When I wrote my Twilight Zone post a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize how weird things would get, and quickly. The markets are one thing, although the speed and magnitude of this rebound wave in equities is not that different than many others I have witnessed over 25 years. This one is just big and is taking a while. What really concerns me, however, is the accelerating disintegration of our social fabric and polarization of everything. Recently an old man was beaten by an attendant at a nursing home, recorded on video no less so everyone could see the horrible act. A couple days ago a man was pinned down by police officers, and then later died. It is not clear how he died, but the officer appeared to be using excessive force on his head and neck area while holding him down during the arrest. The media reaction to these two events has been different, although I am not contending they have equal weights. One event was given very little press in the mainstream and very little commentary by government leaders. The other has been broadcast for 24/7 since it occurred, with various leaders speaking out and calling for immediate punishment for the officers who have since been fired. I actually saw one comment on social media stating the officer had intent to kill.
The varied reaction to these horrible acts is a great tell as to how divided and polarized we are as a society. It seems everything has to be viewed through a political and often racial lens. However is it about race, or is it something else? Is it a broader socio economic decay that is augmented along racial lines? A breakdown in civilized society? Perhaps it is just that these things have always occurred, with the exception being they are now caught on camera more often, intentionally or otherwise.
The media, in my view, is at the root cause as to why things have become polarized. Media correspondents no longer report the news, they want to make the news. Social media companies want to provide a narrative for everything. If you don’t agree with that narrative, you may be “fact-checked” or outright censored. I have a big problem with this as it has been going on for years, and accelerated during the Trump era. It is one thing to have a different opinion and a robust discussion on the pros and cons of an issue, but it is entirely another to completely dismiss another vantage point simply because it doesn’t align with a narrative. If facts need to be omitted, then so be it. To me this is a fundamental breakdown in a basic pillar of democracy…and completely unacceptable.
Does it mean our current form of governance is no longer sustainable? Stay tuned.