[Editor’s Note: This post’s title was changed on September 16th from “if you’re a conservative, tell me which liberals you read: if you’re a liberal, tell me which conservatives you read.”]
I was born and raised in Canada and really didn’t start paying attention to politics until I moved to the US, so most of my understanding of politics comes through the lens of American politics. Watching the Democrats and the Republicans fight (bicker?) year after year starts to get intolerable. As polls indicate, many American agree with this sentiment.
Part of this is a result of our natural inclination to seek out opinions that confirm our own previously held beliefs. That is, if one is more liberal, they are probably more inclined to watch MSNBC and/or read the New York Times. Similarly, if one is more conservative, they are probably more inclined to watch FOX News and/or read the Wall Street Journal. There’s no “good” or “bad” here, though I would caution people on watching FOX News.
So, if we know that we have a tendency to seek out opinions that confirm our previously held beliefs, it would behoove us to intentionally seek out opinions that we know are counter to our own! That sounds a lot easier than it actually is — especially in today’s world of RSS, Twitter, Facebook, and personalized news.
Not to pick on Facebook, but the friends you have on Facebook, more than likely, share your political affiliation. It’s just natural for us to befriend those people who think like us and even if you have a few friends from the “other side,” the news that they share on Facebook will most likely: a) get drowned out by all your other friends’ sharing news; or b) won’t be elevated to the top of your newsfeed because you tended not to click on the links provided by these friends.
While I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with it, I do think that there’s something that we should be doing about it. If you’re a conservative, there are a critical mass of people out there who think that your opinion on issues of the day are wrong. If you’re a liberal, there are a critical mass of people out there who think that your opinion on issues of the day are wrong. What are you doing to try to understand why they think your opinion is wrong?
And yes, there are things that you can do.
Lifehacker proposed some ways to do this:
- Get random reading content delivered to your inbox
- Automatically get different points of view for articles you read
- Randomize your start page
Head on over to the Lifehacker article for more details and specific suggestions (for your start page). There’s one more suggestion I want to make (as it’s something that I do): Twitter. Instead of just following/reading news from people/accounts that I know are similar to my previously held beliefs, I have sought out those accounts that often discuss the issues from a perspective that is not native to me. This way, I’m able to read about the news from an entirely different perspective and from one that I may not have considered were it not for someone giving words to it.
So, I ask: if you’re a conservative, tell me who are the liberals that you read — if you’re a liberal, tell me who are the conservatives that you read.