the algorithm knows will keep our attention. Social Media is even where many of us will get our news reports, which are fixed to meet the algorithm we created. This means we often don’t hear from opposing opinions unless it is a click bait item which will spark outrage. This has stopped us from seeing the perspective of the other, keeping us entangled in our algorithm where we feel it is ‘Us & Them’.
Keyboards enable the fire set by the social media algorithm to grow faster. We can show easily pick the other apart when they remain an object. This allows us to speak to people by typing things on a keyboard we would never say in person. We become disconnected from the other, unable to see them as a person. Since there is no social interaction which creates a lack of social cues, there is a constant state of misunderstanding. A voice is created in our head about how the person sounded, and the social cues they are giving which often is not accurate. We stay brave behind our keyboards saying things and creating social cues for the other while dehumanizing them.
Fear keeps us in this place where we stay trapped behind our keyboard and create friendship groups that are presented to us by our social algorithm. What else are we to do but see the world becoming increasingly divisive, which allows our fear takes hold of us, telling us to stay away from the other. A narrative is created in our head where the other (those who don’t agree with us) are out to get us and lack the level of humanity we possess. Making us conclude that the only we can do is fear them because they will hurt, attack, and potentially show us there is more to the narrative developed inside our heads.
Our society is facing an out-of-control forest fire where we are attempting to create a world where it is ‘Us & Them.’ Pushing rhetoric and narratives that enable us to dehumanize someone who thinks differently. I believe as followers of Christ it is time to do the work in putting out this forest fire because there is no ‘Us & Them‘, there is JUST US. We are all humans created with a divine spark, and Genesis 1:27 makes that clear,
“So God created man*Hebrew word here includes both men and women* in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – ESV
As Christians let’s show the world there is only JUST US by stepping out of comfort zones. Building relationships with the others who think differently to us and having face to face conversations while enjoying a meal, coffee, beer, or wine together. Hearing the heart of others without attempting to tell them how they are wrong. Creating an atmosphere where we can share our opinions without judgement and persecution because we are all humans doing the best we can on this planet. Always remembering that,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 ESV
by Pastor Matt George