I’ve been working on a post for several weeks all about the Electoral College and why it’s a good thing.
This morning, as I put the finishing touches on it to post, I stopped. I reread it. And I ultimately decided not to share it.
Not because of anything I wrote. I stand by it all. I DO believe the Electoral College is a good thing and I DO want to share my reasons.
But when I scrolled through Facebook and Twitter this morning and looked at some of the topics that are trending, I realized that there is no use.
You see, it’s possible that I could publish my essay and someone out there might read it and think, “Hey, there are some good points here. I should rethink my position.”
But, really, what are the chances that’s going to happen?
Nope. More likely, some of you will already agree with me and just nod along as you read. Others don’t agree with me and won’t agree with me and will tell me so. And most of you will just glaze over and not even read it at all.
Because the truth is that most people only read opinions they agree with, or that they want to fight with.
A few weeks ago, I was in a Twitter argument (because why not?) with someone I don’t know in person but with whom I have interacted quite a lot on social media. I know he and I disagree on a lot of things, but when people are respectful, I LOVE talking to people who see things differently.
Anyway, there were a couple of us talking about that oh-so-simple topic…Climate Change! Yay!
I won’t bore you with all the details of the conversation, but at one point, when we disagreed on a completely open-for-interpretation point, he told me to get out of my echo chamber.
Which, on the surface, sound like a perfectly reasonable thing to say when one is discussing issues with multiple viewpoints.
The problem, though, is that what he was really saying was, “Get out of your echo chamber and climb into mine.”
Because that’s really all most people mean these days.
It’s not that you REALLY want other people to be open-minded. It’s only that you want them to agree with you.
And now that most people get their news from social media, it’s much, much worse.
You see, those social media algorithms (particularly Facebook) are designed to show you the things you already like. They don’t give you different points of view, beyond what your unlike-minded friends might share. Which you subsequently hide because it doesn’t fit your personal world view. So you are only seeing one side of things. The side that agrees with you.
And now the War on Fake News is going to take us further down the rabbit hole as people just start flagging news items as “fake” even if they aren’t just because they don’t agree.
The point I’m trying to make in all of this is that hanging out in an echo chamber isn’t good for anyone and it’s definitely bad for everyone. We have got to start listening to one another. Giving each other the opportunity to speak their minds and to figure out ways to find solutions together.
The situation that actually set off this post today had to do with Glenn Beck and Samantha Bee, of all people.
Glenn Beck built a reputation and career on tearing down progressivism. He has been divisive and, sometimes, a little bit crazy. And he cries a lot.
Samantha Bee is super liberal and attacks conservatism. She is also divisive, but with a smaller audience.
Over the past year, Beck has gone to great lengths to stop Trump and to show people what he’s really all about. Beck has been trying to build bridges rather than destroy them. And it’s won him a LOT of enemies. Since so many conservatives suddenly think Donald Trump is the best thing that ever happened to us. But it hasn’t all been about Trump. He’s been really ramping up his charitable efforts, too. He’s truly trying to be the change he wants to see.
So, of course, people attack him for it left and right.
Because we just can’t have nice things. Or be nice people.
Anyway, Samantha Bee and Glenn Beck started trending on Twitter earlier and I checked it out because I’d heard that this interview was happening and I was curious how it turned out.
The haters were out in force. On both sides. Hating both of them.
For trying to come together.
People, we can’t do this to ourselves anymore. It HAS to stop. We have got to step out into the light and start listening to each other and educating ourselves and learning. We need to read good books and watch documentaries and learn history. And we need to share what we learn in good and productive ways. Not just by yelling at each other or preaching only to the choir.
We HAVE to get out of these echo chambers and engage with one another. It’s the only way this story has a happy ending.
If you’d like to see the Samantha Bee segment, here ya go. It’s about 7 minutes long and REALLY funny.