I recently stumbled upon a YouTube channel series this week called "Middle Ground." Created by the channel “Jubilee,” the purpose of "Middle Ground" is to bring together two different groups and/or beliefs from far opposite sides of the spectrum and put them together—asking them questions to start conversations with one another and, essentially, find a middle ground.
So the question is, what is middle ground? Does it mean accepting someone’s opinions although you disagree with them or is it conveying your opinion without seeming angry or stand-offish? Is it coming to a compromise or just talking in circles and not getting anywhere? That’s where this series comes in.
The video caught my eye from the "Middle Ground" series was "Can Trump Supporters and Immigrants See Eye To Eye?" Major clickbait alert. The premise of the video is focused on Trump supporters and Immigrants, obviously, discussing immigration in the United States. Their discussion is mostly focused on illegal immigration, refugees, safe havens and the travel ban created by the Trump administration in 2017.
In the 15-minute video, it’s clear that what the channel was trying to create is a space for beliefs to collide and interact with one another. It’s structuring the video with various questions of whether you agree or disagree with certain statements to get people to discuss. It’s also trying to show others that they may share similar opinions with the opposite side even if they’re microscopic. While the intentions of the videos are well-meaning, the discussions are way too short for any of the groups to discuss anything more than surface-level.
At the end of the video during final thoughts, it’s crystal clear that middle ground was not achieved between the two groups. The constant interruptions during thoughts, lack of understanding and the whole “my neighbors are black” schpiel doesn’t create a middle ground- it creates a ‘veil.’ I think for many, a middle ground is just being having a discussion with somebody, whether it be positive or negative, without it escalating to verbal or physical abuse. These six people "achieved" middle ground because they walked out of that room smiling and hugging each other. No thoughts were swayed, some didn’t listen to one another, and personal ideologies shined through to show that what they believed was underlying and had way more layers than shown in a 15-minute video.
Middle ground is an inconsistent term because it varies based on a person’s own definition. The term usually means that a compromise is made, but no compromises or shifts were made here. Hugging isn’t a middle ground, it’s more of a defeat. Middle ground doesn’t solve anything. It prolongs the issue until the tension of it can’t be ignored anymore. Obviously verbally attacking someone isn’t going to sway someone’s issues in something they believe in, but this series is child-proofing the issues being discussed. There wasn’t enough time, depth or freedom for the groups to talk, plus the fact that they might have been acting nice for the camera.
My point is that middle ground is a difficult thing to achieve. It involves argument, high emotions, and so on. I’m not sure what this series is trying to achieve, but you can’t achieve a middle ground in 15 minutes. You can’t achieve it by completely ignoring someone’s argument. Maybe this series is trying to show that "civil" discussions can be had with one another. Either way, these videos aren’t progressing anything. They’re just ways to rile up arguments in YouTube comments and make people type up seven-page essays that no one has the attention span to read. But man, aren’t they entertaining to watch?