Where should we direct our anger?
At the Russians, whose understanding of the political divides permeating America allowed them to skillfully and successfully manipulate millions of us into believing the worst about one another and perhaps altering the outcome of the 2016 election?
At social media giants Facebook and Twitter for being willing and compliant tools for Russian operatives, profiting off thousands of Russian-funded ads whose aim was to foment anger and divisiveness among millions of us with fake news and events?
At President Donald Trump, whose administration is under investigation for possibly colluding with the Russians in the 2016 election, for dismissing Russian interference as if it didn’t happen, for playing loose and fast with the truth and for continuously asserting that real news is fake news and vice versa?
At politicians on both sides of the aisle, who constantly attack each other and eschew compromise, bipartisanship and the challenges of governing for the comfortable electability offered by the politics of division?
Anger at any one or all of the above is understandable. The list is long of those who would deceive us to advance their own agendas.
But if we’re honest — if we truly want to hold accountable those responsible for our current state of civic stagnation — we must look inward. We have created the environment that allowed this to happen.
It’s not enough to disagree; we must vilify those who disagree with us. So entrenched are we in our own sociological and political ideologies, we not only think the worst of those with different ideologies, we actively seek stories that confirm our biases about others. Truth doesn’t matter — we believe such stories because we desperately want to believe them.
As consumers of information, we are not discerning and skeptical; instead, we settle for media that reinforce our viewpoints, 24 hours per day, seven days per week. We align ourselves with like-minded souls on social media and viciously, relentlessly and often anonymously, attack those who are not like-minded. In such an environment, how easy — and inexpensive — was it for the Russians to bait us into turning on each other?
The Russians ignited a new Cold War that they don’t have to fight. That’s because we have met the enemy, and he is us.