Why the obvious is not so obvious

I downloaded the Medium app today. Like most personalized feed apps, my sign-up process included choosing from a list of topics in which I am interested. I wondered as I clicked “social justice” “women in tech” and “refugees” and bypassed “Donald Trump” and “sports” whether or not someone looking at my long list of selections could tell that I am a progressive millennial. They probably could.

Most of my progressive millennial friends are also interested in LGBT+ rights, our current cultural climate, and personal stories from people like themselves. These are all things I selected as wanting to see on my feed.

This process is a perfect example of how we as a culture digest our news now. Our Facebook newsfeeds are limited to the things we want to see, courtesy of the “hide” button. Our Twitter feeds are full of only people whose opinions we deem valuable enough to solicit. We curate the news we want, and in an age where news and entertainment are almost inextricably linked, that means choosing the facts we want.

This phenomenon also explains, for me, how I can see the obvious rationale in my decisions, and not understand why a person on the other side of the political aisle could not see things the way I do.

For example, it makes perfect sense to me that if your business is in trouble you do not hand over the keys to someone who has bankrupted their own business multiple times. It makes perfect sense to me that when there is legislation being passed regarding women’s rights, you don’t leave the decision in the hands of someone who has a long history of misogyny and accusations of sexual assault against women. It just makes common sense to me that you don’t elect, as the leader of a widely diverse country, someone who has exhibited so much racism and xenophobia for as long as we have listened to him.

These things just seem obvious.

So when people who have different political opinions from mine, and people that I know first hand to be intelligent, well-read individuals don’t see these obvious realities the way I see them, I have to ask “why?” Why are we still being told, by people who can see, hear, and read with their own senses the atrocities being committed against women, against refugees, and against the poor, that we need to “trust that [45] knows what he is doing” and “just watch and see what happens?”

The answer is pretty obvious, and yet I couldn’t see it. (How’s that for irony?)

If you have an iPhone with the news widget enabled, click to your homepage and swipe right until your notifications pop up. You may see the weather, and, if your widgets are set up the way mine are, below that a list of recent articles from many of our major news outlets.

Here’s how mine looks right now:

ABC News and CNN, two news agencies that I recognize can be skewed toward liberal bias, but whom I generally trust for information, are reporting on some major executive orders that 45 has recently signed. FOXNews is still talking about something that happened on Twitter. They’ve been talking about it for five hours now.

So if your only input (or your primary input) of news comes from FOXnews, your hearing a lot about a Twitter feud, and very little about the atrocities being leveled at desperate women overseas. You’re hearing a lot about petty arguments on social media and very little on where ridiculous amounts of federal tax dollars are headed for no reason other than racial bias.

When you curate your news, this is what you see. This is what you get. Welcome to the bubble.

Progressives don’t come out winning in this situation. My unintentionally curated news reports didn’t tell me that pro-life women had been shouted down and harassed at the women’s march – but my conservative friends on Facebook saw that information in their feeds. That’s important information for a feminist to know. That’s incredibly important information for modern feminists across the country to know as we attempt to move forward in solidarity. But I didn’t see it.

We have to find our way out of the bubble. We have to find ways to intentionally combat the curation of facts that crosses our field of vision. Otherwise, we sink deeper and deeper into our respective safe spaces, oblivious to the humanity of the other side.

45 wants us divided. His administration wants us divided. The wealthy in our government right now profit on our division. We have to combat that division by standing with each other, by listening to each other, and by pulling our heads out of the sand.

Next time Medium or any other app asks me to choose my interests, I’m going to make a concerted effort to pick interests I normally wouldn’t. I’m going to make an intentional decision to select topics I don’t usually care about. I’m going to cast a broader net. Will you do the same?


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