Some Advice for the Politically Homeless aka How I Got Out of My Echo Chamber

time to exit your echo chamber

**This article is aimed at those who feel politically homeless right now and need some help with understanding what’s happening in the world. I have included many links to other blogs I have written and interesting pieces others have, as well as videos from people who have helped me exit my echo chamber. Click here for an extensive list of people I follow.**

After the UK election last December, I was broken, defeated and utterly baffled. How could I be sharing a country with people who were willing to vote in Boris Johnson‘s car crash of a government by a landslide? First the shock result of the Brexit referendum in 2016, then two Tory wins in 2017 and 2019. Clearly I was missing something big. Mine and my friends’ way of thinking about society was not the way the majority of my fellow Brits did.

Politics was fast becoming a (not very funny) joke and I started seriously questioning my echo chamber. Perhaps the perpetual Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) and bellowing of fascism on the streets wasn’t the full story? Maybe, trusted news sources such as the Guardian and New York Times were just a teensy bit biased?

Coming off Facebook helped massively, as did deactivating my main Instagram account for months at a time, but it wasn’t enough. I needed to get a proper understanding of why my stomach was permanently in knots and I was on the verge of tears multiple times a day.

Figuring out what is actually going on in this strange old world starts with swallowing our pride and accepting that we might be wrong about some things. And it’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Social media algorithms are designed to keep us on their platform at all costs. By mostly offering us posts similar to those we’ve previously shown an interest in, we’re almost guaranteed to read and share them.

Platforms like Facebook take advantage of the fact that most people want to live in an echo chamber and are unwilling to have their world view challenged. From memes that strike a chord to heartfelt essays playing on our empathy to posts about the political party we lean towards.

How many times have you sat in front of your screen nodding your head, perhaps even commenting something like “yup, couldn’t agree more!” Confirmation bias plays into our human nature of wanting to feel secure and confident in our beliefs, plus social media is a nicer place to be when we’re cheerleading for each other. Rather than picking holes in barely researched arguments and pointing out when things are plain wrong. Which can easily put us under the microscope of scrutiny and invite the angry mob to our door.

Only tuning into one side of the narrative is dangerous

I’ve always classed myself as a free thinker but this stepped up several notches after a spiritual awakening (I used to refer to it as a breakdown, now I’ve reframed the experience). Post 2007 I begun questioning absolutely everything and haven’t stopped since. Which is why some of the most ubiquitous party lines of the Left had stopped sitting comfortably with me.

Some questions for you:

  • Is absolutely every problem a person has the government’s fault?
  • Can computer generated doom models be relied upon?
  • If someone identifies with certain elements of a political side, does this mean they agree with the most extreme/radical elements?

No, no and no.

Things started feeling very wrong this year. After the initial community spirit, early on in the pandemic, divisions were never bigger or more obvious. Could it be that we were being bamboozled by identity politics? Is it possible that all those identity-based ways of defining ourselves are actually causing more problems than they’re solving?

Tentatively, I began researching why people vote the way they do. Having been led to believe for years that anyone, even right of centre, was a total see-you-next-Tuesday, it turns out not every Trump supporter or Tory is an evil racist/homophobe/misogynist/insert slur here. Also turns out that there are just as many bad actors on the Left as there are on the Right. Extreme ends of anything are always trouble. Even hardcore tea drinkers or cake makers are a pain in the arse, and it doesn’t get more innocuous than drinking tea whilst eating a treat.

Ending up on the “right side of history” seems to be the only thing these bad actors care about. But as the interpretation of what this history will look like varies, the goal seems futile. Still, folks in their droves are willing to throw a crap ton of good people, with sound arguments, under the bus in the name of their cause. Facts be damned, apparently.

Never before did being a centrist look so appealing. We need diversity in thinking. Differences of opinions and healthy discourse that doesn’t descend into chaos and name calling. For me, I always saw being a Leftie as synonymous with being a decent person. Caring about society and the environment. Having a sound moral compass and wanting free speech. Left used to mean progress but there is nothing progressive about wrapping ourselves in cotton wool and being driven by fear.

If you think it’s okay to burn books and call for a woman to be raped and murdered, then you are part of the problem

JK Rowling’s appalling abuse really does beggar belief. Anyone who was on Twitter last week will have seen the top trending hashtag ‘RIPJKRowling’. Due to her supposed crime of transphobia, many think she is getting her comeuppance. Apparently death and rape threats are fine, as is spamming her social posts (aimed at young kids!) with photos of lady-dicks. Book burnings have taken place en masse, just like they have done in all totalitarian regimes of the past.

Silence from the Left has been deafening and even worse are the public figures signalling their approval. “Well, she’s a TERF,” they say. “She deserves it.” Thing is, if you actually take the time to read her words, you will be very hard pressed to find any transphobia. As confirmed by lots of trans folks who agree with her stance on the need to protect single sex spaces and acknowledge that biology exists.

Robbie Coltrane summed it up by saying that people sit around waiting to be offended these days. Perhaps more insidiously, they’re running around the internet spewing the most hateful bile, largely based on what others have said. Opinions aren’t even their own and don’t bother presenting facts because that proves how much of a bigot you are these days. Watching young Benjamin spa with Piers Morgan in the video above is tragic proof of this.

