I’m a big fan of trying to reduce polarized viewpoints through mutual understanding and civil dialogue. I’ve done this a few times on my blog with my discussion with people I disagree with on both religion and politics. Unfortunately, there is not much of an incentive to offer nuanced takes online. Click bait and outrage tend to dominate the most viral posts on Twitter and Facebook. Echo chambers form. Polarization grows. Nuanced, good faith discussions get far less attention.
A new social media website is trying to break this trend. Letter is a new website that rewards thoughtful discussion and hosts a variety of conversations. People write “letters” back and forth to each other in a long style format. So anyone can read a variety of nuanced conversations happening on a variety of topics, but you don’t have to worry about trolls getting in and ruining the discussion. Here is the About page from Letter’s website:
Letter is a platform for thoughtful conversation.
Since the advent of the internet humanity has never been more connected, and yet we remain divided on many of the important matters which shape the future.
We believe that thoughtful, good faith conversation is how ideas develop, spread, and take effect in the world—our mission is to advance the quality and impact of conversation.
Conversations in Good Faith
We ask that participants make a sincere effort to be fair, open, and honest. This means assuming good intentions of those you’re in dialogue with, rigorously seeking clarity before reaching conclusions about their positions, and being open to changing one’s mind in light of good evidence.
You can check out my conservation on Letter with my friend Michael by clicking here. Michael and I differ substantially on politics, but we always treat each other with mutual respect and actually learn from each other! Talking to people who you disagree with offers a great opportunity to reflect on your biases and expand your understanding of the topics you are discussing.
Again, this requires all people involved speaking in good faith, and that’s tough. But if Letter takes off, maybe there will be more social rewards for doing so and more people will make an effort to engage in good faith conversations with those they disagree with. Ultimately, it would be great to see an increase in nuanced conversations result in a reduction of polarization. We’ll see what happens!
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