We all experience that cringe-worthy moment. Great Aunt Matilda at it again with her crazy Tea Party theories. Cousin Jerry constantly hashtagging #FeeltheBern. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, we all face the inconvenient truth: others don't always agree with us.
It's becoming easier than ever to avoid hearing or seeing a perspective of the world you don't agree with.
By creating your own virtual media bubble, you create your own slanted view of the world. You close your mind to what's out there, and worse, begin to fear it. So I challenge you, no matter who you'll vote for: get outside your bubble. Break your bias.
Some of you may say, "I don't have time to know what's going on in the world."
You and I both know that's not true. We make a choice every day to read an article about refugees or the 10 most hilarious fails. We live in an age of information that's at our fingertips. Our parents had to look everything up in a giant encyclopedia. We can google it in an instant.
Carve out 3-5 minutes as you start your day and grab your coffee to read one article about something that interests you. It doesn't have to be political. Have a long commute? Listen to a cool podcast as you hum along in traffic. Get curious. It pops the bubbles.
Still protesting? Grab the Skimm. It'll make you laugh and keep you informed in your inbox each morning.
Most media outlets are pretty clear where they tilt. To make sure you get the most complete picture of what's going on in the world, build your library of information from more than one source, like the New York Times AND CNN. Reading one gives you only part of the picture.
Or you could go completely neutral and read Al-Jazeera English or BBC. Whereas most media outlets here do their very best to carve out their own bubble of readers, many news outlets around the world do the opposite. I spent the fall of 2012 leading up to the election in Switzerland, and it was the most informed vote I've ever been able to cast.
If traditional media just isn't your thing, accelerate your news cycle. I follow these accounts on Twitter so I know what's breaking when. Rather than waste your time with talking heads and chatter, grab the headlines and then decide for yourself what to read more. (see above).
Take this example above. Nearly every other news media, particularly in the U.S., reported this event as a "liberation." Here, BBC puts quotes around the phrase, as it's too simplistic to fully capture the situation. Understanding what's real and what's not can be difficult, particularly if you let yourself believe what you hear. Know that it's not the whole story.
Make Your Own Decisions
We all have bias. We can't avoid it. What we can do is take the time to think about what we see, hear, and read, and who says them. Today's news cycle is so fast that there's less and less time for fact checking. As a writer, it's safer to pick one biased viewpoint and cater to it.
As readers, we have to be more aware.
If you want to bury your head into the sand, sing "LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" our new media landscape allows you to do that without even thinking.
The hard part isn't being informed. The hard part is understanding where you're being informed from and what that means for how you view the world.