I don’t often look at stats for my blog, but the last report I got had some dramatic results. While there is a pretty steady readership for Andy Unedited, two posts (here and here) had massive readership spikes. Why? Well, not surprisingly I suppose, they were picked up by a couple very popular bloggers who pointed their readers this way. But I think there is another reason as well.
These posts were a couple of my more opinionated offerings which might have had an appeal to readers similar to that of watching someone set themselves on fire. But they also play into the reality I’ve addressed before, “With a myriad of messages competing for our attention, the more extreme [a message] is, the more easily it stands out and grabs us.”
I try to make Andy Unedited entertaining, humorous, thought-provoking and brief. To do this I often aim to catch the attention of readers with an extreme statement, which I generally qualify a few sentences later–or in the comments when readers rightly challenge me on an immoderate remark.
Overall, I think it is a sad commentary on our society (and I suppose on my blog too) that measured, reasoned, thoughtful (and, yes, lengthy) debate has such difficulty making headway. Oh, it would be so much simpler if life were, well, simple–black and white. We long for clarity and certainty in the midst of sometimes mind-numbing complexity.
What’s to be done about the trend toward polarization, then? A generosity of spirit toward all, especially towards those we disagree with, is a good place to start. Not a lack of conviction but an abundance of compassion.
And spending time talking to and listening to those who are different than we are. This is an immense challenge since we are so comfortable being with people who dress, behave, talk and think like we do. Is it too extreme, however, to say that the future of the world depends on it?