And Not Or

I love Twitter. Really, I do. I use it as my primary news source for most topics. I use it to keep in touch with people and I use it to promote my business. But what Twitter does not do well is nuance. It’s really difficult to convey complex ideas in 140 characters. The modern media model in general does not support nuance. Blunt force carries more impact drives more traffic and creates more revenue. This model is present on tv and radio as well but is at its most obvious online.

To have a real discussion about complex issues you need nuance. The most important subjects are not black and white. Too often end up in discussions that only allow for “or”. When we are stuck in “Or” mode, we lose the ability to learn from multiple aspects of a story. We end up conflating ideas that are connected in the news cycle but while related are not actually dependent on each other.

The danger of this thinking was evident in Ted Cruz’s comments on Net Neutrality. He didn’t understand the topic but because Obama was for it, he was against it. Had the president come out in favor of pizza he would have been suddenly anti pizza.

But you can see topics everywhere that could be more robust if not for the insistence on Or. We can have massive racial issues that lead to Freddie Gray tragedies and police departments are over armed in this country and citizens need to have more responsible and less violent responses at times like this.

There can be real problems within Islam that need to be fixed by Muslims and some Muslims are being needlessly persecuted.

Uber might very well have cultural problems at the management level and be an amazing product that transforms the economy and creates massive economic opportunity for its employees and knocks down entrenched special interests that only benefit a few.

Floyd Mayweather can be an amazing athlete who is thrilling to watch and be an abomination of a human being.

This trend extends into and severely limits our public discourse on topics across the spectrum. We limit our ability to solve the problems in all areas because we use language in a limiting way.

We need to get out of the realm of Or and back into discussions that allow for And. Or else.