That’s where I am right now. At this very moment. If you want to come hang out with me, that’s where you need to go. At least for now. Go to another latitude and longitude and I won’t be there, no matter how much you think I will. I recently completed captain’s training and part of that required course plotting and navigation. We broke out old sailing charts, dividers and parallel rules and figured out how to plot a course. We set waypoints, dead reckoned, figured in tide changes, sea currents, magnetic deviations and how to calculate drift when we find ourselves off-course.
Because it helps to know where you are and where you’re going so you can adjust your heading to get back on course.
It got me thinking about something I’ve been teaching for years. You reach people where they are, not where you want them to be. It doesn’t matter how much you want it to be true. If there were a chart for human lives and truth, you’re off-course.
That’s a relevant discussion about the state of society and media right now. There’s constant chatter about divisions and plenty of memes and posts floating around social media about this group or that group. Folks get defensive and mad and start looking for reasons to pick a fight with a caricature of who they think someone is.
But the reality is most of the time that caricature isn’t really that person or the core of the group. They got the wrong latitude and longitude. They’re throwing rocks at the where they believe someone is, not where they actually are. And somebody else is lobbing rocks back over at where they think the first person is and missing too. I see this all the time, left and right alike. What makes it worse is some media outlet or politician bringing on the absolute worst example of a particular group and then standing back and saying, “See! They’re all like this! Aren’t you angry?!” And if you want to believe whatever is they’re peddling, your cognitive bias will kick in and you’ll lap that stuff up like a kitten drinking warm milk.
If we’re talking politics, look at rhetoric that surrounded congress freshmen Dan Crenshaw and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez . Lot’s of folks throwing rocks at the people they never were. Crenshaw seems to have weathered the storm, but AOC is getting it with both barrels these days. The reality is that they’re both well-qualified people who are dedicated to serving their country the best way they know how. Even if they come at it from different backgrounds and approaches. But, that might take nuance to get your head around and we currently don’t live in a media or political world that appreciates nuance.
Because, hey, rocks get clicks. Rocks get views. Rocks get votes. Hot emotions make you want to fire off at someone, drives up website engagement! It really doesn’t matter how many times people say to check your facts, most don’t. They just fling another stone and congratulate themselves when they hit the person they were never actually aiming for. The problem, of course, is that caricature lives on and the real person bleeds.