People, We Need to Dial Down the Rhetoric!

People we need to tone it down. I’ve been on social networks now for a fair number of years. I listen to radio, watch TV and read news. And barely a day goes by without, someone, somewhere, expressing their ‘extreme outrage’, or finding something/someone ‘deeply offensive’, ‘enormously hurtful’, ‘tremendously insensitive’ etc.

I’m not much for the whole PC/free speech debate thing. I think both right and left have good and bad points to their arguments, but that’s not what this post is about. What concerns me is the seeming game of verbal one-upmanship that appears to take place on any particular issue, on any particular day, and it seems to be getting more pronounced.

‘I’m offended!’, ‘Oh, well I’m VERY offended!’, ‘Really, well I’m EXTREMELY offended, beat that!…’ You get the idea.

The problem with that kind of approach is that people rush all too quickly to the extremes of a debate. We’re in a race to try to outdo each other to see who can be the most offended, or outraged, or disappointed, or (insert favourite feeling here). It’s become the default approach of too many of our political figures, media personalities, commentators and ‘social influencers’.

The beauty of the approach of course is that you get paint the ‘other side’ as the villain. You get to shut down any discussion, you get to have everything on your own terms. No room for nuance, finesse, or thoughtful discussion and response. The person who screams loudest gets the chocolates. He/She who has the largest megaphone wins.

But in the end, nobody wins, not really. Extremism only generates more extremism. It fosters more tribalism, more outrage, less understanding, less tolerance; until we all end up like little children, screaming at each other from opposite corners of the room. The truth, in many cases, lies somewhere in the middle. But it gets lost in the shouting match.

Extremism will only lead to the (further) fracturing of society, and the more we engage in it, the more fractured we will get. And that starts with the language we use, how we use it, and what we use it for. Because if we all walk around being extremely offended at everything we don’t like, then life is going to become pretty ugly and lonely for a lot of us. If we go around treating every issue as a matter of life and death, then we lose sight of the issues that really are life and death. Language matters folks, and nowhere more so than right here, right now.

I’m wary of the level of language being used out there, from politicians to plain folk alike. It’s like we’re rushing to verbally outdo each other, and I’m tired of it. It won’t make things better, it won’t lead to greater understanding of ‘the other’, it won’t help us to come together where we need to. It will simply drive us further apart.

Language matters, its time to dial it down!

About andy63

Auditorium/Facilities Manager at Kennedy Baptist College. Family man, Dockers Supporter, NFL and NBA tragic who loves the Red Bull Air Race and a good meal. A Christian who is grateful for grace and forgiveness and the fact that Jesus is alive.

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