October 05, 2017

Get to know their platforms. Watch them debate. Read up on their histories, their biographies, their past choices. Know them, not their labels. You may very well find the person sharply diverges from the label.

People fight hard for their party, and for their candidate, but in the quest to win, it’s all too tempting to simplify an opponent. Fight the urge to do this, as well as the urge to give in to these little boxes of presuppositions.

True freedom is rooted in forming your own informed conclusions.

We are All Misinformed

Misinformation spreads more quickly than ever through the unifying power of social media, and is incredibly damaging to the average individual’s decision-making process.

Why, though, does it spread? Social media may be the channel, but what is the push, the engine that drives online lies?

That engine is conformation bias—the tendency to interpret, favor, believe, and remember information that confirms your preexisting beliefs. This is a very real and very common type of reasoning that causes many people to blindly accept information that agrees with the way they see the world.

For example, if a blogger drums up a false story detailing the illegal exploits of a presidential candidate and posts it, that candidate’s enemies will light the internet aflame with it because it’s what they want to be true.

Don’t be the person that blindly spreads that story. Think first. Do research on every important story you read. Again, knowledge is power. Amass that power, and you won’t fall for the siren song of misinformation.

Voting is Important

As it is with many other things in life, discernment is the key to truly maintaining and asserting your ability to choose. Verify what you read, avoid oversimplifying labels, and watch out for manipulation of the truth.

And choose you must—elections shape the course of nations. But most know this already. And yet nearly half of Americans don’t bother to vote at all.

Consider this. Elected officials know which demographics vote. Right now, these are older, wealthier voters. To ensure a win, policies are catered to these demographics, leaving the rest largely unrepresented.

Do you want a voice? Do you want to express yourself at the national level? This is how you do it. This is how you get heard—not only you, but your family, friends, neighbors, and communities.

And as for those nihilists constantly whispering in your ear that one vote doesn’t matter, take heed—George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election by about 1 percentage point. Your vote matters, to you and to the world in which America resides. Take charge of your life.

Vote.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

— President John Quincy Adams.