A few suggestions for a better 2017

As many blogs have highlighted, 2016 has been the most interesting of years. My biggest concerns go beyond any electoral issues. They are the decrease in civil discourse and the increase in fake news and misinformation.

On the lack of civil discourse, we must start listening to each other and not just to respond. We need to listen to understand the other’s point of view. We need to decrease the decibel level and the use of name-calling and labeling.

The louder people are and the more shortcuts they use by labels show their argument is poor. I personally find labels to be a lazy form of argument to dismiss the other’s point of view. I have been called a tree hugger for this purpose, but I usually counter that I am also a capitalist to make that person think a little more.

On the fake news and biased news sites, we must do a better job of labeling the veracity of these entities. If you are going to call yourself a news source, then you need to be doing what it takes to be right far more than you are wrong. And, you need to have an errata where corrections are made public. We must also do our part to understand the veracity of our news sources.

So, what can we do better in 2017? Treat others like we wanted to be treated would be a huge plus. Listen and provide feedback like you want to receive it. Also, know the following statements:

– neither political party has all the good ideas and both have some that are not so good or don’t factor in the holistic causes of the problem.

– political incorrectness does not give anyone license to lie or be a jerk. One can be candid without taking someone’s head off.

As for the fake news sites, be on your guard. If it reads like a tabloid, then that is a sure sign. If mainstream news is not covering an issue, but this source is, check out its veracity. If it says Sponsored Advertisement on it, that is opinion, not news. If you are getting your news from shock jock entertainers, that is opinion. Also, be guarded of Facebook forwarding of news and even blogs on this source (by the way, my site is not news and represent the opinions of its user).

These fake news creators are very good as they make a nice profit through advertisements. They can afford to be good at it. So, it does take effort and homework on our part.  I read a variety of sources, Reuters, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, news summaries and watch or listen to several others – PBS Newshour, BBC World News America, NPR, some mainstream news, etc.

Our issues are hard enough without us debating over the facts. We must gain common ground, listening and asking questions. Otherwise, we will solve the wrong problem.





19 thoughts on “A few suggestions for a better 2017

  1. Note to Readers: I have written about this before, but diplomatic pushback is an art that we should practice more. I do admit in some settings, given the nature or relationship of the individual, not saying anything is a suitable course or finding a way to exit the conversation. Some folks like to bait others into conversation, primarily because they like to argue, not listen to your point of view.

    But, when pushback is needed, questions often help diffuse. “That is interesting, where did you hear that as I have not heard that before?” “Help me understand why you feel that way?” “Did you know that story has been proven to be untrue and has been circulated as a fake news item?”

    Also, diffusing with even-handedness, “Your are right, that is one cause, but these issues are more complex than often can be solved by one solution.” If we look for ways to find some morsel of agreement, then we stand a better chance of being heard on our pushback.

    Yet, as I said above, one can be candid without taking someone’s head off. This is a key lesson our new President must learn or he is in for many diplomatic headaches.

  2. Listening, real listening, seems to be very out-of-fashion at the moment. Very often people only pretend to listen, while they are actually only waiting to shove their own opinion forward. But we could try to make 2017 the Year of Listening – maybe, if they really tried, many people would be surprised how much they actually have in common with each other.

    • Well said – pretend listening is something we all have been guilty of at some point, especially in class rooms. I like the branding of The Year of Listening. Thanks for stopping by. Please do cons again and happy New Year. Keith

  3. Great advice as usual, Keith. I especially liked your suggestions (in your Note to Readers) of ways to respond or push back when presented with “facts” that just don’t seem right. Sometimes it’s hard not to get into an uncomfortable debate so having these responses in my back pocket could be helpful.

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