“You’ve Been Blocked:” How Do We Deal With Those We Disagree With?
By Maya Gomes
As all of us are aware, politics are endemic in our society. There are few, if any, topics that have not come up on the ballot recently, especially as we enter the end stages of a frustrating, contentious general election cycle.
The question of how to deal with those around us who think differently than us is difficult. While at Packer we are quick to point out that we live in a “liberal bubble” where diversity in political opinion is rare, the reality is that many of us still have friends and family who do not vote the same way or support the same causes. Finding ways to navigate these relationships can be complicated, difficult, and oftentimes exhausting.
In a survey sent out to the Packer community, Packer kids were split on whether or not they would cut off someone who disagreed with them, politically or socially. Out of 57 respondents, responses hit both ends of the scale, but the average answer was a 5 out of 10.
“It depends on what that person means to you, and how often you have to be around that person,” said Millie Nathanson (‘24). “For me, it becomes harder and harder to separate [people’s] beliefs from who they are as a person, the more I feel like they are against me, and against the groups I identify with. At a certain point you can’t change people’s mind.”
“I want to debate [with people who vote differently from me], and try to educate them,” said Robbie Blumenthal (‘23). “But if you are socially conservative, talking about things like against black lives matter, I can’t deal with that. At that point I don’t think it’s political, its human rights.”
Leo Capozzi (‘24) offered a slightly different view. “I’m not going to cut you off because you believe in somethings that I don’t. I think we should talk instead. I don’t think cutting you off is helpful to anyone. Having a dialogue is to have a conversation with someone who has a different view than you. That’s the purpose of communication. If you surround yourself with people who consistently agree with you, you become more close-minded.
While having honest dialogues seems like a good way to move forward, the reality is that people often are not looking to have real, open-minded discussions.
Part of the problem, argues Frankie Komar (‘22), is that people are consistently shown media that supports a specific agenda, limiting our ability to craft well-informed, unbiased opinions. “People are getting the same media that they already believe in and it feels like two different medias just shouting at themselves.”
Ultimately, these conversations are messy and difficult, and unfortunately there does not seem to be a perfect answer.
“Personally my grandma is a Trump supporter, and every time I see her we talk and argue about politics but what am I going to do? Cancel her?” Robbie asked. “Am I going to tell her that I won’t see her anymore because she watches fox news and I can’t convince her to vote for Biden? I think it’s scary that people want to cut others off.”
“I think that people have identified [cutting others off] as toxic, but in my opinion, the nature of this particular moment in time and this political landscape, it is not unacceptable because if someone is supporting [Trump] and supporting his ideals it means they are aware of who he is and his hatred and the way he acts on those beliefs” admitted Millie. “If you support what he supports then you are against me so i don’t want to be associated with you.”