We call it tradition when we want to rationalize a stop off for a bite to eat or a meet up with a friend. The fondly committal air of tradition causes us to take a good amount of random propositions in stride. Think, “Let’s go see a movie, it’s tradition!”
To call something tradition is a wickedly effective way of finagling you into spending a little extra money or wasting a little extra time- in a way nobody usually has much opposition to. My contention however, is rooted in the type of situation where your traditional donut shop stop-off gets a remodel and draws quite the crowds and the new popularity suddenly compels a little reconsideration of your tradition. Do you want to soldier on through line culture for your jelly filled, or do you want to concede and start looking for a new place to put your donut tradition business?
The larger concept of the donut conundrum, in my opinion lately manifests itself with regard not just to donuts but public discourse. The ways we go about offering our opinions have become charged with feeling and the mentality of that 90210 line, “May the bridges I burn light the way.” In today’s day and age, the discussion of politics is not relegated to evening conversation over cups of decaf but is freed up to take place over the WWW- this shift both wonderful and ever detrimental to what used to be common courtesy**. We’re a society untethered by the restraints of what used to be considered propriety. No longer is there the interactional stability that once existed in over coffee-public discourse, where you were forced to realize the human being across from you at any moment could burst into tears or laughter so you’d better speak accordingly.
So hung up are we on defining our identities through politics that we devote diminutive airtime to issues with potential to reach bipartisan agreement. Single issues pervade news feeds, issues like abortion and gun control, with which no universally satisfying consensus can be simply arrived at.
Even now, I feel the need to qualify my political leaning in order to fully round out this piece with such obviously political implications. There is a sense that you need to know how someone politically identifies them self before you decide whether or not to identify with them/ even take them seriously. Though since it is polarizing internet partisanship that I take issue with, I’d like to very intentionally not include any tinges of what may be my political leanings.
I’d venture that an improvement would lie not in institution of cyber etiquette ™ but in intentional discussion of important topics that don’t alienate. With knowledge of the utter futility of abrasive internet partisanship, the substance of public discourse needs to shift to matters of universal beneficence. Because the regressive shift in civility can be attributed less to lack of manners and more to utter lack of effort to find common ground.
The party of tolerance has been exposed as a group that tolerates primarily within their own circles. The party of limited government has control of two, potentially three branches of government making it what could not be accurately defined as limited. There is a sense of partisan division and even more striking, inter party division. The issues we as a nation run round and around cat and mouse style haven’t been resolved. There is a sense that, were politics to be a game of chess, nobody’s really happy with their game right now. And to further the angst, the game is rife with controversies never explicated anywhere in the rulebook. What is the correct national response to globalism? The correct response to poverty?
We have been moving the same partisan issue chess pieces over and over to no avail and now we must employ use of pieces we haven’t touched in attempt to restructure the game in everyone’s favor.
In the name of political discourse and all that’s right with our country, let’s set our content of discourse straight and update this great tradition.
*I acknowledge this title does not address the content of this piece with complete accuracy, I was honestly mostly in it for the acronym.
**This is not to say that many of us don’t carefully craft our opinions through constant revisal before hitting the post button. And I know many of us even go so far as to generously throw in some “With all respect, …”s!