At its best, Medium is a place for thoughtful discussion about a whole range of issues — an exploration of ideas and opinions that leaves us all feeling smarter, better informed, and more connected. Our hope is that people can better understand each other and the world around them by hearing the best expressions of other peoples’ viewpoints.
That’s one reason we have a team of human curators here, sifting through the tens of thousands of pieces written here every week to find the best, most interesting and diverse stories. I run that team, so I wanted to make sure that I was putting my hand up to explain what you’re seeing here.
Over the last few months we’ve curated tons of stories about contentious political issues, including immigration, Brexit, gender, race, and reproductive rights. We’ve highlighted individual pieces of writing and showcased groups of stories in thematic collections. These opinions come from across the spectrum — not just straightforward progressive and conservative views, but from many nuanced (and sometimes weirder) places too. That always means there are going to be some things we highlight that people fundamentally disagree with. Knowing that, our standard is essentially: can we try to share the best stories, the ones that are thoughtful, respectful and mind-expanding?
As you mention, today we’re running a selection of stories on the site from one side of the argument on abortion — a significant group of American voters who usually identify as pro-life. Often we approach issues like this by combining views from opposing sides into a single collection (take a look at this gigantic one about Black Lives Matter, for example.) But there’s so much great, thoughtful writing about some election-critical issues that we decided to try a new approach of showcasing them one side at a time.
Tomorrow, we’re planning on a collection featuring the most thoughtful and interesting pro-choice pieces (of which there are many.)
Now, this approach may not or may not work very well, and we’re already hearing plenty of feedback from you and others. But putting forward alternative positions isn’t about changing the minds of readers, or championing a particular set of ideas.
I think the challenge is to engage thoughtfully with people you disagree with, not just ignore them, because there are lots of positive outcomes: You might remember to have a little empathy for your fellow humans, but you might also be able to understand your own beliefs more clearly, or sharpen the position you hold. If we never hear from our opponents — even people who we think are totally, utterly wrong — we never move forward, we never learn.
And in this highly contentious election season, when the polarization of the campaign trail means that policy has been left behind in the dust, really listening to each other seems more important than ever.