Polarizing People Causes Unnecessary Negative Emotions

I WAS READING AN ARTICLE for writers explaining how to get onto the Digg home page. Digg is a blog directory that allows people to vote for specific articles. If an article gets enough votes, it appears on the Digg home page, and lots of people visit the site. So this guy was giving advice about how to write an article that has a chance of getting on the Digg front page. He suggested trying to polarize people with your article. That is, write an article in such a way that some people love it and some people hate it. He's not the only one who is doing this.

Controversy sells. Controversy gets attention. But it also produces unnecessary and unproductive anger, outrage, demoralization, and other negative emotions.

Of course, some things should be argued about and if it causes anger, so what? But the author of the article, and the authors of many other articles and television shows, deliberately
try to create anger by polarizing people. They create controversy where not much controversy really exists.

What's the result? More polarization. More anger. And less ability to reach compromises. That perfectly describes the political atmosphere we see today, and it has been getting worse over my lifetime.

Extreme statements on one side make you want to defend the other side, and in so doing, you can become more extremely positioned than you otherwise would be. This gets ratings but slows progress. It sells, but it creates more pessimism than is necessary.

What can you do about it? You've already done it. Once you see something, it is easy to see it again. And for some things, including this one, knowing about it takes away its power.

If you want to do something more, share your knowledge with others. Crush pessimism wherever you find it.

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