This week the UK has been in political turmoil.
It’s two easy words to type: political turmoil, but it encapsulates so much chaos and confusion.
There’s disinformation, there’s bias, there’s complexity. There are people on every side who think that their opponents are “the bad guys”. It’s manageable one minute, and devastating the next.
And newspapers eat up every twist and turn to make profit from your attention.
There’s no consequences for a newspaper in telling you a twisted, better-looking “truth”. There isn’t public outrage over the lies that newspapers peddle, because the same newspapers shape our society.
People cannot rebel against what they believe to be the bringers of truth.
Any newspaper can be misleading. The danger is when newspapers are read with full faith, creating stories that are repeated verbatim throughout the country, despite being wrong, or deceptive.
It isn’t easy to have your own genuine opinion in this climate.
If I could have one wish this week, it would be that people start learning to form their own opinion, and expanding their minds.
These are my 5 suggestions on how to broaden your mind to different opinions, without giving in:
Find different opinions.
If a headline challenges you, and looks totally wrong, you should lean further into it. If you don’t expose yourself to different opinions occasionally, your views become increasingly niche and out-of-touch. This isn’t purity, it’s an intellectual game of “divide and conquer”. If you don’t want to give pages advertising revenue, consider using a proxy instead such as donotlink.it.
Know your “Enemy”
Reading or listening is the best way to do this. Take your time to find out what your “opponents” have to say, specifically why they care about it and why they don’t have your viewpoint instead. Knowing the difference gives you a solid understanding of the barriers that might need to be crossed.
Stay safe – Avoid wasting time arguing
Engaging in a passionate online debate or fighting with your co-workers is not the best use of your time. If you look for different opinions, there’s a potential for clashes. Make sure you have an exit strategy if things get too heated. People should be able and encouraged to read and listen widely, to make up their own minds.
Be prepared to adjust your opinion
A 2D perspective will not give you all of the facts. Contrasting a different opinion might reveal a weakness that your preferred narrative doesn’t sufficiently address. For example, if a majority are telling the narrative, the minority could be being ignored. The solution is to acknowledge both sides simultaneously, and balance them out.
Respect unique views – including your own.
If you put effort in to fact-checking and absorbing a wide variety of sources, you will begin to see a different angle than any of the media sources that you read – your own. It is far more valuable than any off-the-shelf opinion you can get online.
The goal is not compromise on a weak-tasting “middle ground”, but to build a nuanced and complex opinion that relates to your lived experience. It won’t be easy to summarise or argue it in plain “facts”, but it improves your information and is reflected in your choices. When our opinions are genuine like this, we’re less likely to be in conflict with each other, and more likely to get what we want, together.
If we can achieve this, we would be one step closer to a better “democracy”.
Thanks for reading, please comment or message and I’ll definitely get back to you!