About a week ago, one of my favorite bloggers posted a simple, snarky, but significant comment:
“Wow, that picture you shared on Facebook just convinced me to change my religious / political affiliation, said no one ever.” – Rachel Held Evans
Its sentiment had been lurking in the shadows of my mind for quite some time, but I kept smacking it with a newspaper and telling it to shut up. No crusader wants to hear that his war is fought in vain. But let’s be honest – how much of an impact do all my links, pictures, comments, and blog posts actually make?
The answer was easy once I thought about my own habits on Facebook. I pay attention to the people who post things that interest me. Funny stuff is my favorite, followed by interesting news about your life, informative or offbeat articles, and cartoons/articles that fit with my political/religious worldview. I generally don’t watch your videos (too long) or look at your pictures unless they involve my children. If you’re generally negative, rude, or whiney or post lots of political, religious, or other stuff that I disagree with, I hide your posts. I figure many of you do the same. We’re not going to save the world through social media.
Most of us gravitate toward people, articles, and posts that confirm our beliefs and ignore the ones that contradict them.
Scholars call this tendency confirmation bias. We’ve already made up our minds on most issues, whether we’ve chosen a side or simply chosen to be neutral and not worry about it. The status quo is so much easier than carefully considering an opposing view. Let’s be honest – wrestling with something takes time and effort and risk. Changing our minds requires the unpleasant step of admitting, even if only to ourselves, that we were wrong.
I could write the most eloquent blog post in history, or share the most concise and powerful cartoon ever designed, trying to convince you of some position I hold. But unless you’re actively seeking to study that issue, you’ll probably either ignore my post or read it with a closed mind. If it made you mad enough, you might hide all my posts, quit following my blog, or even unfriend me. Despite all my talk about being open-minded, I do the same thing.
Photo Source: No Hope for the Human Race on Facebook
So…I shall attempt to piss off slightly fewer people in the days ahead, particularly on Facebook. I will still explore some controversial issues here on the blog, but I’ll be doing it more for my own amusement and/or as food for thought for my readers rather than an effort to change your minds.