“Sorry to confuse you, but all that you know is wrong
And there’s just no name for what’s gone on.”Antimatter, Everything You Know Is Wrong
Like many of us, I grew up in a mostly polarized social environment. There was us versus them conditioning, a binary conception of the world that seemed to be embedded in the average psyche. When I was a kid, it was most evident in football. My city has two major teams whose fans have always hated the other side with a vehemence that would not be out of place in a late 80s action movie, and the same scenario is repeated in most of the country, with varying degrees of violence, to this very day.
|Buenos Aires, Argentina – Pedestrians and traffic – Nick Photoworld|
When I started growing up, the pattern kept appearing in different settings. One of my harshest memories of this is in the form of high school pestering (I wouldn’t go so far as to call it bullying). When I was fourteen, I became obsessed with music. It was the grunge era, and that scene brought about my first serious crush with distorted guitars and angst-ridden lyrics. From there, I delved into all kinds of music across the spectrum. In a couple of years, I had amassed a decent collection of mostly pirated tapes where classic death metal from Florida coexisted with foundational albums from the sixties and synth pop. Having an eclectic musical taste was, and still is, a source of pride for me. I also thought it made me cool, so I talked about music all the time and recommended artists to anyone within range.
|Buenos Aires, Argentina – Florida street – Spectral Design|
One day, I was wearing a Rolling Stones hoodie while praising Anthrax and I started getting heckled by a guy whose main function in life seemed to be harassing everyone. He started asking if I liked this band, and that other one, and what about this one? Most of my answers were yes, because I didn’t feel the need to lie. But people where suddenly laughing at my expense, because how could you like Suffocation and Prince at the same time? You had to pick one side. Metal or pop. Cool kid or nerd. Us or them. I didn’t have the tools that I have now, but the current me would have answered that it was all music and so it was all valuable.
|Buenos Aires, Argentina – Hanging out – Michele Rinaldi|
I have encountered replicas of that situation many times over the following years. Some of them were not as harmless as the musical dichotomy. In recent years, the inability to grasp that not everything is one side against another has taken a darker turn. As some of us seem to move to a more tolerant, inclusive and compassionate way of living, there is a counter-tide rising in the form of what could only be described as a return to archaic ideas.
|Moreno, Argentina – The willow in fog – José Ignacio Pompé|
2018 was the year when I learned in horror that there are far right-wing camps in Argentina providing combat training and using nefarious historical personalities as symbols. It was also the year where our senate rejected the bill to legalize abortion, thus denying women what should be a basic right and perpetuating the cycle of violence against them. And yet these actions might actually be a small and pathetic effort by old-fashioned schools of thought against inevitable evolution. Those old ways are usually tied to a ruling elite and based on extreme, absolute notions that stem from religious thought and tradition. They seek to divide us and force us to be on one side or the other, and it’s even more profitable for the powers that be if we end up hating each other in the process. Division feeds on fear, and we saw it at work in Brazil during the 2018 election, where a despicable bigot became president via fear mongering. The campaigners even used anti-communist notions taken straight out of the McCarthy era.
|Buenos Aires, Argentina – Evening – Matias Wong|
But I think there’s a simple explanation for this, and I believe we shouldn’t see it as an us or them situation. Or maybe we should, but at an individual level. There’s a rift in all of us, implanted as we grow up and learn about life. We are taught to perceive everything as a dual scenario and one of the sides always has to win, to conquer the other. And so, otherness becomes the enemy. As a certainly not-open-minded writer once said, the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. Violent species as we are, the human approach to overcoming that fear has usually been to destroy what causes it. And that is just one of the myriad of things we have been doing wrong throughout history.
|Purmamarca, Argentina – The shopping mile – Angelo D’Amico|
Our goal should be learning about what is alien to us. Know your so-called enemy, and the animosity will fade. But to achieve that, one has to delve deeper into the inner foe, the one that’s on the other side of the canyon inside us. The tiny, angry voice that shouts in frustration because it doesn’t want to see that we’re all the same. We all have one of those pesky voices, as proved constantly by the open-minded individuals who suddenly become conservative when they approach middle age. I know many of those; I went to school with them. They are wrong, but we should teach them why instead of calling them names. I struggle to shut the inner reactionary’s words down and understand what they’re saying at the same time.
|Cordoba, Argentina – Afternoon break – DAscaino Foto|
When I do this, I find that there are always more than two sides, and that all their points of view might be valid in some way. Except for the intolerant ones. We should send those to the void of forgotten thoughts so they can never come back.
