Stop Unfriending People Over Politics
'We need to engage in more dialogue right now, not less'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2016 6:39 PM CST
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   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(Newser) – "Indiscriminately blocking or hiding the voices of those you don’t agree with does not silence them; it only deafens you," a cognitive neuroscientist at Duke University writes for Slate. Rosa Li argues that in the wake of the election, we need to not "ideologically self-segregate" on Facebook like we've been doing in the past. "If this election shows nothing else, we need to engage in more dialogue right now, not less," she says. A study in 2012 found 18% of people had unfriended, hidden, or blocked someone on Facebook over politics. Li believes that number is probably higher this year. Humans get a jolt from positive feedback, so it's no surprise Facebook users curate their experience to maximize it while minimizing negative feedback.

But that's a problem, according to Li. "Our drive to only share information that appeals to similar others promotes social conformity and political polarization while providing the illusion of consensus," she writes. "Every time we shared a post reinforcing whichever side we agreed with, a flurry of likes cemented the fact that we were right and the other side was wrong—or downright evil." Li says we need to find a way to see people on each side as human individuals—visiting the profiles of people who post things you disagree with helps—in order to broaden our perspectives and come together. "Through empathetic interactions with those from the other side, we can reach through our bubbles," she writes. Read the full piece here.
 

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