Many people like the concept of the Walking Dead and thinking about what they would do if a zombie apocalypse became a reality. Well, I don’t think we are too far away from this happening. We are not going to wake up tomorrow to zombies trying to eat us in the literal sense, but we are slowing losing our ability to think for ourselves as others attempt to devour our brains.
We are becoming and creating zombies all around us, just not in the manner you may be thinking. Binary thinking has taken over and is spreading like wildfire throughout society. This type of thinking tells us everything is either A or B. You are Democrat or Republican. There is no middle ground. Sometimes this almost seems ok on the surface, but these labels define us and our thinking. We want to be a part of a certain tribe and allow group think to take over our own thoughts. We are becoming mindless zombies trying to devour those who think differently.
We saw this during the election, when stories about either side were published and no one took the time to run it through their logic filters or look a step deeper. It became fact, because it supported the deeper rooted thoughts of their tribe.The media has learned they can make a fortune by creating sides and feeding a narrative. It doesn’t even have to be true, it just has to feed their zombies. We saw this more recently with Nike’s ad campaign. There are those who have very strong feelings about multiple issues it represents and some boycotted the brand and others support it more. Brands are taking advantage of the divisive beliefs we have just as the media has and it is dangerous.
When I was a kid, a local teenager was shot and killed as he walked out of a fast food restaurant because he was wearing the wrong color shoes. The shooter was a wanna-be gangster and shot this teen because his shoes were the color of his rival gang. It is going to come to the point where we see a branded item on a person and shun them or worse. This has always been going on, but the danger is greater now.
Not to mention, we are looking like hypocritical fools. One of my favorite examples is Lebron James. When he left Cleveland to go to the Heat, he was hated. Told to never return. His jerseys were burned. Then…he returned. Apparently, all was now forgiven. Examples like this can be found with just about every issue. I have been criticized on here because I used a quote from some celebrity who apparently was unethical. I wasn’t deifying the celebrity or even supporting him, I simply liked one of his ideas. If we stop talking to others because they have different beliefs, we are eventually going to run out of people to talk to or form relationships with. I have never worked on a team where I loved everyone’s ideas or work ethics, but our diversity made the collective better.
We are no longer talking to each other. Research shows younger generations prefer to talk to one another via text or other form of messenger than face to face. We are guilted to tiptoe around taboo topics when we actually are face to face and then we get on social media and become keyboard gangsters. We can’t be scared to have our beliefs questioned or debated. I have very strong Christian beliefs, but I am not going to attack someone because they disagree with Christianity. It is ok that others do not think the same way I do. In fact, learning how others think help me to strengthen certain beliefs and adjust others.
When it is not ok to think differently is when we go after others for what they believe. There are those who want to shove their ideas down our throats and turn us into mindless zombies who only believe the narrative of their tribe. This is when the line is crossed. The solution is to stop trying to “convert” others and to stop thinking those with different thoughts are the enemy. The next Civil War in this country won’t be shooting at each other, it will be isolating ourselves from those with differing opinions.
We have to learn to talk to one another again. I am a huge fan of Celeste Headlee’s book, We Need to Talk. She teaches us how to have conversations that matter and I will say that I know her personally and disagree with a lot of her views, but we still can dialogue and be friendly. She knows what she is talking about and the book is worth the read or at least watch her Ted Talk.
Slowly but surely, we are losing our ability to think critically and to share those thoughts with others in a non-threatening way. As leaders, we need to be open minded and encourage our teams to fight this instinct to fall into the binary thinking trap. We need to encourage open dialogue and listen to those who think differently.