Over the years, I have come to accept the fact that I do not see everything as it is. I cannot expect myself to be right or have a perfect view on subjects much bigger than myself. But, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around the schism in our country and the blatant problems we face because of it.

Today I just want to take a moment to say that you can count yourself part of the problem if you are any of the following: 

1. Habitual viewer of anger-porn like Fox News, Nancy Grace, the Blaze or the like. These shows do nothing but capitalize on your biologically driven fears and instincts while also appealing to to your desire for homogeneity in our society (however you define it – racial, cultural, religious, etc) and the will to power in your dna. They are anger porn and fuel the worst parts of you.

2. Habitual viewer of the smugness parade on liberal networks like msnbc. These programs do nothing but appeal to your desire to sew a good guy badge on your scout uniform and feel like you’re better than the guy on Duck Dynasty. These shows are little more than a celebration of smug, masturbatory self-satisfaction, and they fuel negative appetites in you.

3. You are the type of person who thinks 1 and 2 only apply to the other guy. 

4. You are the type of person who thinks either 1 or 2 are monolithic and offer no value. There are a spectrum of shows on either network and not all of them are as partisan as a Hannity or Maddow.

5. You are the kind of person who forms their opinion based mostly on who says it rather than what they say, you get to sit in the front row at the part of the problem awards. If you find that you react instantly with a defense or refutation depending on which politician said a thing, well you’re part of the problem. Look at your google history to decide if you are guilty here. If you google, “how much has Obamacare caused healthcare costs to skyrocket,” instead of something like, “health care costs in the US by year,” then you are just looking to fuel your already ingrained ideas rather than answer a question. 

6. If you either have a poor understanding of relevant statistics or make no effort to look into actual statistics and trends when considering the issues we face as a country, you are definitely part of the problem. A good tell for this is if you use Chicago as an example for a dangerous city when there are several metro areas in the country where you are far more likely to be a victim of violent crime. The key is using per capita numbers rather than raw number of instances. 

7. If you believe anything you find in an infographic without checking the source or fact checking the information contained therein, you owe it to yourself to build a better relationship with information and you owe it to people you speak with to communicate the truth.

8. If you repeat a headline you read in a conversation as a fact without reading the attached article, you are definitely a big part of the problem. If you read the article and use the claims without actually fact checking the content or looking at the counterarguments, you are also part of the problem.

9. If you think that either side of the aisle has all of the answers, welcome to the part of the problem party. You’re on the vip list.

10. If you think a problem facing a country of over 300 million people has an answer that fits into a talking point and a 10 second sound bite, you’d be wrong for the most part. Though, some complex problems do have simple answers, those are often the things that get solved quietly.

11. I was going to make this a nice round list of ten, but I had to include two more. Anyone who watches a television program with three to five people framed up, screaming over each other while a host sits in the middle smiling about the massive check they’re going to cash, those people are also killing our national conversation. Watching those shows brings them money and reinforces the network’s decision to run garbage like that. This is the way the History channel went from actual documentaries to shows about pawn shops and ancient aliens. You get double part of the problem points if you skip watching the actual show and instead watch youtube clips from those shows with any of the following words in the headline: owns, destroy, embarrass, smash, or any similar terms referring to what is ostensibly a debate in words more fitting a street brawl.

12. Finally, if you think the other side is widely represented by the loudest morons on social media, then you’re a big part of the problem. Neither side is monolithic, nor are they as extreme as their loudest advocates. If you want to decide how much you fit into the broad brush club, ask yourself how often you’ve called someone a nazi, communist, libtard, racist, socialist, or any similar term.

If you are guilty of any of the above, and you don’t think it is a problem, the list has probably angered you, but you are messing up the country. Stop doing that.