I recently stumbled upon a YouTube channel series this week titled "Middle Ground." Created by the channel “Jubilee," the ultimate purpose of "Middle Ground" is to bring together two different groups and/or different beliefs from far opposite sides of the spectrum and put them together for a period of time—asking them questions to kickstart conversations with one another and, essentially, somehow find a "middle ground".
So the ultimate question is, what is middle ground and how is it defined? Does simply 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? Seemingly, this series is trying to tackle this issue specifically through debates.
The specific video that caught my eye from the "Middle Ground" series was "Can Trump Supporters and Immigrants See Eye To Eye?" Huge clickbait title alert- hence why they got me! A significant part of the YouTube video is focused on Trump supporters and Immigrants, 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 early 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 the participants in the video that they still can share similar opinions with each other even if they are microscopic. While the intentions of the video is meant to show that these disagreements between each other can be left at the door, the discussions are way too short and lacking in substance for either of the two groups to discuss anything more than just 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. A true and authentic middle ground. 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 truly 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.
The term "middle ground" is often used inconsistently in politics today. Reaching middle ground in a discussion or situations implies that active goals or rules have been established to better a conflict and , essentially, attempt to reach a resolution. Shaking hands and hugging after empty chatter for 15 minutes is not a compromise. It's a veil—more or less to make you feel like a decent human being for respecting one's opinion. This type of middle ground does not solve anything. It only prolongs an issue until the tension is too intense that it can no longer be ignored. Clearly having a "shouting match" with someone isn't going to sway their deep-rooted opinions, but this series is child-proofing the real issues being discussed and playing them off as differences that we simply have from one another.
These are human lives on the line. Real people whose lives are greatly by the way you choose to interact, vote, and use your voice. I'm sure that these videos are a fun way to rile people up in the YouTube comments and show different perspectives, but it seems to just push this narrative that middle ground is reached by simply ignoring the other side and solely believing your own opinions. And that it is okay to have these opinions even though they actively are causing harm to several groups of people.
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.