Pi Attitude Zone: Conformity & Stability

America’s Disappearing Middle Ground

The law of averages states that, if you are standing with one foot encased in a block of ice and the other foot in a bucket of scalding hot water, you should in theory be perfectly comfortable.

Dangerous things, averages, particularly since they have a habit of obscuring more truths than they reveal, and masking contradictions.

How much do we really learn from average statistics? In reality, Mr. And Mrs. Average are probably harder to find in today’s America than almost anywhere on earth. (And if you did find them, they probably wouldn’t still be married, at least not to each other).

For all the USA’s apparent homogeneities, if you take a Latino in Texas, a black person in Atlanta and a white New Englander, you will find that they lead different lives and typify different cultures. Demographics and the science of socio-economics explain part of this — the earnings gap separating America’s richest and poorest citizens has widened since the 1970’s, for instance — but differences run much broader and deeper than that.

With each passing year, the average American has less and less in common with his fellow-Americans. Ethnicity, culture and social issues cluster people in tight new groupings. Shifts in the role of women, changes in marital and sexual mores and mutating family units all compound the fragmentation effect. Socially liberal attitudes spread in some places, while fiercely moralistic conservatism becomes ever more entrenched in others.

One casualty has been the ‘typical American community’, which used to represent a cross-section of class, outlook and opinions.  Now, however, the strong likelihood is that all your neighbors think like you, vote like you and get their news from the same cable-TV channel as you.  Political campaign ads mostly just denigrate the ‘otherness’ of the opposing party.  The fundamental message is:  “Our guy?  He’s like you.  He thinks like you.  You can trust him.  Their guy?  He’s not like you.  He doesn’t think like you.  You can’t trust him”.

How can reasoned, open debate take place in such conditions?  And where, amid all that polarization, would you look for the average American citizen?

Pi says it again: misleading things, averages.

Zone: Conformity & Stability Country: USA / North America Product –