Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Divisive Nature of Politics

Take a glance at your facebook or twitter feed.  If you're feeling particularly ambitious, go to a public space and pay attention to the number of people talking politics at the moment.  For the first time that I can remember, my own world has been entirely set against a backdrop of politics, and even my own mind is not safe from this, current events and politics have been gnawing at the back of my head since months before the election, and it's safe to say that I'm not alone.

We live in a time of great access to a number of platforms, from Reddit to Twitter and Youtube comments to facebook comments.  These websites offer varying degrees of anonymity for people to share their opinions on.  However, they all offer one thing: there is no person in front of you to immediately hear or see what it is you are posting.  This has led to a great deal of people posting things for everyone who has added them, even people on the other side of the political line that they care about, are able to see.

Though facebook itself hasn't released any numbers, polls have found that around 18% of people polled have blocked, hidden, or removed people for their political postings, and that people who consider themselves liberals are twice as likely to "silence" the other side.

I would call this division a form of modern idia: in that this split is a removal of conflicting opinions, and the people who hold them. These groups of people who listen only to members of their own side, sometimes referred to as "Echo Chambers" are groups of people who agree that simply bounce the same ideas off of one another.  While these people haven't socially cut themselves off in all regards, staying away from "the other side" is unhealthy, and I believe is the reason for so much of the aggression, rather than activism that I have seen on both sides.

To deny a different opinion is to side with Plato and the "objective truth" that we were so happy to ridicule in class, but I think that truly taking in both sides in such a turbulent divided time is difficult, even for me.

I would hope that this is an appeal to consider all ideas, even those that you disagree with, and not to demonize an entire group of people for their opinions, political or not.  With a bit of open-mindedness and decency, there is no reason that our relationships with decent people should be damaged simply due to differing opinions.


Lecture 1/24/17 & 1/12/17

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