Friday, April 1, 2016

The Filter Bubble and Dissoi Logoi

I think my filter bubble is more of a filter screen, a screen with a few bigger holes in it. A lot of the various things I “like” on social media in the news media realm are definitely on the conservative side of the spectrum. I don’t like very many things that bring in a liberal perspective. That being said, I have a significant number of friends that I rely on to give me that outside perspective. I let them pick and choose the articles from the liberal end of the spectrum and I like to read them, sometimes with an eye-roll, sometimes not. I think this system gives me confidence that I will find substantive liberal material, rather than the kind that simply spews anger back and forth. I can trust my friends to
When it comes to unfriending or “unliking” something, I feel like I have been relatively nice (for lack of a better word) about it. I never unfriend any of my liberal friends due to their political views, save for one when I was rather young. He attacked my faith and I didn’t want to have to worry about him doing it again. However, a few years later I reflected on it and I regret my decision; it was rather childish. While I rarely have any liberal pages liked to be able to unlike, I do find myself unliking conservative news sources when their commentary becomes particularly fiery or rage-filled. Only being angry doesn’t solve problems in my book. I do consider myself to be very conservative on most issues, so to say that I “unlike” conservative news sources, bodes well to the openness of my filter bubble.
Obviously, there are still a substantial amount of things that don’t make it through my filter bubble. But, I do like hearing the other side because I think it gives me a clearer picture of what the other side values and why they value it. I think I get a borderline healthy amount of material from each side.
Dissoi Logoi is essential to compromise and compromise is essential to maintaining political balance. People need to be able to hold healthy and substantive debate without becoming the ravenous beasts that some people are known to be. They need to be able to see the other side as someone who also wants to have a better future. That way they can see the oppositions’ ideals as valid arguments rather than dismissing them entirely. I think just the opposite has been stimulated by our increasingly networked society. Now people are able to pick what news sources they like and if they only choose those that align with them, they will become increasingly less sympathetic to the cause of the other side. It’s not just the fault of the people; the algorithms that pick what articles people see are also just as responsible.
The increased polarization has created and stalemate in Congress. Congress, whose approval rating is exceedingly low, tries to do what people want and people don’t want compromise. They say they do, but what many post online seems to say otherwise. Since Congress needs to compromise to get things done, they don’t get a lot done which further lowers their approval rating. It’s a vicious cycle that no one seems to understand.
Clearly, the increasing polarization is a huge problem… maybe. For the most part, I would agree that it is a problem that needs to be solved. And I think the solution is to reunite the political factions. Obviously, it will never be all fine and dandy but, at least to a certain extent, working on compromises would help immensely. The reason I say maybe, however, is that there is a chance, though rather small (and I certainly wouldn’t necessarily advocate it), that there would be a benefit in finding a peaceful way to separate the factions into independent nations or even perhaps separate governing bodies within one nation… wait a second… we already have that. Yes, I think that there may be some merit to increasing state power if the political polarization continues to increase. To go to the extreme, perhaps we need two separate Americas where people can decide how they want to live but where changing to either one is open to citizens of both, at least somewhat; all you have to do is move. This would certainly be many, many years down the road, but if things don’t get better, it may be required before things get deadly.

An area where I can engage in dissoi logoi more would be in general political conversation. While I do love to listen and engage in political discussion, I sometimes only search for ways to bolster my own cause. It’s not always true but I do have a hard time thinking about the background of someone else’s cause and why they think the way they do. I think my political discussions could use a healthy serving of understanding. And I can start by spending more time pondering what’s running through their head. Unfortunately, there is little time to do this in a back and forth, but doing so before and after will lead to even healthier discussion in the future.

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