I’ve taped the recent news from all views — MSNBC to Fox — and while watching I marvel at the various perspectives of reality.
As a former English teacher and newspaper advisor, I wonder how today’s educators are grappling with facts when they become “facts,” and truth that becomes “truth.” How do you teach in today’s multimedia environment when “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on,” as Churchill noted decades before social media became part of our everyday lives? What masquerades now as “truth” can be broadcast instantly around the world. Real “Truth” can’t compete.
So what are our choices? Do we avoid this historic moment in our nation and turn off all electronic devices? Do we refuse to read any articles, magazines, books on this looming “constitutional crisis” we are facing? Do we ignore or refuse to engage in discussions or debates about our current political situation because it makes us feel uncomfortable? How do we effectively navigate the coming storm with friends, with family, with our community, and with our nation? Truly, I have no answers.
But I know that cognitive dissonance is real. When our strongly held beliefs are challenged, we all tend to defend what we believe to be true. That’s why people who “spin” information have become so prevalent and powerful. Since we believe our beliefs are true — and we want to be consistent with our beliefs — anything that confronts us outside our “known truths” makes us feel uncomfortable, an internal dissonance that we seek to sooth as quickly as possible. People who can explain away — spin — any uncomfortable facts, helps us feel better. Those who offer us “alternative facts” and reaffirm our beliefs are one of us, the people who are right. Those who think differently are not us — and become people who are “them,” people who should be left behind, ignored, or even vilified.
This is why we’ve moved so easily as a nation to political cognitive cable bubbles — we seek out “news” that’s consistent with our beliefs. We seek out people who affirm us, who help us feel we are connected to a like-minded community, a tribe, a family. People who help us feel we belong. This helps us feel better in a world that can seem so complicated and chaotic and uncaring.
So, without offering any answers, I’m holding out my hand to those who think differently from me. I’m reaching out to my family and friends — and to you — to say, let’s talk. I’m listening. Johanna Kremer resides in Loveland. She owns Nautilus Communications & Design and works from Studio 125 at Loveland Art Studios on Main