“Why is it so easy to declare that others have been brainwashed and to remain so secure in our certainty that we haven’t been? Why do we believe we hold all of the answers? Why on earth would we expect people to listen to us when we don’t want to listen to them?”

There’s always more than one good answer to questions like these, but it seems obvious to me that much of it boils down to plain old arrogance. Some people genuinely believe that their judgment is unassailable, and that the only sides to an argument are their side and the “wrong” side.

In reality, there’s usually more than two sides in any debate, and it’s rare that just one side has all the correct answers. But as you sort of alluded to in this piece, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing yourself as some sort of divinely omniscient and infallible being incapable of ever getting it wrong when you surround yourself with like-minded people who keep telling you just how right you are about…well, pretty much everything. And that’s something we’re seeing a lot more of these days.

If you scroll down this page from Pew Research Center, you’ll see the following line: “The shares of Republicans and Democrats who express very unfavorable opinions of the opposing party have increased dramatically since the 1990s, but have changed little in recent years.” So what happened in the last 10 or 15 years that made the problem so much worse? I’m guessing it’s Twitter, Facebook, and so on.

To be clear, I’m not scapegoating social media. In fact, I’m working on a piece right now about how we ought to stop blaming social media for the “fake news” problem. What I am suggesting, though, is that instead of using social media to expand their horizons and interact with new and different people, a lot of folks are doing the exact opposite; they’re seeking reassurance through relationships with political allies who will never, ever challenge them in any meaningful way, and so the incentive to stop and reflect on their own positions and beliefs is virtually nonexistent.

At least, that’s my take on it. But I could always be wrong!

Anyways, good post! Keep up the great work! =)

Outer space enthusiast. Japanese history junkie. I write about politics, culture, and mental illness. Disagreement is a precursor to progress.

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