Who doesn’t love people who think like them?
Isn’t it fantastic? You can say something … anything … and there’s your like-minded person, right there, to agree with you.
Like-minded people are fun, aren’t they?
After chatting with them for a mere five minutes, you find that you’ve quickly and quite potentially made a new friend. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself talking to one another and the other person will always respond by saying …
“I know! Right?”
Either that or you’re always finishing one another’s sentences. That’s a little creepy – especially if you’re two dudes - so we won’t dwell on that today.
Still, isn’t it a major and I mean major, element of friendship? You must have things in common. You must be on the same page. You have to think at least somewhat alike, otherwise, how would a friendship work?
This is what I find so interesting about online communities. We’re using technology to help us do something that’s perhaps better suited to face-to-face interaction. We want to feel connected and maybe a little appreciated by those who connect with us.
We don’t want to feel disconnected or isolated. Even so-called loners need connection. And who better to connect with than a like-minded person?
Do you know what I think is so cool about meeting a like-minded person? It’s like getting a pat on the back. Someone is there to tell you that you’re not crazy. And if you are crazy, you’re not alone. You now have a co-dependent cohort.
Isn’t that interesting? Being crazy is horrible, but somehow, the thought of not being the only crazy person in the room, somehow, makes you feel better. That’s what like-minded people do. They comfort the crazy … and the loneliness.
Whenever I meet a like-minded person, I always say to myself…
“Now, THAT’s someone I can have lunch with!”
Like-minded people rock. They give me life. They make me feel accepted and maybe even honored.
I remember the very first time I visited Art Basel Miami Beach. I felt SO at home. I felt like I had finally met my tribe. I live in a BIG sports town where people don’t know much about art and don’t really care.
Of course, there are some great art institutions here, but everything seems so bunkered up and silo-driven to me. I’m not saying I’m right about this. I’m just saying how I feel about it.
Like this sentence, I feel isolated.
Anyway, whenever I connect with other art people, it makes me feel not so alone. It makes me feel that my voice matters and that I have value amid a chorus of naysayers.
This is why like-minded people are so important. They help us remain social, socially relevant and perhaps most importantly, socially healthy.
Like-minded people and relationships are really the antidote to anti-social behavior … up to a point.
But here’s the problem that I have with like-minded relationships.
Particularly online, we’re seeing an ever-increasing number of these groups and communities where people are connecting with other people who think and see things – for the most part – the same way as they do.
This is great and it really promotes social interaction. However, my issue is this ... I think social media groups and socializing ONLY with like-minded people builds up this kind of intolerance and resentment toward other people who have viewpoints different from our own.
In short, we’ve been building psychological and sociological firewalls around ourselves. The scary part is … we either don’t realize this OR we don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.
This is precisely what has led to what I’ll call, “Ideological Retardation.”
We’re now stuck in this weird, stubborn, oral-anal fixated way of thinking that rejects anything that doesn’t affirm or confirm us or fit within OUR conception of reality. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. It simply MUST fit within our ideology and social circle.
It feels that these days, nothing is more important than your ideology. Ideology now means more than the fact that we’re all Americans or even human beings.
These days, if I don’t share your ideology or if you don’t share mine, there’s simply nothing more to say to one another. This is tragic.
Today, we believe that when something doesn’t fit well or sit right with us, I’m not wrong, YOU are. In short, it’s retarded. Yes, retarded. And yes, I mean that in a derogatory way. There’s simply no euphemism for this way of thinking - nor should there be. This way of thinking means we’re not growing socially; we may even be regressing.
Do you know what this means? It means you’re highly likely to say something stupid and offensive to someone simply because they don’t look like you. It also means you’re probably spending too much time with like-minded people and you’re now feeding off of one another.
Your “like-minded” way of life has become a little too incestuous.
I was actually going to title this essay, “Ideological Masturbation,” but that’s gross, so I veered away from that. Either way, what’s happening among us is not healthy at all.
You know, when I sit here and think for a moment, I don’t believe that I’ve ever really learned much from people who think like me. However, I can sure tell you that I’ve learned a LOT from people whose viewpoints differ from my own.
Like-minded people don’t really learn from each other. They comfort one another. They support one another. They coddle one another.
Again, that’s great, but comfort is never the best way to grow as a person. It is indeed possible to be too comforting. Examine your own life and I think you’ll find this to be true. Consider this equation:
Comfort – Personal Growth = Ideological Retardation.
People who have views that are different from our own have a tendency to give us unwanted, little pin pricks, don’t they? They wake us up and remind us that the world doesn’t necessarily revolve around us and our viewpoint.
There’s this awkwardly beautiful and kick-ass (sometimes literally) energy that exists between people with differing viewpoints. While like-minded people provide comfort and familiarity, meeting people with views that are different from our own creates huge avenues for personal growth and social advancement.
Isn’t that the whole point?
Look, let’s be real here. When like-minded people put their heads together on a project, there’s no stopping them. Great things can and will be accomplished.
However, at some point, like-mindedness can go wrong. It can become incestuous and feed on itself. It can become stale and stagnant. It can become … well … BORING.
While I love being with “my tribe,” I also know enough about like-mindedness to not dwell in it. It’s great to always be in contact with your friends and supporters, but you have to be able to realize when you’re no longer growing.
Life is very sad right now because we’ve got a lot of people out there who are happily wallowing in ideological retardation. They’ve actually embraced it. Their personal ideology is all that matters.
I got the idea to write this after looking at tons of social media profile pages. One of the things that I always do is look at their “friends.” Instantly, I see lots of photos and I must say that most of the time, all I see are photos of people who more or less look alike. By appearance alone, everyone basically looks the same. There are no visual “standouts.”
This is a shame. How are we going to grow as a society when all we want are warm, fuzzy and comfy people who look like US and make US feel better about being who we are? There’s no learning to be had there, is there?
Look … no one and I mean no one … loves a warm, fuzzy, comfy and like-minded person more than I do. Let’s face it. Like-minded people are like our little teddy bears that we had as kids. We love them.
Still, in the face of all of that like-mindedness, is there anything more intriguing than meeting someone who’s maybe just a little different from you?
It’s like getting a tiny pin prick in your ass. It doesn’t have to hurt, but boy, does it wake you up and remind you that you’ve only got one life to live.
We can either blow this life out and live to the fullest … OR … we can retreat and remain in our comfy, little cubby hole communities with like-minded people who will always say exactly what we want to hear. It’s like giving propofol to the tone deaf.
Believe me, I totally get it. It's a tough world out there. We all want reassurance from people we trust.
Still ... are YOU ideologically retarded?