J500 Media and the Environment


Not enemies, but family by mindeeforman
October 18, 2008, 2:16 pm
Filed under: Society + Media | Tags:

Talking to people who disagree with you about an issue is always a challenge. In this crazy election year with high emotions and flaring tempers, David Clark provided some great advise to talk to people across the aisle or across the dinner table.

I loved his circle imagery – it made me think of a swimming pool. What’s more effective, shouting to someone across the pool, or walking to one end to talk face-to-face? Whether the issue is global climate change, the economy, or healthcare, common ground can be found in the things we all hold dear. Family. Health. Money. Nature. These issues are too important to discuss while shouting at each other. I find not much listening happens when people shout, anyway. I’ve been trying a softer approach recently when discussing politics – keeping my emotions at bay and trying to listen and ask questions instead of yelling. I also find it helpful to use very non-partisan sources like factcheck.org, procon.org, and dividedwefail.org in my discussions. It’s easy to just dismiss an argument that comes from Fox News or MSNBC as being too partisan, so I don’t go there.

David’s comments about how to talk to people about climate change who might not believe it exists reminded me of a marvelous, frightening video I saw on YouTube called “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See.” The creator of the video uses humor and common sense to address an issue that should be important to everyone, and he tells us why. Ultimately humor and listening, not shouting and high emotions, will help us unite.

-Mindee Forman

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4 Comments so far
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Mindee,
How do you use information from non-partisan sources to influence people in regards to green initiatives? I find hard facts and numbers don’t often sway people. Have you had greater success? Please share.
Thanks,
Simran

Comment by j500

I haven’t yet tried it with green initiatives specifically; it’s been more with other political issues. As to the effectiveness of that, it’s really been negligible. Not to get too political, but people who have made up their mind that things are a certain way don’t often care what the facts are if they contradict their beliefs. I think David’s method of finding an emotional link is a much more successful tactic, but my point in the post was that when approaching an issue with emotional value, MY emotions need to stay out of the picture.

In terms of green initiatives, most of the folks I’ve talked to have been ones that believe in the importance of being green anyway. I was talking to a member of my church’s Green Team about the Styrofoam cup issue after our weekend of class (she asked if the subject had come up in our discussions) and was telling her about the fact that plastic doesn’t truly recycle, but downgrades. And that if we switch to paper or corn-based cups we need to make sure they either get recycled (or check their bio-degradability) or composted. As with any political issue, it’s not as cut and dried as it seems. She was very interested to hear those facts, but I was preaching to the choir, so to speak.

Comment by mindeeforman

Mindee,

As I mentioned in class I have attempted to approach global warming using this same logic with a coworker who doesn’t believe in being green or global warming. Needless to say I didn’t make any progress. Unfortunately if people truly don’t believe there is a risk they don’t feel they need to make any changes or worry about global warming. My hope is that those of us who do believe we need to conserve and make changes become more educated we will be successful in convincing those that don’t see this as an issue.

Comment by vanessar05

Mindee,

Thanks for the YouTube link. I watched the video with my 8-year-old at the kitchen counter, and we were both entertained if not a little wide-eyed by the end of it. We both had to reassure each other that some of us were working in the correct column. Right? “Catastrophe” isn’t inevitable? Right?

I agree with you. Once the shouting starts, it’s all over. The discussion has taken a nose dive. I wonder sometimes if the environmental movement needs a brand-new new lexicon, a new face and frame. So many words like global warming and climate change are so loaded now. The symbols and messages are getting exhausted, or we’re becoming too acclimated to them.

We can’t have the us-and-them mentality anymore, on either side. You can’t change people, and sometimes you can’t change their beliefs, especially when they are integral to their self-identity or wrapped in pride. You can only accept people where they’re at, like Clark says, and work within the circle you’ve got.

So how do we make the sticking points moot points? How do we neutralize these issues that are so polarized? Thanks for sharing the nonpartisan sites like factcheck.org and procon.org. We need more of these sites to give us something safe to talk about. You’re right, humor and listening may be what saves us.

– Cheri

Comment by cherileb




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