The divide between liberal and conservatives is outside the purview of personal life. Only politicians can be divided on liberal and conservative lines. The common man doesn’t care, much less knows clearly what is what. In the apolitical sphere, the divide is more on the lines of what one considers good or acceptable to one’s value system or social sphere. What is good or acceptable is always a mix of ideas that draw from both liberal and conservative schools of thought.
And where values are not applicable like in practical matters, common sense rules the roost.
Loving your nation doesn’t mean you can’t feel empathy for another nation or national. You love your tradition without being anti-modern. And so on.
Yet social media interactions are almost always polarized. If you spend some time on Twitter, for example, you will realize it’s impossible to not take sides – liberal or conservative. The divide is more obvious on TV.
I think it has not so much to do with loyalty to either of these two ideas but opposition to what one considers common sense. Actually common sense is not as apolitical, neutral, innocuous, egalitarian, universal as we think it is. One man’s common sense can be another man’s lack of it. It is shaped by community sensibilities, awareness etc. These things define what is ‘common’ to you. A professor’s common sense, for example, is very different from a man coming from another walk of life.
For some, a little misogynistic or class driven attitude is how things should be normally, but for others, these things stick immediately. They may not publicly object but will privately disapprove.
People take sides or get enraged so easily on social media because this common sense is hurt.
The rage we see on social media against the liberals is because what they stand for, espouse, support, oppose goes against general common sense of people with a conservative bend of mind. Things they have always known to be true (that you should respect the religious sentiments of people, that your country should come first etc) or right are being called otherwise.
There can be multiple examples of that but to cite a few.
Trump’s general behavior is unbecoming of a president and his policies are bizarre but how does that justify not acknowledging his achievements, however little, or carefully under reporting or outrightly overlooking them? This is how American media behaves with him. And this defies the common sense of many people.
In India being a liberal has come to mean attacking everything that is dear to conservatives – national boundaries, mainstream culture, army – they have little else on offer.
And because the liberals don’t stand for anything concrete – borderless humanitarian concerns, triumph of reason over prejudice – the conservatives attribute liberals’ espousal of lofty causes to their pesonal interests. Snootier types, the liberals don’t engage in a direct showdown with the conservatives and blame the declining public discourse caused by the current regime.
Liberals think the conservatives don’t have brains because they don’t understand that even the army can be wrong; the conservatives think liberals are sinister, amoral, generally rich and self-interest driven people with lot of respect for everything foreign and elite and utter disdain for everything indigenous.
Both are opposed to each other’s ‘common sense,’ the basic sense we are all expected to have, even if it varies from person to person.
Is there no difference between a conservative and liberal and is it all made up, merely a social media phenomenon, a public stance?
We have basic and acquired characteristics. The basics, according to me, form the person essentially; the acquired, received through later awareness, are borrowed from the other side. But when it comes to making a choice, the basic characteristics override the acquired ones.
And therefore in an apolitical atmosphere where our beliefs are not put to test or they don’t find any opposition because generally we like to surround ourselves with ‘like minded’ people, balanced views are given but when on social media, the ‘common sense’ is challenged and we take sides.