What ever happened to the middle of the road? by Bob Lowry

Happiness Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

By Bob Lowry
Our world seems to be one of extremes. Extreme weather, extreme politics, extreme religious positions, extreme Internet hacking, extreme diets, extreme, extreme, extreme. Things seem to have gravitated to the edges of whatever the subject may be.

Maybe it is because of the nonstop intrusion of technology into our lives. In order to break through to be heard or seen, something outrageous has to be said or filmed or posted. Even if based on fact (whatever that means today), a simple, quiet presentation will slip beneath the waves without a trace.All of this brought to mind a phrase that seems quaint and pretty much irrelevant anymore: middle of the road. An online dictionary defines it as

  • not extreme politically 
  • entertainment that is ordinary and acceptable to most people, but is not exciting or special in any way.

 

The definition of middle-of-the-road entertainment sounds a bit judgmental to me. “It is not exciting or special in any way” certainly implies boring, and unimaginative. I disagree. I grew up in a time when “middle of the road” was satisfying and could be exciting. It was safe, but not pablum.

There was “middle of the road” music – songs and artists that the whole family could listen to together. Politicians and political parties wanted to be perceived as middle of the road so large blocs of voters would not feel alienated. Movies were often marketed as family friendly, or one mom and dad could send junior to see without worrying about its content. Though the phrase wasn’t used in this context, most restaurants served MOTR food, comfort food, that satisfied the majority.

Time for an important caveat before I continue: the MOTR mindset had its disadvantages. Those looking for something out of the mainstream had a problem. Those not included in society’s definition of being “normal” had a struggle. Racism and sexism flourished while most of society turned a blind eye. Diversity was a foreign concept.

So, I am not suggesting a return to the time of Beaver Cleaver. What I am wondering is why being middle of the road in almost anything is considered wimpy, wrong, almost a dirty word (or phrase). If a choice in politics, religion, entertainment, family structure, or lifestyle isn’t closer to the edges than the center it is deemed defective.

In our drive to be all inclusive of everyone and every thing, we have actually shut out the middle of anything. Pick a position and fight to the death. Vilify anyone who doesn’t agree with you as the devil’s child. Question their sanity, loyalty, intellect, and do it loudly and continuously.

One of the “rules” I learned during my years consulting radio stations was the if you tell someone something long enough he believes it. If the client radio station said “We are #1 at Work” often enough, listeners would begin to think of the station that way, regardless of whether it was the #1 station people listened to at the office or factory. Perception becomes reality.

I think that applies today to in almost all parts of society. The loudest voice, the most extreme position, the largest disconnect from fact, becomes the new truth. The concept of truth becomes relative.

I just wonder if we’d all have a more Satisfying Journey if being middle of the road was not so uncommon, or at least OK.

By Bob Lowry

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