When polarization is used effectively it always defeats the rational middle. Why? Why do some films become blockbuster hits? Why do you cheer for one sports team over another? People love a good story. No, it’s more than that. People are a story they tell themselves. Of course they want to associate with a strong narrative when it’s offered; it reinforces their existence.
One person could observe a cup and say its half full. Another person could look at the same cup and say it’s half empty. Same reality, different framing. Both are framing what they see as they perceive it. Even if this example is trivial it highlights how much reality is open to interpretation.
Let’s say you knew nothing about abortion. Now let’s say you walked into a debate on abortion. You’d hear two strong narratives. One side will ask if you’re “pro-choice”. You reply “of course, I like choices. I want to be free to make my own decisions”. Then the opposing side asks if you’re “pro-life”. You reply, “of course, I like life. If given the choice to be born or not born I’d choose life”. These two movements are locked in a zero-sum game of their own design. To resolve this issue peacefully will require the rational middle.
Some movements don’t have a strong counter narrative like the #MeToo movement. This is likely a result of sexual harassment being widely condemned by modern society. These narratives spread faster with wider adoption rates. Unless you’re in China where the CCP actively represses #MeToo stories from spreading and labels sexual violence a Western civilization problem.
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