“Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in”
“Everyday People” - Sly & The Family Stone
I love the word picture in “Everyday People” that is painted as the song continues, speaking about how people are struggling with the choices of their neighbors, meanwhile that neighbor is struggling with his/her own identity. The picture painted is that this is going on at all times with all people, and we simply don’t know what’s going on under the surface.
The recent revelations regarding Facebook and Instagram that the social media platforms not only are not fighting misinformation and conflict on the platforms to the best of their ability but that they are actively encouraging and profiting from it is really not surprising at all.
Do this little experiment - post something wholly positive on your social media account - no picture to add to the post, just positive words about a positive experience that you experienced that’s fairly everyday. Watch the interactions on that post.
Now post a picture with the same exact post. The algorithms like images, so that will pop up on more feeds and likely get more “likes” and comments, but still most likely will not exactly engage a lot of people.
Finally, post a controversial view on something socially or politically that is in the news currently.
Your post will be pushed onto feeds more than others and get more reactions - because Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Tik Tok/etc. all know that’s how to engage us…encourage dividing us.
Our politicians have grabbed hold of this, and while the country continues to poll predominantly centrist in political beliefs, meaning that roughly 70-80% of the country is muddled politically and does not hold true to either party’s beliefs wholeheartedly, the 10-15% of extremists on each side holler loudly and create the impression that there is more of a divide than truly exists.
Quite simply, we are all too interconnected here in Huron to allow such petty things to pull us apart.
A recent example sprung to mind.
In 1984, a pair of fresh-faced young men played American Legion baseball together in Huron.
My family is part of those two men’s interwoven connection that is still bearing fruit nearly 40 years later in the Huron community.
One of those young men was my uncle Bob. The other was his friend Tim.
Fast forward a decade, and Tim is now my high school math teacher and basketball coach at Wolsey. Not only that, but he is also the girls’ basketball coach, for whom I do the statistics and sometimes travel with the team on the team bus to away games.
My impression of Tim’s integrity on those bus rides and the way he handled bus rides with high school girls after an exciting win or a tough loss bled into the way he required us to play with integrity on the court during the boys’ season, even having one player leave the court after he wouldn’t listen throughout an entire practice.
Tim’s family has remained part of the Huron community, and his daughters were once part of discussion on those team bus rides as the girls’ teams doted over how he was raising his girls.
Two decades later, I’m raising my family.
My youngest is the second of my children to go through first grade with one of Tim’s daughters as a teacher.
Needless to say, when her teacher assignment was discovered this summer, the sister who had previously had the same teacher was ecstatic for her younger sister, letting her know how lucky she was.
Two weeks before I got married, my cousin married Tim’s other daughter, and she now works in town as a Certified Physician Assistant. She is the primary care provider for my four children.
If I took the time to research it, that connection likely could go back further and even deeper if I wanted to pull at the string a bit, but as we finalized putting all four children under one medical provider recently, it struck me just how connected our town truly is.
Sure, we may not agree on single issues, and it’s quite easy to sit behind a keyboard and slap an emoji or even write out a charged comment on a post, but in the end, we will have children on the same soccer team or will serve on the same church board or a plethora of other connections within the community.
We are all everyday people, interwoven with one another, relying on one another for the success of our community. Those who would seek to divide that part of this country should really be reviewed as “unpatriotic” and other such terms that they enjoy throwing at one another.
Just as social media platforms get more engagement by pushing divisiveness, those politicians that seemingly gain more press and more airtime also stoke extremes and divides in our society.
Is it a wonder that most view our country as significantly more divided than the actual polling shows we truly are?
This is an “off-year” at the polls, but it’s important to note that the opportunity is consistently there to remove those who push for division.
Neither an “R” or a “D” behind a name is specifically right nor specifically wrong, and as part of a joined community that works together in spite of our different views, it’s imperative for all of us to find those who can work in a similar way in Pierre and in Washington, D.C.
Working together across party lines to vote in or vote out those who seek to divide the country - that’s the REAL power of everyday people.