If you’ve been watching from the sidelines not agreeing but terrified of speaking up, then it’s time to venture out of your echo chamber

But how does one get out of their echo chamber, you might be wondering? Certainly not by following a bunch of radical nutcases on Twitter (which is essentially repackaged confirmation bias). We do it by opening our minds to the possibility that we might occasionally be wrong. Seeking out others who are politically homeless has helped me tremendously. Pretty much everyone describing themselves this way has a story like mine. Used to be a staunch Leftie and is now horrified at what it’s becoming.

Celebs who declare themselves political homeless are usually wildly misrepresented in the media (both social and mainstream). Activists take it upon themselves to tear them to shreds and get them cancelled – just look at what’s going on with Joe Rogan at the moment. Cancel culture is rampant and alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear.

Forget the rich and famous for a minute, what happens to regular folks who’ve lost their jobs and aren’t likely to get hired any time soon? Is it fair that everyday people are being targeted simply for voicing different opinions?

With politics as rotten as we have, is it any wonder so many of us are feeling politically homeless?

For the record, none of this means I’m now a fan of Trump or Johnson. Climate change still terrifies the life out of me. Wealth hoarding and poverty disgusts me. Four years on, I am still convinced that Brexit will be an unmitigated disaster for the UK. Although I’d love to be wrong, and for it to end up being an incredible thing for us Brits, I have absolutely zero faith in this government to do anything but serve themselves and their buddies.

Politics is rotten, there’s no other way of putting it. Which is why it’s vital that we come away from these election cycle pantomimes and start looking into genuine alternatives to the duopolies that have ruled for so long. Honestly speaking, do you or anyone you know have even a shred of confidence in the major UK and US parties?

Many Brits didn’t bother voting in December, or did so with a very heavy heart and this is what lots of people are saying in the States right now. Speaks volumes and shows how desperate we are for a viable alternative. Bad things happen when good people become apathetic and we have a lot of apathy in the world right now. Don’t take my word for it though, listen to Yuri Bezmenov’s sobering advice from 1984. The KGB defector escaped to the West and tried to warn us about many of the problems we are currently facing.

Why is it so important to start taking notice at this moment in time? Aren’t we all stressed enough with the pandemic?

Whilst there is no denying how useful it is to tune out from the goings on of the wider world when our mental health is suffering, we cannot allow ourselves to keep being pitted against each other. Divide and conquer is a tactic that has worked since time began and we need to revolt against it. We need to move past Left vs Right by working together on the things that unite us. As the brilliant Bridget Phetsay said: “Anyone moderate with a brain and anything to lose has largely gone silent.”

Well, it’s time to start speaking up!

Rebelling against societal norms is our only option in this age of distraction. Stop thinking you’re constantly being judged and start seeing that you’re being played. By politicians, the media and big tech. We need to stop obsessing over the stupid things Trump says and open our eyes to the billion dollar industries and social media platforms actively destroying society for profits.

Ditching societal norms

Rebelling has become synonymous with anarchy on the streets but a true rebel isn’t a so-called social justice warrior. Ditching traditional religion to become an advocate of the church of wokeness isn’t brave or original. Shouting people down and calling for their cancellation is not progressive. Ditching societal norms means not being afraid to challenge the narratives everyone else subscribes to.

Which means getting comfortable with being unpopular and not seeking the approval of others. Also, and this is very important, it means not buying into the victimhood mindset or as some have coined it the ‘oppression olympics’. Doing so might momentarily bring you the likes on Instagram, but you will feel hollow and always need validation from others. Surviving and thriving in this shitshow society requires us to have integrity by the bucket load. Critical thinking skills are an absolute must.

A few things to leave you with

FAIL OFTEN AND LEARN. Failing is good because those failures contain our biggest opportunities to learn valuable life lessons. Unfortunately, instead of being encouraged to do this, people now drag up others’ past and use all their failures against them. Kids have to be allowed to fail and most aren’t, so is it any wonder how many of them have mental health problems? Instead of filling their heads with wishy washy nonsense under the guise of just-be-kind-FFS, we should be letting our children fail because it’ll teach them how to be resilient.

INVESTIGATE BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY. There are always two sides to the narrative with a whole load of grey in the middle. If you watch or read something and it gets you riled up, it’s because it was designed to press your buttons. Be willing to accept there’s another part of the story that you aren’t seeing and actively seek it out. It’s the only way we start truly thinking for ourselves. No matter how well rounded you think your opinions are, I can guarantee you have space for at least a few of them to be questioned. Most people arrive at their conclusions because of mass manipulation, it really is that simple.

BEWARE THE EGO. Having stared down the barrel of darkness countless times, I am able to analyse my lowest moments from a distance and it’s plainly obvious now that my ego was front and centre. Being emotionally triggered at the drop of a hat and operating on perpetual flight or flight mode. When our ego is in the driving seat, we make terrible decisions. There is much said about “doing the work” these days, but there’s no work more valuable than ensuring we have sound mental health.

Being politically homeless doesn’t have to mean descending into nihilism. It’s a golden opportunity to summon our courage, awaken our souls and figure out what is truly worthy of our energy.

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