It is ironic that despite the proliferation of media through 24 hour news channels and the internet, people are growing more insulated. Many people only consume media that validates views they already hold. They don’t seek news or opinions that challenge their ideas. With on-demand news it is easy to rarely see a counterpoint to ideas held dear. Conservatives can consume conservative ideas. Liberals can consume liberal ideas. The only exposure to the opposing side is when a news show brings an idea to disparage and reject out of hand. It is sad really. Liberals and conservatives basically want the same things, despite different ways of achieving them.
Pigeon-holing oneself to only the views you agree leads to shallow one-sided thinking. How can you grow without ideas that challenge your thinking? Essentially this leads to seeking continual validation for your opinions. It encourages an us-verse-them mentality. Just because you may not agree with a stance or idea doesn’t mean it isn’t valid or even a better alternative.
Of course, this isn’t anything new. People don’t like to admit they are wrong. People in particular don’t like to admit their dearest held ideas are wrong either. The best way to avoid this is to wrap themselves with blankets of thought that matches their own. An idea is truth if a lot of people believe it, right?
Consuming media that only validates your views leads your control by the people who spin the messages. While it may seem you are making a conclusion from your free will you are really deciding from ignorance. How can you rightly decide if you lack all the information? How can you draw a conclusion about a topic if you don’t understand all the points and counter points? When you act from the messages you consume you become a puppet to those messages. You are not acting responsibly without understanding. Idea pigeon-holing oneself is just a form of mental slavery.
You are not free until you can listen to views you disagree with and consider them on their own merit. Dismissing something out of hand just because it goes against your beliefs or ideas is the mark of foolishness. People wouldn’t hold their views if they didn’t think they had some merit. You need to figure out what that merit is. To do so you need unbiased (or at least opposing) information. Likewise, you need to examine your own views and why you hold them. Emotions and anecdotes are poor reasons. Evidence and reason are the foundation of wisdom.