Most Americans from all parts of the political spectrum are level-headed and reasonable people.  But, you wouldn't think that by listening to the volatile, sensationalistic, and deeply divided rhetoric that is coming at us from all angles.  These are some suggested resources for helping us to (re)develop our ability to talk to one another, especially when we disagree.  


Flip Your Feed

We tend to gravitate toward political opinions that resonate with us, but this can be dangerous.  Our social media news feeds tend to be dominated with our own views, creating an echo chamber of polarized information with very few perspectives from other places on the political spectrum being brought up for consideration in your view.  


Choose to follow and subscribe to legitimate and professionally (not polarized fake news sources) curated news items and opinion pieces that challenge your thinking.   To help you choose, consider using this infographic that shows where various news outlets fall on the left-right, low quality - high quality spectrum.   If you lean left, choose some outlets on the high quality leans right section and vice versa.  Avoid garbage news. 

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Do Your Research Before You Pass Along News

Fake news is when an ultra-liberal, ultra-conservative, or click bait group creates a fake or drastically misinterpreted story in order to create a frenzy or to drive online traffic.  These techniques, usually propagated online, are deliberately designed to polarize and further push us away from being able to understand perspectives different from our own.   If it sounds absolutely outrageous to you, it was likely designed to do just that.   They are designed to get an emotional response from you so that you will get angry and share it with your friends in disgust.  


Instead, do your research on every piece of news to make sure that it can be verified by high quality professional journalistic sources (see graphic of news sources above) or to be sure that what is being stated matches a primary source.  Research can be done quickly in two ways:  1) URL - if its odd or if it is a slight change from a name you trust, it is likely fake.  2) verify it by running a search on it to see if it is covered in a legitimate and professional news outlet - if not, likely fake.  Snopes has an article on spotting fake news as does NPR.   Do your research before you believe or share news.         

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Reflect on Your Worldview

The process of finding common political ground requires personal reflection.   When we realize which political worldview we gravitate toward, we can consciously start to decide to open ourselves up to other political points of view.   The Institute for Cultural Evolution is a think tank dedicated to evolving the way we think about our democracy.   They have created two interesting tests that help people to reflect on their worldview and on their likely tendencies toward political polarization.   Take both of these quizzes to help you reflect on your biases so that you can be more open to entertaining ideas from other perspectives along the political spectrum.

  1. The Worldview Questionnaire.   What is your worldview? Take this 7 minute test and find out which “values frame” describes you best.  Click here to learn more.

  2. Political Polarization Test.  Take a 2 minute test to find your political position and see suggestions to help depolarize your thinking.  Click here to learn more.  

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