I love freedom of speech. It’s a beautiful thing. However, this doesn’t mean all dialogue is worth having. I don’t take the ideas of a Nazi anymore seriously than someone who believes the Earth is flat. I don’t think it’s worth my time to debate such absurdity.
As the Trump regime continues, I’m also losing patience with everyone who still supports Trump. I know that’s a sadly sizable part of the country so I’m conflicted on the most practical approach to this problem.
Extreme polarization isn’t healthy for a country. Yet, I am losing interest in building any sort of bridges with Trump supporters. On this blog, I was happy to host discussions with people who hold different ideological viewpoints, but Trump supporters are now too much for me. I personally just don’t have the energy to explain to people WHY they should care about other humans. From a psychological and sociological perspective, I get why they hold these beliefs. Developmental factors, social groups, identities, etc. But it is very hard to change the mind of an extremist.
So then I’m left with the question, where to go from here? How can I best use my time to help our society become better?
Should I just talk to people I agree with and try to strengthen our “side?” In hopes that our “side” will win purely from a numbers perspective?
Should I suck it up and try to chip away at the beliefs of some Trump supporters even if I can’t get them to change most of their worldview? Are those small gains worth the attack on my mental health?
I have changed people’s minds before, but they have never been extremists. They are usually more moderate on whatever the issue was. So I am still open to talking to those who are more moderate, but I no longer care to discuss social issues with people who are so far away from me ideologically. It’s just not worth it. Kudos to other people who still want to try, but it’s not for me.
Instead, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing already. I’ll keep working on my PhD (which part of my research is about how bad ideas spread so I’m actually helping learn how to combat this issue from a scientific perspective) and I’ll keep teaching students. I’ll keep sharing the work of awesome activists and scientists on my podcast. I’ll keep blogging about current political events and social justice issues to spread awareness.
So I feel my time is simply better spent doing other activities that can help our society. It’s very draining for me to try and change an extremist’s mind. Maybe other people are better at it than I am and that’s totally cool. I also think that our society is slowly moving in a better direction and I want to help those taking us there. The vast majority of young people did NOT vote for Trump and he lost the popular vote by three million. I think Trump and his supporters are simply going to fade away on the wrong side of history.
Finally, I don’t consider my lack of debating Trump supporters to be any sort of echo chamber. Trump is the president. I hear his ridiculous ideas enough.