As most of us have heard, some of the political divide in our country over the last year has been attributed to what we're seeing on our social media streams or what we're listening to on the TV or radio.
The more targeted the social media algorithms, the narrower our circle of online friends. We're seeing fewer posts of people unlike ourselves, potentially thinking and believing differently than us. With more conservative and liberal leaning press outlets available, we now have more options to watch or listen to only the news with a slant to our liking. Even worse is the increase of fake news articles purposely meant to derail the truth, distract us from real news and disparage certain people.
This might have made us more comfortable and happy little campers in our own "thought bubbles," but what has it done for us as humans, as persons of a broader community? Although we can cheer or mostly agree with our like-minded friends and tailored news anchors, how has that helped us individually or as a society?
Yes, we're able to commune with our like-minded close friends and family or television sets and radio stations. We're able to confirm there are others like us who believe in the same values, find out about news or events that we want to read or attend. Yes, we get that sense of belonging with that close network.
On the flip side, what are we not seeing or hearing about that might be really important to our own lives? What news is being covered on other stations that might be relevant to our own livelihood, health, rights, government, business, schools? Is anyone concerned that they're potentially in the dark about what's actually happening in our world? And how many Facebook friends have you "unfriended" just because you disagreed politically?
We're now not only disconnecting with online "friends," but also separating ourselves from family members just to avoid the conflict of a potential political argument. How is it helping our world to disconnect from each other, especially those who think differently than we do? Diversity of thought has been proven throughout history to launch paradigm shifts in society, cultural movements in our communities, and build innovative projects in business. Let alone, create communities living in peace.
So what do we do? How do we get outside our thinking limited to our own perspective?
Watch and read varied news occasionally- see a perspective from a different channel or station to be as fully informed as possible.
Reach out to "unlike" friends and family - ask questions of your family and friends rather than making assumptions and judgments. Find out what their values are behind their beliefs. Why do they believe the way they do, and how might we be able to find common values we share?
Only with fuller information and better understanding of each other will we be able to create a better society.
To better understand how your state legislature works and those who are doing the work, join us for the premiere of our new legislative documentary, "The Last Bill, a Senator's Story," on March 18th at the Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton. There are two showings: 12:15 p.m. and 2 p.m. For trailer and tickets, go to www.lindanewell.org.
Linda Newell, of Littleton, was recently termed out as the state senator for Senate District 26 and is now educating people on how to understand and influence their government. She may be reached at Senlindanewell@gmail.com or senlindanewell.com or @sennewell on Twitter. Send her your thoughts and questions.