Let's All Just Have a Pint
I think we've forgotten how to talk to each other. It's 2018 and we've...apparently...lost the innate, human, crucially important ability to share a moment with someone else without a small dose of judgment, scorn, or implied bias. I feel like I'm obligated to take a stance in order to be heard these days, and I'm not so sure I like that.
Maybe it's not that bad, but let me explain.
I work in the beer business. Beer has been big business for nearly 200 years in this country, and I'm proud to say that interest and conversation around great beer, with the rise of so many great breweries, is at all-time high (we're close to 7000 breweries at this point). Great beer pops up in more conversations than it ever has before and deservedly so...it's a massively interesting beverage that embodies much of the modern zeitgeist. Diverse, innovative, dynamic, and unique...a tribute to the hard work and creativity of every single person who takes part in the process and contributes their time, sweat equity, and skill to the constant evolution of the industry itself.
I love great beer. I love what it represents, and the doors it opens, and the flavors and aromas and styles, and the history, and the stories, and the innovation, and the pride behind every great pint...
But most importantly...I love how good it is at putting people on my radar. I've met literally hundreds of great people because of beer. Beer put like-minded people in my inner circle at the beginning of my career, and then quickly put not-so-like-minded people there as well. These people have added immeasurable value to the person I am today, and for whatever it's worth, I'm incredibly grateful for it.
For me, it all started with a pint of beer. The simple of act of sitting down and having a pint with someone else (or having a glass of wine, or whatever floats your boat) is one of the most important things we can do to understand, support, and grow with each other in a wild and crazy world. Being alive is hard. It really is. I get it. It's stressful, and confusing, and absolutely overwhelming at times. If we can all agree on something, I hope it's this. A dose of empathy for every single person to get your week started...the struggle is real.
I also recently read this article. And I read this one this morning too. Not an auspicious start to the week, and I generally try to be an overtly positive person. Suffice it to say that I wasn't feeling it when I poured that first cup of coffee.
I know it's not all doom and gloom. By many measures, we live in a world that's better than it was yesterday. There's less poverty, and disease, and famine, and war, and human rights violations, and institutional racism than ever before. Women are getting more and more seats at the table, and this is all a beautiful thing. We are, by and large, on a verrrry slow moving train headed down the right track. We should fight as hard as possible to keep it moving.
But I'm also getting nervous about the way we choose to interact with each other. It seems to be more contentious than it's ever been before. It seems like we try to rile each other up for the sake of it these days. Our politics would prove out that point. Our use of social media would also shine a light on that sentiment. It's black and white...right or wrong. You're the voice of a generation or everything wrong with it. You've done the world a favor or you haven't.
It seems like we don't talk to each other anymore. We tweet. We post. We like. We comment. We blog. We vlog. We praise one moment and troll the next. We live as anonymous internet snipers...taking quick and easy shots through a scope that blocks out 95% of the world in front of us.
We seem to have lost the rest of our perspective. We forgot about the rest of the scene outside of that scope.
We forgot to actually talk. We forgot to actually listen. We forgot to sit down and look someone in the eye, often times over a pint, and invite a new perspective into our world. Did we forgot about the importance of tone? Did we forget about the critical element of emotion in our speech? Did we forget about context? These are the triggers that make us human. These are the elements of true comprehension.
I don't think we completely forgot. I think plenty of people are willing to listen. But I think a lion's share of the issues we face in the modern world, from millenials feelings disconnectedto modern politicians shouting down the opposition with deaf ears...stems from a lack of conversation. This is not an old-man-get-off-my-lawn moment about the erosion of society due to the use of social media...I'm a user and I see a lot of value in it.
But we should cherish a new viewpoint. We should cherish failure. We should relish the moment when someone took the time to change our perspective on the world and they were actually successful in doing so. That's not a failure...that's a massive success. How often does someone actually change your mind on a topic that you feel strongly about? How often does someone present you with new facts and ideas, and in that moment, you actually revise your opinion based on those facts?
That almost never happens. We should appreciate the diversity of modern society, and use it to our advantage. Talk to each other. Listen to what we have to say. I promise...I promiseyou'll hear something worthwhile. Republicans and Democrats. Black and white. Man and woman. Light lager or Double IPA. I don't care how choose to slice the pie...it's all valuable when you take the time.
We used to do this organically...we built this great nation over pints. We decided to take the time to sit down and listen. We sparked a revolution over the community we shared at the pub. Millenials are leaving the pub in record numbers, and our on-premise business shows how challenging the bar business is these days...we don't drink beer at bars like we used to in this country. Ask anyone in the beer business and they'll tell you how hard they're working to prop it up.
There seems to be a correlation here. I'm not advocating for a society of people who drank like the founding fathers did, but I'm almost positive that the community the latest generation of consumers is looking for can still be found at some version of their local pub. Maybe the local pub is your living room, maybe it's a great local brewery, and maybe it's actually the watering hole around the corner. We should learn to talk to each other again. Make time for a couple pints and the chance to listen (in person) to someone give their .02. Disagreement is fine. Disagreement is encouraged. But flat out denial, based on ignorance, party lines, or the perverse pleasure of seeing someone else lose...that's un-American. That's just obscene.
Let's just have a pint. Let's lean into each other, find the common ground, and start building from there. Let's embody the best of the beer business, and each other, and find the unique voices, styles, and perspectives that lift us all a little higher than we were before.