By Katy Temple | Editor in Chief
We all know the saying “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” and if your family is anything like mine, someone chimes in with “It doesn’t even roll.” This is absolutely and positively 100 percent correct in my case.
If you get my mother and I in the same room, you’ll probably hear us say the exact same thing at the exact same time with the exact same inflection. It’s terrifying. The fact that I’m going into journalism in the footsteps of my father and grandfather also attests to the similarities that run in my family. I am exactly half of my mother and half of my father rolled up into one stubborn, yet passionate and determined person.
Regardless of your family dynamics, you know that you have that ONE cousin. You know the one I’m talking about– the one that rolled so far away from the tree that it either mutated on it’s way out or rolled through some GMO’s and accidentally turned into an orange.
Whatever your political views are, this cousin has views that are the complete opposite. Not only are they drastically different, but they aren’t actually constructive to any discourse either. This cousin is led by blind ignorance and misinformation that logic, reasoning or even fact can’t change.
This is the cousin who picks fights at family gatherings, the one who comments on all of your social media posts accusing you of being a racist Trump supporter or a little snowflake depending on how the political dynamic is, and definitely the one who could manage to turn a puppy video into a family-wide comment war.
So, how do we deal with this cousin when the rest of the family is more concerned about you calling them a moron and less concerned with the fact that they’re a maniac? Excellent question. My most recent answer has been to stir the pot simply because I think it’s hilarious to track the series of phone calls that follow.
The more rational answer would be to block them, but what fun is that?
Just last week, my cousin– my ONE cousin, started a comment war with my very accomplished journalist of a father on fake news and Chick-fil-A. Now, think what you want of media biases and media framing, but know that my family is NOT the one to try to argue with about fake news because we have lived, breathed, sweat and bled journalism for over 80 years collectively.
I absolutely stirred the pot and I’ll admit to it. The best part was either when I said “I’m so glad God blessed me with the family genes that gave me morals and basic decency,” or when every single one of my dad’s editor friends jumped in.
Sure, this was some funny encounter that will lead to more awkward family obligations and maybe my graduation party will end up on Ellen or something considering one half of the family is currently mad at the other half. But more importantly, this made me realize that there are people in this world who simply don’t want to hear that they’re wrong. How do we, as people and as a society, get through to the people who are blinded by their own ignorance?
Simple. We don’t. There is only so much we can do to try to educate, explain, rationalize and inform. You can send links to articles, present well thought out logic and reasoning with an infinite amount of support, but someone who is so set in their ways doesn’t care. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Now, is this something that became more evident in the aftermath of the 2016 election? I think so. Is this a political or social issue? Probably both.
Let’s be real, no one likes hearing that they’re wrong, but nine times out of 10 we can hear it and adjust accordingly and hopefully participate in enough discussion that serves the greater good and continuation of personal growth, whatever that is.
However, there are people who think they’re right just because they exist. Now, we could track this back to early anti-feminist ideals of men being right because they’re men and women being correct only if they prove themselves with references and cross references and cross references for their cross references, but we don’t have the space for that.
The truth is, we just live in a place and a time where people are unwilling to listen to one another. We put up walls, we remove ourselves from difficult conversations and rather than really stopping and listening to someone who has a different opinion than us, we resort to name calling or sheer lack of participation.
This is detrimental to our sociopolitical climate right now. Part of what causes a society to evolve is constructive civil discourse– the discussion of ideas, the building and evolution of opinions. That’s how people and society grow and form their own thoughts. We’re currently stuck in this trance of “I’m right, they’re wrong, shut up,” and it’s not helping anyone.
Sit down and talk to someone. Have the hard conversations. Talk about the heavy topics. Read news stories that maybe have a bias opposite to yours. Take your wall down. Maybe someone will actually say something that either adds to your pre-existing thought process or even change your mind.
And one more thing. If you’re reading this and thinking “Wow, I don’t have a cousin like that,” then I’ve got some bad news for you…
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