The 3 reasons:
- We get our information from completely different sources. No matter where you get your news from, if the person to your immediate right gets theirs from a different source, chances are you are not going to agree on the hot topic issues currently being discussed in the news. Vanessa Otero created the following fun graphic to illustrate the biases of various news sites (also available on her site):I’m not necessarily suggesting that Otero is 100% accurate in her characterization of news sources, but the graphic does demonstrate the divide that news sources create. If you have an opinion it is easy to find a news source that agrees with that opinion and encourages you to think the person sitting next to you right now is wrong. This divide is dramatically deepened by the use of social media as a news source.
- Social media has become a main source of news for many people. On the surface this is fine. However, because we have more options for news sources than before, it is easier to seek out sources that agree with us. Furthermore, algorithms on our social media platforms feed us news that we are more likely to click on, reinforcing our current biases. And then, there are the comment sections, where the prevalence of ad hominem attacks and incessant trolling encourages us to fight for our beliefs and disparage anyone who disagrees.
- Through social media, people of different geographical locations are connected. While this has been a major success of social media, it has its draw backs. The needs of one community are not the same as another. So now that we are all connected we find it hard to understand why one community might advocate for something that has nothing do with us. Being so connected has desensitized us to violence and aggressive behavior, since we hear about that behavior constantly. Additionally being connected to millions of people online, it is easy to find a group that agrees with us instead of having to have difficult conversations with people closer to us, but who might think differently.
What can be done?
We all can do with a bit more understanding and acceptance. To my clients, I am always preaching self acceptance together with understanding and love for ourselves. It is easy be hard on ourselves and difficult to accept ourselves and where we are in our growing process. I would apply the same to the person sitting next to you. Your opinions may be completely different. And that is okay. You do not have to agree. I would ask for more understanding on both sides. They are different than you. They have had a completely different life with completely different experiences that have led them to be who they are today. And that is absolutely okay. You don’t have to agree. But you do need to treat them as you would want to be treated.
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