Why No One Cares About Your Political Opinions (on Facebook)
Political conversations on Facebook usually begin with a harmless status update. Yet, as you’re probably well aware, they often turn ugly.
Never again, you say. It’s just not worth it.
Whether at work or on a first date, we’re never supposed to talk about politics (or religion). Topics like this, after all, can generate an unusual amount of hostility. Or they can turn people off of politics completely.
Okay, let’s just stay away from those topics, right?
Well, not exactly, no. While avoiding political conversations will guarantee no conflict ensues, as citizens we have a duty to ensure that our republic prevails, that every person can voice his or her opinion, free from tyrannical oppression.
Our nation needs people like you, people who are willing to learn how to engage in the political process in a way that’s (1) respectful of other opinions, (2) effective and impactful, and (3) proof that this country’s citizens haven’t gone the way of Rome and become apathetic.
Learn how to have enormous political impact on your friends and family. First, though, let’s figure out why (currently) no one cares about your political opinions.
1. You Have ‘Confirmation Bias’
Countless research studies (including the famous Wason Rule Discovery Test) have proven that each of us is predisposed to agreeing with opinions that simply confirm our pre-existing beliefs. This phenomenon is called confirmation bias.
Because confirmation bias exists, the process of changing someone’s opinion has become increasingly difficult and complex.
Each of us at some point has had a tough time convincing someone else that our opinion was right (and that theirs was wrong). Because of this, many people have just stopped trying.
What’s the solution?
You can learn a simple tactic that will lead to others listening to you: Begin your conversation with a question.
Asking a question first breaks down the defensiveness of the other person, giving them a sense that you actually care what they have to say. (And, oh, by the way, you should care what they have to say. Why? Because they’re a human being. They matter.)
Admittedly, the Facebook platform makes it difficult to remember to ask a question first. Usually, we just post a status update (with a period at the end, instead of a question mark). It’s akin to shouting your view in front of a crowd. Sure, you might get some sympathizers, but you’ll never change an opinion.
2. You’re Rude and Insulting (Maybe Inadvertently, but Still…)
Let’s say you have a view to share in a status update. What happens next? Usually what follows is another person objecting to that view. Naturally, the conversation proceeds with a defense, then a counter-defense, and so on.
Let’s back up. When we first post a view as a status update (with a period at the end), we are immediately ineffective and inadvertently insulting. Why? Because most likely, we’ll receive confirmation only from people who already agree with us.
Also, ask yourself this question: When someone from “the other side” posts an inflammatory political view, do you even care? No, probably not. That’s indicative of your rude attitude. You should care!
Okay, so how do we become, well, not rude and not insulting? It’s simple really: Show some respect to your leaders and to your audience.
Believe it or not, you can disagree with the views of someone and also respect them at the same time. That means: Know your audience. Be aware of their agenda before beginning a conversation.
Obviously, this proposition is difficult. Usually we are unaware of the other person’s agenda, an agenda built upon years of confirmation bias… which leads to the next point: Everyone has an agenda, and yours is probably negative.
3. You Have a Negative Agenda
Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have an agenda. The key is to always be aware of our own agenda and make sure it’s positive, not negative.
As it relates to politics, agendas are sometimes difficult to pinpoint, especially if a person is not necessarily informed on all things political and could be unaware of their own agenda.
The problem with not knowing someone else’s agenda is that we are left wondering if we can trust their opinion at all, even before they give us their opinion.
Keep in mind that an agenda is different from a political ideology. If you’re wondering what someone’s political ideology might be, you would ask questions like:
Are they liberal or conservative? A right-wing extremist or a left-wing extremist? Democrat or Republican?
If you want to know what someone’s agenda might be, you would ask yourself questions like:
How have they engaged in political discussions in the past with other people? Have their conversations been respectful of other opinions? Have they been interested in other people’s opinions? Have they shown a willingness to challenge their own opinions?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then you’re in good company. Obviously, the more yeses, the better. Go ahead and chat away! If, on the other hand, the answers are ‘no’, then any attempt to engage in political discourse with them will prove to be a frustrating experience and a waste of your time.
In short, if you find yourself bashing other people’s views, then most likely those around you perceive you as having a negative agenda. And people like that, well, they’re no fun to be around.
So, even if you’re having tough discussions, at all times make sure your conversations are honorable and uplifting.
4. You’re Apathetic
I’m apathetic? Well, you are if you’re not engaging in political discussion at all, which means no one cares about your political opinions (because they don’t know them).
Of course, if you happen to open up and share an opinion, then people might start caring. What you need to know is that apathy is a dangerous roadblock for the healthy development of a society.
If you’re the type of person to always avoid political discussion, whether due to pure shyness or pure ignorance (meaning: uninformed), you simply need to jump in the game! At first, you may not be good at it, but it’s important that you do it.
Throughout the history of the world, many societies have fallen because their people stopped caring. Apathy can become just as much an enemy of the state as an enemy actively working to overthrow the state.
Need an example? The fall of the Roman Empire occurred because of the general malaise of Roman citizens and their loss of civic virtue. In short, over the course of a few centuries, they pursued their own pleasures in life instead of caring about issues that mattered most.
Beginning to show interest in what other people think (and where this country is headed) can awaken you out of an apathetic state. People want to know they matter, and the best way to gain favor from friends AND to figure out what they know is to ask them.
A Shameless Plug for VoterMind
Your political impact can be huge. But only if you do it in the right way. As we discussed above, Facebook wasn’t built for political discussion. Politics is a different beast.
That’s why we built VoterMind, a political learning platform, based on cutting-edge science, that eliminates the friction involved in changing someone’s opinion.
How do we do this? Well, that’s the secret sauce. All you have to do is download the VoterMind iPhone app from the App Store (it’s free), and then invite your friends (from within the app). Yes, it’s that simple! Then watch how VoterMind helps you finally yield more impact than just one vote.
Now that you have some tools to ensure your friends & family begin to care about your political opinions, chances are you’ll find out that your friends know something you don’t, and you know something they don’t.
If you use the tools presented in this article, you can become more politically impactful (and liked) than you ever thought possible. So start today!
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.