For 48 Hours I stepped into the Red Zone — Heres how it went.
Blog # 1:
In todays political climate the line of distinction between what it means to be a liberal versus what it means to be a conservative has been draw out with a pretty thick sharpie, and the tension between these opposing views seem to be growing stronger everyday.
As a black middle class woman, I’m sure its easy to guess which team I play for, and I often find myself absorbing information and news sources that align with my own views, and cover issues that relate to my life, my experices, and the injustices my fellow minority groups face. When I think of basic conservative viewpoints, I think of the many ideologies that go against my rights, freedoms, and overall humanity, and its often hard for me to try and hear their perspective, put myself in their shoes and try to unravel why they may think the way they do. In the age of social media its easy to pick and choose whose voices you want to hear, and what you want to see, and if your not actively doing it, you can bet algorithims are making these filter bubbles and echo chambers for you.
But what if you decided to do the unthinkable? like willingly watch Fox News over CNN, or subscribe to the blaze instead of NPR? Would you gain a greater sense of empathy and understanding for the views of your opposers, or would it just validate why you don’t waste your time hearing them out. Well I decided to step out of the blue lines for 48 hours to see just how difficult, or possibly eye-opening, it would be to absorb news sources that directly opposed my views. I logged out of my usual Buzzfeed News, Vice, and Time Magazine, and logged into The Federalist, Fox News, and National Review. Here was my experience.
DAY 1: Morning
I usually start my mornings by opening Buzzfeed news, to get a sense of whats going on in the world, and maybe take a quiz on which dog breed I am, but today I suppressed the urge and willed myself to checked out the National Review. I chose this news source because it prides itself on being a purely conservative platform, and the FAQ on the website even states “The magazine [defines] the modern conservative movement and enjoys the broadest allegiance among American conservatives” (The National Review). I knew it would be challenging to start my day by hearing the opinions of people whose views I am opposed to, but I was determined. While scrolling through I noticed many articles referencing Saudi Arabia with article names like “What do we know about Saudi Arabia?” , “Don’t believe Saudi lies”, and “The Saudi’s are bastards”. In all honesty I was incredibly shocked to see published articles using such hateful offensive language towards a specific people group and reading anti-Islamic articles was not the way I was hoping to start my day. To me it was quite upsetting that a “professional” news platforms found it okay to belittle, generalize, and demonize an entire country of people. I was quickly able to realize the difference between the way my usual left-winged news sources took extra precaution to not offend specific groups, while this conservative site was absolutely reckless in terms of how they went about the discussion.
DAY 1: Afternoon
After coming home from class, I decided to kick back and scroll through my facebook page like I usually do. I made a conscious effort to ignore all my usual news sites and visit a conservative page every time I scrolled past the usual Vice News, or Narcity Toronto. One of the pages that stood out to me was The Federalist, who posted a suprising variety of articles. Some offensive (as expected), others pretty similar to articles I’ve seen on my usual facebook wall which was surprising to me. The first article that stood out was one describing the #MeTooMovement as a witch hunt, victimizing various men facing rape allegations, and on the other hand an article (similar to one I’ve seen on NPR) talking about the negative impact Disney movies can have on young girls. This page seemed to contradict itself by criticizing a movement based on justice for women who have been sexually assaulted, while supporting the idea that Disney movies are potentially harmful to little girls in terms of gender roles, and, female objectification, and the importance placed on needing a man to save you. I was a bit confused about the social viewpoints of this conservative medium. Were they feminist or not? did they care about women’s right or not? I was left scratching my head.
Day 1: Night
I’m not a huge news watcher, but every night my mom gets home from work and puts on CNN, sometimes I join her. This time I asked her to put it on Fox News and while she was hesitant, I explained my reasoning. We watched Fox that night and could barley get half an hour in. Its pretty common to hear a lot about Donald trump every time you turn on the news but CNN always shares a perspective on him and his presidency that I agree with, while Fox News supports his irrational behaviour, and misogynistic tendencies. You can bet that night they covered the never-ending drama with this man, empathizing and supporting his side of whatever situation he was in.
Day 2: Morning
This challenge was starting to feel like it was never ending, but I was determined to finish. Following my morning routine I sat at the breakfast table scrolling through Redstate.com. It was honestly the same old conservative political discussions that I usually avoid, but one stood out to me. It was an article covering Amy Schumer’s claim that the white NFL players choosing not to kneel are racist. The article made her out to sound incredibly dumb for making such a claim, and the author was not able to see how choosing to not support a movement pertaining the police brutality and the disregard for black lives, might make one a racist. At least racist enough to not care about the racial injustices happening in America.
Heres a link to the frustrating article:
Amy Schumer: If White NFL Players Don't Kneel They Must Be RACIST!!
I Feel Pretty (Dumb) You never know where the in-depth, deep thoughts from the entertainment intelligentsia crowd are…
Day 2: Afternoon
By the afternoon I did the usual facebook scroll and looked at various conservative pages. One of which was Townhall a conservative column. The article I chose to read was one about Radicals and how they are taking over the democratic party, here is a quote from the article “Radical, wild-eyed extremists have taken over”. That language pretty much sums up the accusatory nature of the article and you can bet the author was giving a rant about how much he hates the democratic party.
Day 2: Night
With very little hope left that I would take something insightful about conservative views from these 48 hours, I ended the night watching Fox News for hopefully the last time. The topic was of course trump, and the broadcast was in support of his cracking down on “illegal aliens”. I was more than ready to leave this conservative bubble that I was trapped in for the past two days.
Overall this experience basically validated why I choose to absorb the news content that I do, and although I was giving these news sources the benefit of the doubt, hoping that they might have some insightful arguments that would give me a new perspective on the ideologies of those who sway right, they just reinforced the outlook on conservatives I already had. Even though this was a rather frustrating experience, it is important to stop and listen to what the other side has to say before making any judgements or demonizing them, and this experience taught me that sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.