Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“I think people are more divided than at other times in my life. Granted, I’m only 43, so I haven’t had all the time in the world. Regardless of whether it’s worse or not, what is your opinion about what divides people?”

That’s a good question, right, Martin?

Marty: Yeah. I don’t know if we’re necessarily more divided right now, or that we have more clarity, or not clarity, I guess. But you see it more often, you have the exposure that you haven’t had before. And you know, the media in terms of the availability is a relatively new-ish thing in the last 20 years. So I think that, you know, a lot of it is potentiall due to that.

Mike: So you think people have more exposure?

Marty: Well and not even just to the people who, you know, necessarily don’t agree with each other, but like to the polarizing topics that they are now able to see more often.

Mike: So it’s like riding a wave and the red flag. And the social media algorithms, if you click on certain stories, doesn’t it start assuming you believe a certain thing and feed you that more?

So if that happens, then I’m going to get fed more of the stuff I “believe” which makes me more rigid.

Marty: And it reinforces your worldview. This is what must be right.

Mike: Yeah, I agree with what Marty said. I think what tends to divide us is that we are fed more of the nutrients about what we believe. So it sort of emboldens our righteousness. And then the second thing that divides us, I think, is a refusal to acknowledge that there are people different than us that are great human beings. There are people that see the world different, believe different, experience things different, all those things are different, and it’s OK. And I think the minute we lock ourselves into believing if you’re different than me, see the world differently, believe different things than me, that you’re wrong or you’re bad, dangerous, evil, whatever. Then it becomes a problem.

So as much of a cliche as it is, I think that whole live and let live thing, as long as nobody’s harming each other, you know, literally evil. We don’t give people the room anymore to be different than us, you know. We want them to be more like us and maybe it’d be easier for us, we think it probably would be easier for the rest of the world. I know in my case, it is a struggle for me, for people who come at me for believing different than them. That is where I struggle with being divisive because I’m like, why are you attacking me? I never said you did anything wrong, I just don’t agree with you. So there are two sides of it, right?

Be the person that you want others to be, not judging and that kind of thing. And then secondly, when they come at you, you’ve got to try to sort of respond empathetically or go, OK, well, that’s an interesting way to see it. I can think of a person right now who is my nemesis in this. He is coming at me all the time and so I just stop responding after a while, because you’re just not going to get somewhere. Some people, right? That’s where it’s going to go.

I hope that’s helpful, take care.

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