Our country is divided by hyper-partisanship and polarization, and extremist voices can dominate political conversations. The way we interact, get our news and have political conversations can either exacerbate extremism or lead to productive conversations that heal partisan divides and seek solutions.
Studies show that if we converse only in echo chambers with people who agree with us and avoid political conversations with people who have a different opinion, we actually fuel extremism. According to More in Common’s 2018 study on tribalism, 77% of Americans believe that our differences are not so great that we cannot come together. But coming together and overcoming polarization requires, branching out in our conversations and news sources, talking, listening, having empathy.
YOU can change hearts and minds, heal polarization and help Utah and American work towards solutions to serious issues. Here are a few steps to get you started:
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Step out of your echo chambers – Are you a conservative or liberal who enjoys rant groups on Facebook, political discussions in like-minded social gatherings or with friends or family you agree with? Spend a week or two away from these echo chambers and proactively embrace a different ideological setting for your political conversations.
- Use a variety of news sources – Nonpartisan analysts study news sources for media bias and false news and rate them on an ideology scale. If you are accustomed to getting your news from left or right leaning sources, find sources in the middle, or mix and match with sources that lean slightly in the other direction. Open your mind to the concerns of the other side. Digest media with an understanding of media bias (and how it is different from news that reports on something you disagree with). Read more about media bias and how to identify it.
- Listen – Pursue conversations with people who disagree with you. Don’t try to convince them. Just ask questions and listen. Find the places where you can agree. Try not to judge others for their beliefs – try to understand their beliefs. Where are they coming from, why do they believe what they believe? What values do their beliefs represent? Put yourself in their shoes. Check out this TED Talk on “Why it’s worth listening to people you disagree with“.