Snapshot 1: Puerto Madryn, Argentina – On the coast – Salvatore Ferri (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 2: Buenos Aires, Argentina – Pedestrians and traffic – Nick Photoworld (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 3: Buenos Aires, Argentina – Florida street – Spectral Design (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 4: Buenos Aires, Argentina – Hanging out – Michele Rinaldi (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 5: Moreno, Argentina – The willow in fog – José Ignacio Pompé (Unsplash)
Snapshot 6: Buenos Aires, Argentina – Evening – Matias Wong (Unsplash)
Snapshot 7: Purmamarca, Argentina – The shopping mile – Angelo D’Amico (Shutterstock)
Snapshot 8: Cordoba, Argentina – Afternoon break – DAscaino Foto (Shutterstock)
Cinemblem voiceover: Nathan Jackson
Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel
The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes
Ahmed, Amina. Growing up with Abuse: A Life of Extremes – Lebanon. April 2019.
Alencar, Joana. Lack of Social Trust – Brazil. January 2019.
Awdejuk, Pawel. Pole-arization – Poland. June 2019.
Baccino, Alejandra. Polarization within Ourselves – South America. January 2019.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. What You Sow Does Not Come To Life Unless It Dies – Ukraine. May 2019.
Cannarella, Daniela. A Past-Present Dicotomia – Italy. June 2019.
Casas, Marilin Guerrero Casas. Balance – Cuba. May 2019.
Cordido, Veronica. Hanging by Extremes – Venezuela. January 2019.
Escandell, Andrea da Silva. The Illogic of Extremes – Uruguay. May 2019.
Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Extremism Is Now the New Hype? – Spain. February 2019
Israyelyan, Mania. Polarized Within Ourselves – Armenia. June 2019.
Julber, Lillian. Difficult to Understand – Uruguay. July 2019.
Kanunova, Nigina. Role of Polarization in the Life of an Individual and Society – Tajikistan. July 2019.
Montano, Osvaldo. Progress in the Face of Polarization – Bolivia. February 2019.
Protić, Aleksandar. Linguistic Balkanization as a Means of Polarization – The Balkans. June 2019.
Ranaldo, Mary. Social Polarization – Italy. April 2019.
Romano, Mavi. Censorship and Cultural Survival in a World without Gods – Spain. January 2019.
Sariñana, Alejandra Gonzalez. Student Movements – Mexico. March 2019.
Sekulić, Jelena. The Polarizacija of Serbian Culture – Serbia. June 2019.
Sem, Sebastião. Brandos Costumes – Portugal. July 2019.
Sepi, Andreea. A World of Victims and Perpetrators? – Germany and Romania. February 2019.
Sevunts, Nane. The Era To Close – Armenia. March 2019.
Skobic, Alexandar. The Loss of Identity – The Balkans. April 2019.
Sitorus, Rina. Polarization in Politics: All a Cebong or Kampret – Indonesia. March 2019.
Spirito, Julieta. A Thought about Polarized Insecurity – Argentina. April 2019.
Valenzuela, Monica. Adults and Children – Peru. April 2019.
Vuka. Extreme Immunity to Functional Tax and Judicial System – Serbia. March 2019
Wallis, Toni. Walls and Resettlement – South Africa and Angola. February 2019.
Williams, Jazz Carl. Unfinished Episodes – Spain. May 2019.
CW 31 – Turkey – Seyit Ali Dastan
CW 32 – India – Sanjay Ray
CW 33 – Russia – Anastasiya Zakharova
CW 34 – Canada – Maha Husseini
CW 35 – Spain – Virginia Sanmartin Lopez
CW 38 – Turkey – Peren Cakir
CW 37 – Armenia – Hayk Antonyan
CW 38 – Italy – Sara Deiana
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed