fbpx

Can the uncomfortable learning prevent political polarization?

With the ongoing pandemic and the American presidential election approaching, I find it interesting to view how politically polarized our world has become. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) being so profoundly integrated into our information society, people are now being more radicalized, and the gap between opinions is increasing. 

Let us start by defining polarization, it is the political distance separating partisans. In other words, those who have certain beliefs surround themselves only with those who think and do alike. Today, it is easy to choose what newspaper you want to read or what Instagram influencer to follow, filtering out information and people you find disagreeable. But the problem with this is that you will then only get to understand one point of view.

Today, it is easy to choose what newspaper you want to read or what Instagram influencer to follow, filtering out information and people you find disagreeable.

One example of this that I have recently discovered is how I and my brother’s political views and perspective of the world differ tremendously. Growing up with the same parents, in the same environment, and going to similar schools, we have still ended up with different political opinions. How come? By following entirely different news channels and people on social media, we have not received the same information, thereby ending up in different categories, not seeing what the other one receives. Naturally, this will lead to my brother hanging out with people who think like him, which will confirm his interests. Indeed we have our differences. Not only do we have different sexes, but we have, at times, also lived in different parts of the world. But at the end of the day, even though I am aware of our diverse experiences, I find it fascinating but also strange how we disagree on a lot of different topics.

By following entirely different news channels and people on social media, we have not received the same information, thereby ending up in different categories, not seeing what the other one receives.

At first, my instinct was to believe he was not well-read or too young to understand, simply because I believe my opinions must be right. But then I remember how democrats think of republicans or the other way around. People tend to assume that their beliefs must be right, and therefore the rest wrong. I do believe that people are in general reasonable, but the dynamic has changed. The world I see may not be how the person next to me sees it. Think about it. How varied is your group of friends? Do you agree more on certain topics than disagree?

At first, my instinct was to believe he was not well-read or too young to understand, simply because I believe my opinions must be right.

So, what lies behind this?  Much can be explained with AI, which has dug its claws into us. You hear people say that they are afraid of how AI will affect us in the future. Though I say, you should be frightened now. AI is already significantly integrated into our society, and it is controlling us with their algorithms. But remember, when we speak about AI, we do not talk about a person, on the contrary, AI is a tool. Therefore it can sometimes be hard to accuse AI itself when it is the people who are using AI that should be held accountable for their actions. But since AI is still very new, the laws and regulations are still not set in stone, and therefore it can be hard to point fingers.

That means that the facts we see on our platforms, that we call news, are actually just our own opinions reflected back at us. And that is really dangerous.

But the question is, how come my brother and I have such different views? Considering AI is a tool that knows everything about you, it can, and will, target you and feed you with the things it believes would interest you. That means that the facts we see on our platforms, that we call news, are actually just our own opinions reflected back at us. And that is really dangerous. Everyone is living in their own bubble and therefore has a different perspective of the world. This has also started to divide the world into more black and white zones instead of grey ones. It is either ‘build a wall’ or ‘open the borders’. People are inevitably becoming more segregated since they do not have access to unbiased information. Fake news is everywhere, it is hard to know for sure what real news is anymore.

Everyone is living in their own bubble and therefore has a different perspective of the world.

Politcal polarizarion by Olivia Vallda
Life in a bubble has also started to divide the world into more black and white zones instead of grey ones.

With more segregated societies and less room for agreeing to disagreeing, we now find ourselves in a world where people are also becoming increasingly sensitive and easily offended. New topics such as cancel culture and cultural appropriation are encouraging to call people out and so-called ‘’cancel’’ them if they do something you disagree with. But how would a democratic world work if people don’t talk to each other and do not respect each other’s opinions?

But how would a democratic world work if people don’t talk to each other and do not respect each other’s opinions? 

The only solution to this is to start getting out of your comfort zone. Even though you despise or reject the ideas of the others, listening and learning will give you a better understanding. I admit that, at times, I can get frustrated with my brother. But listening to him and trying to see things from another point of view makes me understand him and other people like him better, even though I do not always agree. All issues are complex, and they always have more than one side. But the uncomfortable learning will give you a better perspective of topics. I have friends from both the left and the right-wing, and funnily enough, none of them understands how I can be friends with other people that have such different views. But that is precisely the reason why I like having friends with such different approaches to life. Having different viewpoints and arguments on topics forces me to think and make up my own mind, breaking out of my comfortable bubble.

But we cannot solve problems if we do not talk to each other. Therefore, you are responsible for ensuring that you also see the world that the person next to you sees, especially knowing AI is present and influencing information. 

What now? No one would like to think that his or her opinions are wrong. And who am I to decide what is wrong and what is right. But we cannot solve problems if we do not talk to each other. Therefore, you are responsible for ensuring that you also see the world that the person next to you sees, especially knowing AI is present and influencing information. Maybe following a new site that you wouldn’t follow or talk to your radical neighbour will perhaps give you an insight you did not have before. We also need to take things less personally. No one likes to get offended, but instead of calling people out, we should move to a speak-up culture, where everyone isn’t afraid of what the other one says. You will not always be right or wrong. But you will be ignorant if you choose to live your life in your happy-problematic-free-bubble. I know that my brother is very intelligent and knowledgeable. Different opinions do not define how smart one is. Have my brother and I changed some of our thoughts after discussing it? Yes. Have we always come to the same conclusion? No. Though I am so grateful to have him in my life, always challenging me and making me see things from another perspective.

Maybe following a new site that you wouldn’t follow or talk to your radical neighbour will perhaps give you an insight you did not have before.

Olivia Vallda live in London where she studies Politics & International Relations with Philosophy.

Välkommen till ett magasin för dig mitt i livet.

Moderna Livet är en plats fullt med drömmar och ambition. Man vill komma framåt med fart. Samtidigt vill man bevara sin hälsa, ha en fungerande vardag, och ha goda relationer.

Vi hjälper dig att hälla strössel på livet med inspiration och experthjälp från personer och företag.

Har du ett företag? Vi hjälper er att berätta er story i ett modernt sammanhang.

Klicka här för mer information.

Relaterade artiklar
Premiär för nya realityserien “Modell för en dag” med Hannah Widell och Amanda Schulman