As the 2020 presidential election ramps up, you may find yourself overwhelmed. Political ads, viral memes, heated commentators, social media sparring — there’s plenty of noise in a nation that seems deeply divided about the direction of our country, and everyone seems to be trying to sway you one way or the other. Avoiding manipulation can seem like a monumental task.
A good rule of thumb for politics is: if you can’t explain the argument for the other side, you don’t really know the issue — and may be more likely to be swayed by biased or bad arguments. Understanding both sides can help you to process an onslaught of information, make informed voting decisions, and avoid negative feelings when reading the news or talking to someone who thinks differently.
This election season, there are numerous tools out there to help you understand issues from all angles and avoid being manipulated. Here are five of the best:
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- AllSides. AllSides offers balanced news, media bias ratings and other tools to help you understand different perspectives. Too often, we place ourselves inside political silos and refuse to interact with those who may have a different view. Maybe we only follow Fox News, or maybe we keep a circle of exclusively liberal friends. AllSides shows you news and perspectives from the left, center and right, helping you to break out of your filter bubble. A recent study found people who diversified their online news consumption and interacted with people with different views reported lower levels of anxiety related to current events.
- Abridge News. Another resource for understanding multiple perspectives, Abridge News tackles echo chambers by offering quick facts, an opinion spectrum, and reader reactions to trending stories. Read multiple perspectives on any given issue, vote on which ones you agree with, and see how many others agreed.
- The Thread. Should the minimum wage be $15? Should teachers be armed? Should college tuition be free? Arguments on each side of many political issues often share a common thread — in these examples, wanting people to have an easier time making ends meet and ensuring students are protected from violence. The Thread offers factual and politically diverse commentary on some of society’s most important issues, highlighting common threads and providing well-researched resources on both sides. The Thread is a great reminder that we’re all focused on solving the same issues.
- Living Room Conversations. Avoiding political manipulation also means knowing how to talk to folks on the other side and heal divides. Living Room Conversations has developed conversation guides on nearly 100 topics that can otherwise be difficult to talk about with friends, family and even strangers of different backgrounds and political persuasions. You can participate in a conversation either online or in person.
- The Flip Side. The Flip Side is an easy, daily email that takes five minutes to read and helps you to get the whole political picture by displaying the best points on the day's hot topics from both sides. It’s a great way to keep your own bias in check and learn how to defend your stance against the best points from the other side — or perhaps change your mind entirely.
Avoiding political manipulation means cutting through partisanship and having a truly informed stance on issues — not living in a filter bubble and refusing to speak or listen to the other side. This election season, don’t skip over crucial tools that can help.
Julie Mastrine is the Director of Marketing at AllSides. She has a Lean Right bias.
This piece was reviewed by Henry Brechter, Managing Editor at AllSides. He has a Center bias.