You know how sometimes you don't know the answer until someone asks you the question. Last summer I had a dear friend move back to the States after living abroad for seven years. She asked me whether it was part of the normal reverse culture shock of moving back to feel overwhelmed by texts, e-mails and trying to keep in touch with people. No, I responded. That's not from moving back. That's the new normal for American culture. Everyone feels that way.
Not only that, everyone also feels disenfranchised, no matter what your beliefs. And in the great American tradition, if you feel like no one's listening to you, just say it louder and more frequently. It doesn't matter what you're saying and whether it's true or not. The people with those same beliefs will gravitate to you and you'll make like-minded people like you and more importantly, your shared beliefs, even more. That's how extremism works. Which only makes the divide in our nation even worse. If that's even possible.
Because of technology, everything is changing so fast. We have to stay connected to keep up. Because of fear, we're rushing to judgment and seeking quick fixes instead of seeking long term solutions. The result being, we're all in a constant state of stress and I don't think most of us even realize that we are. "But how are people coping?", my friend asked. "By being assholes", I replied.
Not that everyone is a but-what's-in-it-for-me-selfish-asshole, I actually firmly believe they're in the minority. But the thing is they're a really, loud obnoxious minority, so they seem like they're the majority. Now, the better part of the rest of the world has thought Americans are assholes for years. Because let's face it, we've done a lot of selfish, asshole-ish things around the world. It's just that now it's starting to effect our bottom line.
While 2017 was a record year for international travel, travel to the US was down by 4%. Which doesn't seem like much, until you convert it dollars which ttranslates to 32 billion dollars lost, not to mention the subsequent loss of American jobs in the tourist industry. Foreigners are scared to travel here. With the travel bans and derogatory comments about their countries made by our president, I can't blame them. You're scared to travel here? Try living here. Last week I had to contemplate what to do when a student at my kids' school threatened to blow it up. This is the new normal now. And there's no end in sight.
What's the solution? I wish I knew. But, it starts with realizing that what we do (or don't do) has an effect on everything and everyone else on the planet. And the effect of those will come right back to us like karma. We live in a global economy, therefore, isolating ourselves isn't a viable long-term solution. We need to focus on what we have in common to move forward, instead of the curating the diviseness that's crippling us as a culture.