Over the past twenty four hours I have spent time in two communities known for attracting extremist viewpoints; immigration reform and education. And I feel a bit demoralized by the level of discourse that I’m having in person.
I attended an event on Friday for an organization I’m excited about as I wrap my head around why the American immigration system is so broken. I wrongly labored under the assumption that our system was flawed and inefficient, but still had the occasional success story. Now I realize it’s a hopelessly broken set of incentives wrapped inside heavy emotional baggage.
I don’t think the average American can conceive of how bad it is until dealing with it personally. And it’s crushing our competitiveness as a country. In twenty years when our population continues to age we will regret not fixing it. It’s actually an existential problem for our country’s future.
But somehow the entire debate centers around comical battleground partisan issues where they argue for the least relatable shit. We will never find common ground if we leave it to the extremes on either side. We are letting a crucial issue get sidelined.
I experienced something similar on the education front as well. Families are arguing over truly crazy shit that you cannot imagine any same adult bringing to a classroom of children. But this manifests in small ways too. We fixate on the purist forms of educational pedagogy instead of being pragmatists about protecting our children’s sense of self.
I only bring this up because sometimes I assume that real life must be better than whatever discourse is happening online. That social media must be reflecting some unnatural tendencies we only see thanks to access. But alas I’m seeing these fights happen in person. In communities that know each other. But we are adopting some of the tenor and habits of “the discourse” with our neighbors. And that worries me a little.