Last week Howard Dean and Ed Rollins stopped by for the Kalikow Luncheon called, “How Has Social Media Transformed Politics and Policy Making in 2016-17.” Although the group was supposed to talk about social media, the conversation seemed to focus more on how to talk to people with different opinions, and in some cases, facts.
The topic was guided by questions and comments from the crowd, one person for example asked about having conversations with people who have different opinions from their own. Dean, a Democrat and Rollins, a Republican both remarked about their friendship and their ability to talk about political issues with each other in a civil manner. Dean discussed that they understand they have different views, but in the end they try to find their common goals. Rollins talked about growing up in a Democratic household and how mad his father was when he found out his son had become a Republican. He also acknowledged his own relationship with his daughter and their differing views. In the end the conclusion they both came up with was that if you never talk to people with different opinions than you, you will never learn.
That’s when Professor Andrea Libresco brought up an interesting point, what if the people you are talking to have different facts from you? By different facts she meant differing opinions about believing millions committed voter fraud, (which did not happen by the way, and both Rollins and Dean said this.) Sounds crazy, right? Facts are supposed to be facts, but according to books like, “ True Enough: Learning How to Live in a Post-Fact Society,” and the way Facebook filters it’s content so you only see what you want to see, we are living in a pick and choose your facts America. Pick the ones that will agree with your sentiment and from what we’ve seen from the White House, maybe even make up your own.
To me, a Hofstra student and Center for Civic Engagement Fellow, it seemed Professor Libresco’s question never really got answered. But that’s because I don’t think anyone has a clear solution for what’s going on in America right now. The differing of opinions might just come down to the fact that we are getting different facts.
So, what do you do when someone says they think millions of people committed voter fraud? What do you do if you’re going into a conversation automatically assuming the person you are talking to is wrong and they are going into it thinking the same thing? This may sound silly, but in my opinion I think you should stay calm and listen, if they actually want to have a civil conversation with you, not an argument, then they too will listen. However, if they continue to want to argue and antagonize, your best bet is to let it go and continue educating yourself and that goes for any side. In a time where the media is being criticized left and right, focus on the sources. Focus on where the information is coming from, where the data is coming from, and do your research. Don’t believe everything you read and don’t read just one news source, read them all, even the other side. In the end, if you never know the other opinion you can never learn.