Monday, January 05, 2009

They're Not Stupid, Just Different

Apart from my political leanings, I work in information technology. This is a profession that is full of smart, but often misunderstood people. Many people look on us as having some sort of magical rapport with computers. I have spent a lot of time troubleshooting computer problems (in fact it started taking so much time, I started charging for it so people would quit bothering me) as well as giving advice. Usually I don't mind. I enjoy helping people. However, every now and then it gets frustrating when I see the same problems over and over again. It even gets to the point that I wonder how people can not understand what, to me, are the simplest concepts.

This frustration pervades among the "computer geeks" of the country. Many of the forums complain of how stupid people are. They rail against businesses, politicians, and any other profession they see as severly misguided. I fear, however, that this may give them the idea that they are smarter than everybody else; that anybody who doesn't agree with them is an idiot. Yet somehow this country has survived, businesses have flourished, and people have lived happy lives in spite of not being as smart as us techies.

I see the same thing in politics. There is a polarization that occurs and it seems to make people think that their side of the aisle has all of the good ideas. Too many democrats would assert that if a republican says something, it's wrong. Too many republicans think that all ideas from democrats are flawed. I have seen countless arguments on forums, etc. that summarily dismiss anything that doesn't conform to a preset form of ideals.

In other words, too many people are spending their energy villifying the other side. There are too many arguments that have no substance. Too much time spent on blame and not enough on resolving issues.

We, as a people, need to stop treating people as the enemy and start looking at where they are coming from. We need to stop spouting mindless sound bites and start examining our own beliefs. I have found, as I have spoken with several friends who - GASP! - are democrats, that the results that the democratic and republican parties are looking for are very similar. Equal opportunities for all, a prosperous people, a high standard of living. We all agree on the desired outcomes, it's simply the path to the outcome that we disagree on. However, if we can seek to understand them, it's possible to come to a middle ground that everybody can agree on. At least on some items. On others, we may have to agree to disagree, however, at least we will understand where they're coming from and they will understand where we're coming from and both of us can walk away thinking: They're not stupid, just different.

1 comment:

AmyLu said...

I think our entire country has a bit of the "it's my way or the highway" mentality -- geeks, politicians, athletes, movie stars, housewives, CEOs, everyone. The trick is to find a way to allow for other "ways". It doesn't mean you have to get off your own road, just allow for parallel paths.