Is America tired of division and fragmentation?
In an article about why the ratings for last night’s Oscars were up, Richard Rushfield, writing for Buzzfeed, proposes that it’s partly because America, even though it seems hopelessly divided into two major camps and never the twain shall meet, might be getting a little tired of division, and perhaps there’s a hunger for a little less fragmentation.
While the general trend of the past decade has been the fragmentation and niche-ification of American culture, little noticed has been a counter-trend: a yearning again for community.
Even as the ratings for the traditional broadcast networks continue to plummet, in recent years (overall, if not year-to-year), ratings for the Super Bowl, presidential debates, and the Grammy Awards are all up.
As we break up into our separate lunch tables, there have been signs across the culture of a hunger for these national moments, of people wanting to be a part of the things that everyone is talking about. With Twitter and social media fanning the flames ever hotter, there seems to be an appetite to acknowledge and celebrate them more than ever.
Perhaps we all WANT that, but when it comes down to brass tacks, it seems to me we are still addicted to shields on full and phasers set to kill, especially seeing the rise of hardcore political and cultural extremists on one side condemning the very idea of compromise, and a reactionary response from the other side to therefore take all compromise off the table. Discussion of differing points of view usually consists of not much more than “F— you and the horse you rode in on.” The main tactic seems to be “We’re going to blow this up and blame you for it!”
What do you think? Are we getting tired of division, fragmentation and the nonstop cultural and political war?