Tiny Bubbles No More

Written by Robert Warden

robertNo, I am not referring to a song by Don Ho. Perhaps the most striking thing about this nightmarish election season is how fractured liberals became. It is natural for people to be drawn to those who think like them, but in a diverse society — a particularly diverse subset of of a diverse society — this tends to result in people banding into relatively small groups, or cliques of like-minded individuals. These become peoples’ social networking bubbles. There are bubbles of various kinds in the social media, including, shall I say, bowls of nuts of a particular brand. But what has hurt the progressive cause is the fracturing of progressives into competing groups.

I have seen “Hillary people” complain bitterly about “Bernie people” and vice versa. I have seen Stein people complain bitterly about both Hillary and Bernie people, and Bernie or Busters who refused to support Hillary Clinton after the nomination, even though Bernie Sanders himself supported her. I have seen “Hillary people” complain about “Stein people,” and call Stein a “vanity candidate,” and “Stein people” calling both major parties “two sides of the same coin,” et cetera. And of course, liberals and conservatives cannot get along. That goes without saying.

One thing that all this makes me wonder, is if a large percentage of the population cannot support someone without vilifying the opponent. Also, why are people so often more critical of the person just to the right or left (on the political spectrum), than the person who is way over there to the right, such as the Republican candidates? It seems to me that this has much to do with tribalism, competition and the formation of group prejudice, as I have studied as a social psychologist. We must avoid falling into this trap. The corporate oligarchy must be happy to see progressives divide and conquer themselves. That is just what they want.

Tolerance is a characteristic of open-minded, liberal thinking, yet, tolerance quickly gets thrown out the window when people divide into competing factions. Thus, social bubbles form. I have tried very hard personally to avoid this, both in my group and in personal relations, but I must admit, it is difficult sometimes. I don’t unfriend many people, but I have a few lately, for specific reasons, and of course, they were people whose views are discrepant in some way from my own which caused me to have problems with them. But it was more for dishonesty that I unfriended them, than for their views. Strangely, I saw the name of one of the few people I had previously unfriended, again today, although I had not seen his name in about 2-3 years, since I unfriended him. I am fairly certain that it is the same person. He was urging people to do something about the Standing Rock situation. Ironically, the reason that I unfriended him was because he was essentially telling people to do nothing at the time, as in avoiding any political involvement. What I saw today gives me hope that perhaps he has learned something since then and changed his views. When I unfriended him, appropriate to today’s topic, I told him that he would probably wind up with only like minded people as friends, with his attitude. He is not a member of my group, but it appears that something that he wrote about Standing Rock was shared, including to my group.

I believe we can and must unite as progressives and learn to tolerate, if not completely overcome, our differences. The important thing is that we are on the same team. There is no time like the present to start planning and joining forces. If we wait for the “right time,” in fact, I am afraid that will never happen. But I already can see progressives starting to come together, which is encouraging. We are intelligent enough, talented enough, and interested enough in promoting the greater good, to create a wonderful plan for our future, so let’s not let anything get in the way of us doing so. If ever we should find ourselves in separate little social bubbles, let the bubbles burst and join a wide open progressive movement.