One of the oddest features of our new age of technology is the moment we dig into a Facebook comment thread featuring friends we know to be people of limitless patience and good humor in person. But there on social media, they’re tearing into each other with name calling and unkindness that makes our jaw drop.
And let’s be honest. Many of us have done more than observe – we’ve been there in the comment thread too. The tremendous communicator and thinker Brant Hansen returns to On the Road with a fascinating second look at how this comes to be.
“There’s a thing called ‘attitude polarization’, and it’s when I take a stand and I say something I sort of, I’m pretty sure I believe. But I’m not positive. I’ll pass something along. Then somebody is like, ‘Well that’s not a good idea. Here’s the problem with this thinking.’ I instantly double down on what I had said earlier, and now I thoroughly believe that! If we hear ourselves say something – we’ve proven this – if we say something out in the open, we will believe it strongly. And go to the mat.”
“That’s why you don’t see people all of a sudden backing down when they lose an argument. We don’t see that, where somebody is like, ‘Yeah. Good point. You’re right.’ Nobody ever does that! We double down. We triple down. We go to the mat. Maybe you’ve been in arguments where the other person is clearly wrong, but they’re not going to back off, because they said it. So now they’ve got to go all the way.”
Though it sounds thoroughly ridiculous when we diagnose it, this obsession with being seen to be right goes to the heart of who we are.
“We’re so dialed into making ourselves into good people. We don’t want to be the ones that just spread bad information, you know? It’s very difficult for us to back off something we’ve already said.”
Brant’s central message here isn’t a quest to make us feel badly about ourselves, it’s finding true freedom in the humility of who we are & who God is.
“Humility is understanding who I actually am, and who God is. How good He really is. And then not thinking about myself all the time! So it’s not a guilt trip. It’s a way out of thinking about myself constantly.”
“As I get older, I do want to be one of those old guys that – he’s thinking about other people. He’s there with wisdom, and he’s not still chasing his own significance. That gets shaped earlier in life. It doesn’t just flip the switch when you’re 65 or 70 and you suddenly become a peaceful, wise person. C.S. Lewis talked about that too. We have to guard ourselves – the little habits, the little attitudes that we’re developing when we’re younger. That’s a trajectory. By the time we’re older, we become caricatures of that.”
Facing reality like this is a key to unlocking the joy and hope we can live with every day.
“It’s not a downer! It’s just going, hey, there’s relief to be found in being childlike and understanding the truth. God is so good! And we don’t have to have it all figured out.“
Brant Hansen is a nationally syndicated radio host, author & speaker whose library of fresh insight expands with his latest – called The Truth about Us: The Very Good News about How Very Bad We Are.On the Road with Brant Hansen