Moment of honesty…
By sometime August 2016, I was done with the American elections.
All of the bashing from the candidates, my social media feeds littered with people verbally attacking & belittling those who opposed them, constant texts, emails & calls reminding me to vote…I WAS SOOOO DONE.
Especially for people who supported our current president-elect.
“He’s voting for Trump? No way!”
“I can’t believe she supports him after what he said…”
I found myself saying these things of people I saw on my social media feeds supporting a candidate I could not find the heart to even listen to.
I didn’t watch the 2nd and 3rd debates, I purposefully avoided election news for like 2 months and I intentionally didn’t click on headlines with the word “Trump”.
I would tell my fianceé, “Even if he doesn’t win, the fact that he has such a large platform to spread some of his intolerant beliefs will empower and enable racism, sexism, homophobia and Islamophobia all over America. He’s re-igniting these feelings in people and making them feel justified.”
I couldn’t believe a person like that had such a massive stage to propagate bigotry.
Eventually, I got to the point where I “unfollowed” and “muted” pretty much everyone who I saw on my timeline who posted something about Trump.
I thought twice about any of my “friends” who liked the Donald J. Trump page.
All the meanwhile, I thought I was in the right.
I thought I would just ignore this stuff I didn’t agree with until the election was over and then people would return to a semi-normal state.
Here’s what I didn’t realize, guys: I was becoming the very thing I thought I was fighting against…
An INTOLERANT, IGNORANT and JUDGMENTAL person.
As much as I tried to fight it, my mind made judgments on anyone who showed support for Trump. So much so that I thought the only way I could stay good-hearted was to ignore those who backed him.
But here is the digital world we live in that I want to explain to you (and the major point of this post):
By “unfollowing” and “muting” those who I didn’t agree with, I was consciously telling the internet to show me LESS of the stuff I did not agree with and MORE of the stuff I did agree with.
As a digital marketer, I know closely that the internet and best social platforms run off of algorithms.
Facebook has a complex algorithm that shows you more of what you like and less of what you don’t – it’s their way of ensuring you stay active as a user. Instagram, Google – they’re similar in that they cater to your interests and behaviors so that you see more of what they think you want to see.
In essence, Facebook, Instagram, Google and the internet caters to my (AND YOUR) preferences and gives me more of the information they think I like to see.
So I (AND YOU) sink deeper and deeper into my thoughts. They make me feel like I’m right.
I mention all this because what we see online is a big factor of how a lot of us form our opinion these days.
We get online to our social medias and don’t recognize that through algorithms, all of the content we see on there has been curated to please us, so we dive deeper into our own thoughts and reject opinions that differ from ours.
The content we see makes us feel like everyone else agrees with us – so we mostly see news articles that highlight the statistics we agree with, we only see the videos that spotlight the opinions we agree with.
My internet is different from YOUR internet that’s different from my 60-year-old white professor’s internet that’s different from Colin Kaepernick’s internet that’s different from Megyn Kelly’s internet…
It’s fascinating to me.
I honestly think that’s what blinds a lot of people from trying to understand multiple perspectives & working collectively to address systemic issues.
And I fell victim to it, too.
But now in the post-election aftermath, I’m realizing more and more that positive change rarely comes one side completely ignoring the beliefs, rationale and roots of the other sides.
Instead of people coming together after the election, it seems like many of us are distancing ourselves even further away from each other.
In realizing this, I’ve spent the past few days “re-following” and “unmuting” people who I digitally silenced during the election.
I’ve tuned in to Fox News to get a different view point on the news.
I’ve scrolled through some of Trump’s tweet replies to see why his supporters feel the way they do.
I’ve even had deep conversations with people who voted for Trump and listened to their rationale.
Here’s why (and here’s the reason for my LONG post):
Because It’s hypocritical and wrong of me to want someone to understand me if I’m not willing to understand them.
If I truly want positive change, togetherness and unity like I say I do, I need to put my actions where my mouth is and do my best to try to UNDERSTAND people who think differently than me.
Guys, now is not the time to solely surround yourself with like-minded people.
Yes, it’s great when we have people who agree with us and can strengthen our beliefs…but that’s a slippery slope.
That can lead to us being more entrenched and stubborn in our views, which will rarely end in unity.
And with the way social media and the internet is designed, it’s so easy to sink deeper and deeper into our beliefs.
NOW is the time to get around people who don’t agree with you.
NOW is the time to try to understand people who think differently.
NOW is the time to get uncomfortable and make the first step to understand your fellow brother & sister.
I’ve realized that I fought this the wrong way during the election season.
And let me state that I know some people out there do not feel the same way I do – they don’t want to understand me and they don’t want to empathize with me.
My goal is not to force what I think is right or ignore those who do not agree with me.
My goal is to seek and receive understanding.
If I want to be understood, it is my duty and responsibility to seek first to understand.
I encourage you to show the understanding you wish to receive.
PS: I want to add that this philosophy applies to so much more than politics – we can’t solely surround ourselves with like-minded people and expect to grow in our lives.
We need to intentionally get uncomfortable and take the opinions of those who don’t agree with us seriously – all of us.
This approach is contrary to what our nature tells us to do, but I’m in the opinion that the best leaders and people are those who seek first to understand (not be understood) in any situation.
How can you make the deliberate choice to seek first to understand in your life TODAY?
Let me know in the comments below…