The reason people are so passionate about politics is because they want to make the world a better place. If you want to make the world a better place, perhaps start by not calling 1/2 the country names, ascribing evil motives to them or demonizing them. This is the first election I remember when supporters of the candidate have been villianized as much as the candidate. I read it all the time.
I also read about people unfriending people because of who they are voting for – whether online or outside the computer. “They don’t hold the same worldview as me, so I just can’t have them around me.”
I’m sorry, but I don’t think we are going to solve problems by leaving half the country out of the equation. Our country was founded on open discussion of ideas. This is how we will make the world a better place. It comes from friends talking to friends respectfully and more importantly, listening.
People aren’t evil because they don’t believe the same way you do. They have a different set of filters with which they see the world through – past experiences, upbringing, what media they consume, their personality. It also doesn’t make them wrong and you right. We can’t be so arrogant to think we know it all and can see the future.
You also have to be aware about where you are being manipulated by the media and by campaigns. You are seeing caricatures of candidates. You are seeing narratives crafted by others. So anytime you see or read something about a candidate that you already have an idea about (from the media or campaigns) that fits the narrative, you believe it. Confirmation bias.
Campaigns are really, really good at spinning and creating narratives. For example, undercover video shows that Clinton operatives paid or got people to incite violence at Trump rallies and pretend they were Bernie Sanders supporters. That way they could create the narrative that Trump supporters are violent. If you are a Democrat, did you believe the narrative?
Wikileaks, maybe with Russian influence, has been dripping emails. Do we know if they are true or false? No, but if they feed into what you already believe about a candidate you are going to believe them. Confirmation bias.
If you believe every negative story about an opponent and disbelieve/downplay every negative story about your own candidate you are probably not seeing clearly. Like I said, campaigns are really good at this. People are not all good and all bad. If you think that, you are believing the caricature of a candidate, not the true person. Which is good news. Whichever candidate wins is most likely not going to be as bad as half the nation thinks.
Be very careful about sensational Facebook memes telling how terrible someone is. Be very careful of biased media (the stats are really shocking at what certain media will and will not cover and the time they give to stories). Fact check for yourself. Always question when you read something, rather than falling into confirmation bias. Assume you are being manipulated by experts. Things will be taken out of context or not what was intended or really a slip of the tongue.
Be awake. Be kind.
After this election we all need to come together. This will not happen if we don’t talk to each other or treat one another with respect.
Photo by Rebecca Siegel