The Polarizing Problem

The ability to select out of balanced news into an echo chamber is a concern for reasonable communicators, or reasonables. It doesn’t lead to a respectful conversation. The echo chamber effect has made it harder for reasonables to enter the ring for fear of a disrespectful, dirty fight, which is a result of people opting out of balanced inputs.



We are used to this bell curve in the blue, one that shows a moderate majority, but in October, 2017 we inverted.


With the inversion came the increase of polarization. The echo chamber effect, only hearing the arguments that agree with one’s own values, encourages insulated ideals. Those ideals develop a false sense of comfort that bolsters biases and allows us to cut out what does not align with our values. Dr. Amit Sood, Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic and author says, “our [brain] system is biased to focus on the negative, threats, imperfections, [and] regrets.” When we meet someone for the first time, in seven seconds, we create a perception of them using our negative bias. Our negative bias kept us safe from potential threats and harm, which was important when saber tooth tigers walked the earth. As we evolved, we have less tigers—literal and perceived—to consider, but our brains still default to this outdated mode. What if we re-trained our brains to add an eighth second? What if in that eighth second we decided to question our negative bias to see if it was making a tiger where there wasn’t one?

Questioning our own beliefs or constructs, and considering what information we hinge them on, is vital to understanding others. Challenging known constructs is not a betrayal, it is a reflection that considers if a belief is still valid in our current circumstances. In his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson states, “We shouldn’t seek to find the ultimate ‘right’ answer for ourselves, but rather, we should seek to chip away at the ways that we’re wrong today so that we can be a little less wrong tomorrow.” Certainty solidifies the polarized individual, and if left unchallenged, will make the person obsolete. History reveals new ways of thinking through research, technology, and archeology. If we open our minds and not immediately label a change in thought as hypocrisy, then we start to repeal the polarized oppositions and move toward an appreciation for different instead of a fear of other.

The problem indicates a stalling in progress. If we aren’t willing to hear and consider another’s perspective, we miss an opportunity to grow and learn. If we stand by and allow people to stay in their comfortable echo chambers, then we will miss opportunities to make gains as a society. When we LACE UP, we actively engage in the full conversation, we start to build up the bridges between the two extremes, and we bump the middle of the bell curve up. The middle is indicative of the reasonables, which is where they will rise: in the middle of the ring, seen.