College is often described as a time for finding new interests and stepping outside of comfort zones.
One comfort zone that many students don’t stray far from is the sources from which they get their news, and most would be far better off if they could at least give others a try.
According to the American Press Institute, most millennials receive their news from social networks instead of news sites or TV. This allows the consumer to tailor what they hear and what they are exposed to, meaning it is very easy to tune out news that they don’t want to hear.
For example, one would not expect a liberal-leaning student to follow the Daily Stormer and a conservative counterpart would probably avoid news from Slate.
While it may be uncomfortable for both hypotheticals to consume content produced by the other side, it is very important that they are at least aware of the arguments and issues the other side of the aisle is concerned with.
Trying to understand the opinions of those opposed to your own opinions would allow for a better understanding of those who do not hold the same views. This kind of behavior could lead to advantages in argument at the most basic level, but more open-minded behavior and consumption of opposition material can open up new connections to people and ideas.
In many cases, a liberal or conservative label on a person will severely injure their chances of connecting to people with conflicting views. However, an understanding of both sides makes it easier to connect with others that don’t share your views. Students can learn how to steer conversations away from inflammatory subjects while also being able to discuss concepts that both parties share knowledge about.
Some liberals may be uncompromisingly set on banning all guns because the only literature they might read spouts those same sentiments. Conservatives may be adamant that taxes need to be lowered for the sake of the middle class, but they might not have not necessarily read enough to be informed on all the positives and negatives. Left- and right-leaning outlets each highlight different sides of a story, and often it is necessary to consume media from both to see the whole picture.
Anyone with a political standing can always be better educated about the issues they argue about.
It may be difficult at first, especially for habit-dependent college students, but consuming media from the other side of the aisle is one of the best ways to have a helpful and informed opinion. And, in today’s political climate, a need for more informed opinions is something all political factions can agree upon.
Jonah Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jonahpbaker