I really feel that we have all become too polarized when it comes to politics these days. It seems like all we do now is yell out our opinions on things instead of trying to engage in helpful conversations, or even healthy debate, about the things that really matter.

Social media is one place I see this play out particularly horribly. Think about it — who does it help to tap out, in 140 characters or less, what you feel about the fiscal cliff, or gun control, or whatever large topic you feel strongly about. Chances are you will come across as someone who hasn’t given the subject much thought to those on the other side of the debate. Making it worse, the other side is just going to respond to you with inflammatory statements and a vicious cycle will be well under way.

Equally bad, main stream media is now referred to in the context of which way it leans. FOX is “conservative,” someone else is “liberal,” etc. The very people we’re relying on to report what is happening to us have to be put through a filter in an attempt to remove their opinion from the story if there’s any hope to glean the actual facts about a story from what they have to say. It’s not that I expect completely unbiased reporting. I believe that is too high of a bar to set. However, I do believe that it’s currently at an unacceptable level.

This also contributes to the polarization of the citizens as well. Those that tend to lean toward conservative positions on things tend to listen to conservative news media, with the liberals doing the same. I don’t think I’m the first person to see this over-all polarization happening. I’ve certainly heard others around me mention it.

I was speaking with a friend the other day and admitted that I sometimes have trouble speaking with people on political matters where we don’t agree. This is because I start feeling like I am being talked at and never listened to or engaged in conversation. Of course, if I’m not engaging in conversation on these matters then I’m not hearing the other side either.

That needs to change though. I believe we all need to start really talking. It’s not going to be easy, and there is going to need to be compromise if we ever want to move forward. Both sides will need to be willing to hear the others thoughts as well as thoughtfully articulate their own. We can’t just keep yelling our own opinions at each other and getting angry when the other side simply says, “I disagree” before shutting down. We need to start pushing through that disagreement and finding some common ground. Not only this, but we need to start insisting that our elected officials do the same, all the way up to the President.

We can’t continue having these scenarios where one side completely wins and the other side completely loses. In my opinion, it really means we all lose when this happens because it just pushes us further apart from each other when we need to be coming together.