5.4. Preaching to the Choir

It’s a shame that there are so many problems, and so many people genuinely concerned about fixing them…yet we rarely end up engaging with each other.

It’s a shame that there are so many problems we need to fix, and so many people who are genuinely concerned about fixing them…yet we rarely end up engaging with each other.

We end up consuming media biased toward our own point of view.

We talk politics with people who already see things our way.

We largely just hang out in our own information bubbles and echo chambers, and preach to the choir.

This isn’t simply a matter of people being stubborn. It’s a well-orchestrated process involving politicians, media corporations, and small-group dynamics that’s really undermining our ability to find common ground.

The science of politics has advanced a lot over the past few decades.

With billions of dollars spent by both Republicans and Democrats to generate highly sophisticated voter databases, polls, targeted ads, and focus group data…our two political parties know exactly how to push our buttons.

They know exactly how to frame the issues to drive a wedge between us, and get us most riled up.

As our politics have become more polarized, it’s become harder and harder to cover the news from the center.

Increasingly, if you try to split the difference between both parties…you just end up alienating both sides.

Media organizations, both big and small, have realized this. And just as skillfully as politicians have spent billions of dollars dividing us…the media has capitalized on these divisions by tailoring their news to fit our preconceived notions.

We like that.

It appeals to our vanity. It’s flattering to see a media organization rely on the same assumptions we do, blaming the same people we blame, reaching the same conclusions we reach.

They tell us what we want to hear…and we eat it up.

It’s a vicious cycle, because the more entrenched we become in our own way of seeing things…the more we want “the news” to report it that way. And the more we only consume “the news” we want to hear…the more entrenched our perspectives become.

Fixing this isn’t simply a matter of making an effort to seek out more diverse viewpoints.

That’s not a bad habit to get into, by any means. But the problem here isn’t with us.

The problem is systemic.

We, the people, are being exploited—through a really cynical application of psychology, communication, and advertising—so that politicians can win votes, and media corporations can turn a profit.

We, the people, are supposed to have the power in this country.

But we’re only powerful when we work together, when we have numbers.

And right now, all the political, economic, and social forces are expertly designed to drive us apart.

In this system…the politicians, corporations, and special interests win.

We, the people, lose.

I’m not going to tell you to stop believing what you believe.

But I am going to tell you that no matter what you believe…it is not in our best interests to let ourselves be divided like this.

We need to bust out of our bubbles. We need to build bridges. We need to get on the same page, in spite of our differing beliefs and opinions.

Our ability to wield the power we the people are supposed to have, in this democracy, depends on it.


This is the 80th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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