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Forget Politics, Here Are 10 Things That Really Divide Americans

Americans aren't as divided over politics as the pundits say. But they disagree on everything else.

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6. Hotmail


A long time ago, seemingly in a galaxy far, far away, a Hotmail address was as standard as a Gmail address now seems (you’ll find out in a second why I say “seem”). Now, though, when you get an email from a Hotmail address your first instinct is that it’s a spam bot.

Occasionally, of course, a Hotmail message comes from an actual person. In fact, it’s more than occasionally — it’s fairly often, which means lots and lots of people still use the aging Web-based email service as their primary conduit of online communication. Indeed, as  CNETreported in 2011, Microsoft estimates that “Hotmail is the world’s largest Web mail service, with approximately 350 million users.”

If you don’t use Hotmail, you may not have known any of this — you may have assumed that as a Gmailer, you were in the email majority and the Hotmailers in the minority. That just proves how separate the email camps are from one another — and how divided this part of cyberspace is. There are Hotmailers, and there is everyone else — and rarely do the two cross paths.

7. The Wire


I’ve never met someone who hates “The Wire,” which is, hands down, the best television show ever made. However, I have met plenty of people who have no idea what “The Wire” is. These encounters are what I imagine meeting an extraterrestrial would be like — there’s almost no way to communicate because we come from such utterly different worlds. I say “McNulty” and they look at me like I’m crazy. I say “Bunk” and they think I’m politely saying “bullshit.” I refer to a man’s “code” and they think I’m talking about a secret number sequence.

We are, in short, speaking entirely different languages because there are “Wire” junkies, and there’s everyone else.

8. Comicon


Having just broadcast my radio show  live from the blockbuster  Denver Comic-Con 2012, I came to realize that the term “Comic-Con” no longer just connotes the convention franchise hitting cities all over America. The word itself is now an all-encompassing term for the whole science fiction and fantasy world. And in America, you are either fascinated with or at least appreciative of Comic-Con, or you loathe it and/or think it’s worthy of ridicule.

Both sides of this divide know this to be true — they both know there’s no middle ground filled with people who only sorta like Captain Kirk or merely dabble in “Lord of the Rings” esoterica. So, for instance, Comic-Con backers know that in mixed company, if they mention their excitement about the event itself — or their affinity for science fiction and fantasy generally — they may get lambasted or ridiculed. Likewise, Comic-Con haters know that in mixed company, if they bust on Comic-Con — or “Tron” or “Star Trek” or “Lord of the Rings” — a Comic-Coner might start cursing at them in Klingon.

My theory is that this split has something to do with the nature of science fiction and fantasy. Because of its settings, these genres are probably the most difficult genres in which to produce entertainment content that viscerally connects to an audience’s emotions. Simply put, the believability factor is hardest to achieve in places like deep outer space, a different dimension, a mythical past, or the distant future, because none of us have ever been there.

Citizens of the World of Comic-Con clearly have a better willingness to suspend their disbelief and go with the story. Those who live outside of the World of Comic-Con don’t have that willingness. Thus, the chasm between them.

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