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Tools of Tribalism

We get a lot of choice in America — certainly one of the best things about our nation. You get to choose where you eat, you can vote, you can worship — or not — as the spirit moves you — it’s great! It’s like when you were a kid and your parents always got to choose for you, and then you became an adult and the world was opened wide! What a country.

Since technology has become such a huge part of many Americans daily lives, the freedoms have extended there, and the consequences of availing ourselves so deeply of these freedoms might warrant a course correction in how we use it.

Today, not only can you choose foods and shops, etc., you can choose which websites to visit. You can choose what news stations to watch. You can even choose your virtual friends, and your virtual followers. In America today, you can so tailor your exposure to things that it might be possible to never come across a person who doesn’t like and dislike the same things you like and dislike. If we let them, our technology can become a tool of tribalism. Except in a public school.

As a history teacher, I submit that one of the best things about this nation is that it offers a free public education to anyone within its borders. In those public spaces, the children come from different backgrounds, live in different kinds of homes, eat different things, etc. It does make it difficult for teachers, at times, who need to mitigate some of these differences — like who has the latest jeans vs. who doesn’t, but that is just a reflection of the America they will inherit.

It is likely easier on the adults in their lives for kids to go to school with children who look, think, act, and dress nearly the same way, but I consider it a patriotic duty for our children to be exposed to the reality of America. It is not the same for everyone. There are people who still live on communes and some who live in penthouses. There are some who never eat hamburgers!

And that’s America.

And that is wonderful.

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