Hypocrisy comes from both ends of the political spectrum

Denise Emerson

Two UT students stood opposite each other, enraged. This was The Daily Texan’s front page photo of the Young Conservatives of Texas’ protest last week. While it was initially meant to support Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, the protest quickly escalated to angry shouting and sign ripping. 

The protest embodied the extreme division of political groups that continues to grow on our campus. This is a result of close-minded information consumption and natural biases, which lead to a lack of empathy for one another.

The way we receive news and inform ourselves contributes to the division. Social media and Google will feed users content that reflects their beliefs and interests, pushing us into loops of media that agree with our opinions. These are known as filter bubbles. In a study published by Northwestern University, 93.6 percent of participants closed themselves into filter bubbles on Facebook, liking and sharing content with consistent viewpoints. According to the study, once people felt comfortable in their filter bubbles, they only became more polarized. 

If we were to actively seek out journalism outlets that challenged our own perspectives, we would be able to understand other political views in a more informed and open-minded manner. 

Natalie Stroud, an associate professor for the Department of Communication Studies, researches the relationship between media and political groups.

“Partisan media increases polarization on both sides of the political aisle,” Stroud said in an email. “It can be beneficial to society if people look to the other side to appreciate a different perspective.”  

The refusal to empathize causes harassment and wrongdoing from both sides of the spectrum. Maya Vela, a journalism sophomore and YCT member, said she experienced this firsthand through harassment from fellow students.

“There’s no communication on either side, which really aggravates me because we come to conclusions through civil discourse,” Vela said.

Vela also said she enjoys learning about all perspectives and doesn’t discriminate against news sources.

“I consume a lot of media, whether it be New York Times, BBC (or) Fox News,” Vela said. “I think that’s what all Americans should do because you’re supposed to be well informed. As a conservative, I feel like people who solely get their news off of Fox News or Facebook (are) just being ignorant.”

We need to admit that the biases go both ways. Stroud said research shows there’s not a single news outlet people can agree is not biased even though traditional news outlets have the obligation to report facts as objectively as possible.

“It’s the same thing with liberals,” Vela said. “If they just consume CNN or just news that fits their narrative, it’s because they feel comfy about it. That’s what we want to do. We want to feel comfy.”

Putting on a news show that criticizes your point of view can help you understand the values and priorities of other political groups. You might even agree with some of their stances on certain issues. It’s not blasphemy to be moderate.

“People, left and right, are telling you what you should believe,” Vela said. “I get both of their views and I can make that decision myself.”

Something we can all agree on is that we don’t want our future to be more divided than it is now. We don’t have to hold hands and sing Kumbaya, but we need to at least understand each other’s platforms. This starts with the information we consume.

Emerson is a journalism and radio-television-film sophomore from San Antonio.