Them By Ben Sasse
Them By Ben Sasse is a dive into our deepening divide in politics and life experiences. Sasse is a U.S. Senator from Nebraska and a gifted writer and speaker. Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal starts out explaining how loneliness, often exacerbated by social media, is dangerous and deadly.
We live in an ever-expanding high tech world and with technology comes a lot of unintended consequences. We are paradoxically more connected to people all over the globe, yet build less lasting friendships. Not only is church attendance declining, but community involvement of all sorts is vanishing.
The book includes a great analysis on how people are no longer rooted to place anymore. This problem will likely continue to grow until it abruptly changes. People move around from place to place, job to job. But as more people can work from anywhere, and more people spend all their time on devices, will it even matter where they live? Couldn’t people live in pods and get all their entertainment from devices, work remotely, etc.
Instead, I hope more people will want to revert to a more pioneering lifestyle. Take up gardening, go hiking, explore the woods, ride horses.
Sasse makes great points about the outrage culture on both sides. He also points out that deep down, people have core things in common even if their political parties are on opposite sides. While this sounds reasonable, the reality of today differs greatly. The political parties are way too far away from each other.
Look at how many major institutions are against one party: social media platforms, big tech companies, educational institutions, mass media. When one ideology controls every aspect of someone’s day, there is no longer even a place for basic dialogue and debate.
So while Them is an intelligent book, it is already in need of a major update. Sasse is extremely smart and there is nothing wrong with his writing or thoughts. I enjoyed the book and agree with much of the problems of “why we hate each other”. Unfortunately, the rapid pace of cancel culture has increased dramatically since this book was published. The “how to heal” part is still largely missing.
I read this book at the same time as Dan Crenshaw’s Fortitude. There are a lot of similarities in these and I recommend reading both to really hammer down the many points discussed in both.