The news you watch can tell others who you’ll vote for. It can shape your opinion of how to vote and the way you vote shapes which news you follow. Social media even tailors your news feed so that you see more of the stories that you like and share. You can create a social media experience that doesn’t disturb you with uncomfortable facts. This dangerous situation makes us all vulnerable to emotional manipulation from unseen sources.
Divisions are fostered by the news we follow. Conversations are discouraged by inflammatory rhetoric.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
Thankfully, we each have the resources we need to think for ourselves, make informed decisions, and build meaningful relationships across our deepest divides.
- You can talk to people you care about who will vote differently than you do.
- You can research news stories to get a bigger picture.
- You can ask thoughtful questions.
Ask a friend, family member, or colleague who you know disagrees with you to swap a news source with you. You pick a favorite news source for them to follow. They choose a news source for you to follow. If you want to do more you once a month you can choose a story to highlight and discuss from your news feed and once a month choose a story to highlight and discuss from their news feed.
Even though you and your friend disagree on important things there are also core values that you connect on such as caring for children, security, being respectful, and personal responsibility. If you can articulate your common values it will be easier to listen to the differences that divide you.
You could start the conversation by saying, “I know we both care about and disagree on other issues. I’d like to understand your perspective better and I’d like you to understand a little more about why I think what I do. The News Swap Challenge is one way we can learn how to talk to each other more effectively so that we can find better choices and get better results for each of us and all of us. All you need to do is to pick a news source you trust for me to follow and then follow the news source I trust. If you want to discuss any stories, let me know, otherwise let’s just read what is important to each other. Here’s a blog to give you more information https://wordpress.com/post/healthyconversationblog.wordpress.com/154.”
At the beginning of your post state that this is part of the News Swap Challenge to help us talk respectfully about our differences and divides. You may want to include a link to this blog.
- Speak up for yourself without putting others down.
- Use “I” statements and encourage others to do the same. I believe… I’m committed to… I’m concerned about…
- Pause and consider before you react.
- Check the facts with one source that you agree with and one that you disagree with.
- Write out your response in a Word document before you post.
- Edit for facts, grammar, ethics, and respectfulness before you post.
- Listen, learn, ask generous questions and encourage others to do the same.
Prepare for Push Back
Controversial actions and thoughts will get negative comments on social media. Be prepared! Wait to post until you have the energy to respond respectfully. If you’re feeling raw, don’t post. Taking a step back to read and learn can be an important, world changing choice.
Have a script ready. Here are some possibilities. They won’t work in every situation but they can help you decide ahead of time what is authentic for you.
- “Please listen, learn, and ask curious questions.”
- “This is about understanding another’s point of view not starting an argument.”
- “What do you want to understand?”
- “Understanding helps us change behavior. Ridicule makes it harder to change.”
Give yourself some escape plans.
- Set a time limit on the discussion. When you’ve reached your limit say something like, “There’s lots to think about here. I’ll get back to this later.”
- If you start getting triggered you can say, “I’ve got some errands I need to get to. That’s it for now.”
- If others are getting triggered you could say, “Wow, I didn’t realize how this would affect you. Let’s table this for now.”
This simple challenge will broaden the news you see and humanize an opposing view. It can help you speak with more clarity and confidence. You don’t have to be a victim of manipulation. You don’t have to fear differences that divide us. You can learn how to help us talk to each other, learn from each other so that we can make choices that work toward the best for each of us and all of us.
You can get support for this challenge by joining the Courage Cluster. Click here for more information and to sign up http://conversationstrategies.com/services. Sign up by the last Monday of the month at noon to join the conversation!
You can get daily words of encouragement from Everylight’s Facebook page by clicking here https://www.facebook.com/everylight.