Don’t bother giving me your opinion
Your opinion does not matter unless you preach in an echo chamber.
Opinion, especially of the political type is sterile in a global, ideologically balkanized society.
Waste no time trying to convince others with your political or religious “truths”. No one will listen.
The world is in a state of ideological chaos that prevents people, who are ideologically aligned with the Left or the Right, to hear you.
It is an impossible task to have people leave their ideology aside for a moment to listen to what you have to say.
Leftists want everything free, and it must come from the “wealthy middle class”, no matter what it takes. Right wingers will defend their religious extremism all day long and claim religious discrimination if someone does not want to listen to their God.
Our way of thinking is no longer rational or based on facts but on toxic ideologies.
When we feel very identified with a position, the facts do not make us change our mind.
When two people talk about politics, they often resort to the facts to defend their position and show that the other is wrong.
It is not something that usually works. Sometimes it is even counterproductive.
Republicans supported the war in Iraq because the mainstream media pushed the lie of Saddam Hussein having WMDs, but when shown proof that it was a lie, Republicans did not change their minds. They were too brainwashed by the media to be able to recognize the facts and change their minds.
The same thing happened on the Democratic side when going after Trump on the Russia collusion hoax. People were so mentally toxic by all the lies the media told them, that even after Trump was exonerated from baseless accusations of having colluded with Russia, Democrats still insisted, and continue to do so, that Trump stole the 2016 election with the help from Vladimir Putin.
When someone has strong convictions about a topic, it is very difficult for an argument to change his mind even if it is a proven fact.
Most times, people get even more annoyed when presented with the proof they are wrong, which makes them cling to their ideas with even more force.
Instead of critically analyzing the facts, they always have excuses at hand: “that correction is incorrect”, they say.
The rejection of differences, just for the sake of it
Changing your mind is not as easy as it may seem.
Sometimes we believe that we are rational people who judge ideas and political proposals based on their advantages and disadvantages, but the most usual is that we identify with a position that we usually inherit from our parents, our group of friends or our education.
This position helps us to evaluate the facts and opinions that come to us, which we accept or reject almost instinctively.
Moral reasoning is above all a posteriori search for reasons to justify the judgments that have already been made.
The facts are important, of course, but, most people only accept truth only if it fits into the reality they want to be true. If not, people label that truth or those facts as “irrational, crazy or stupid.”
People do not necessarily vote for their personal interest, they vote according to their identity, according to their values. They vote for people with whom they feel identified. That is a trap because anyone can say anything people want to hear to capture their attention and later their vote. This works like a charm on the ignorant masses.
Identity is another factor that influences when maintaining a dialogue about politics. Political opinions work as badges of belonging to social groups.
When identity is shared, arguments tend to be more persuasive. But when you consider that the other person is from a different group it is easier to reject his position.
For example, voters of the American Republican Party were more likely to stop thinking that Barack Obama was a Muslim if the person who corrected them was someone they considered to be from their group.
Polarization in social networks by eccentric personalities and political ideologues
Polarization in social networks is especially true when we have firm convictions on a subject.
But there are issues about which we are not so sure and we remain open to other ideas. That is why it is good to have access to many different opinions and perspectives.
The main way in which we change our mind on moral issues is by interacting with other people. After all, we are very bad at looking for evidence that contradicts our beliefs, but others are good at doing it, just as we are good at finding mistakes in the convictions of others.
However, sometimes we do the opposite. In social networks it is easy to surround ourselves only with people who think like us and isolate ourselves from different points of view, not to mention that algorithms often reinforce this tendency creating the so-called “bubble filter”.
Bubble filters favor a polarization that is potentially dangerous for both democracy and social peace since it makes dialogue and debate more difficult.
That is why it is not surprising that politicians have often used social networks to create conditions for the effects of polarization.
They create echo chambers, that is, groups of voters that reinforce their ideas and remain immune to the exchange of opinions.
Instead of looking for points in common, sometimes people lock themselves in a political identity impervious to the ideas of others.
Instead of seeking dialogue and trying to understand the point of view of others, people end up rewarding rumors and fake news on Twitter.
There is no other way but going back to civility.
Dialogue and exposure to other ideas are enriching when it is friendly and respectful. Otherwise, it ends up polarizing the debate even more.
One way to take care of the tone of the conversation is the so-called principle of charity, or the willingness to develop our arguments taking into account the best version of the position of our opponents.
The best version is the most defensible or, at least, the one that does not assume that our opponents are in moral or intellectual bankruptcy.
It is about starting from the fact that people who do not think like us are not evil, or idiots, or misinformed, but, like us, want what they consider to be better for society.
To use this principle, experts recommend expressing in a neutral language the positions of those who think differently and articulate in the most positive way the reasons that support these points of view.
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Luis R. Miranda is an award-winning journalist and the founder & editor of The Real Agenda News. His career spans over 23 years in every form of news media. He writes about environmentalism, education, technology, science, health, immigration and other current affairs. Luis has worked as on-air talent, news reporter, television producer, and news writer.