by Joe Deye
Deye is a Communications major at the University of Cincinnati. He participated in a class this past year that got him involved with Beyond Civility.
In a media landscape cluttered with stations running twenty-four hour news cycles filled with sound bites and sensational images, I find it can become difficult to discern what’s true and what’s important. Often, I’ve found myself dealing with the jumble by retreating to my preferred news sources, or sometimes by disregarding the news altogether.
Neither choice is a very effective communication approach. The former only solidifies my own biases, while the latter is defeatist, leaving me feeling apathetic toward the media and politics. Both present issues for my ability to effectively communicate about the world around me.
This past semester, I took a class that examined the psychology of consumer behavior. We discussed how perceptions and memories about our environments are often flawed—even subject to manipulation—when we let ourselves become complacent and uninvolved in our surroundings. After taking the class, I found myself more aware of what I was hearing and remembering. I challenged myself to examine my perceptions. For example, I questioned the narratives around police use of force by seeking accounts other than my familiar news source and by conversing with friends holding different views.
I think that this has been a helpful strategy. I have become more open to new ideas and views regarding the police. Honestly, I became more open overall. Beyond Civility encourages us to work at become better communicators for effective governance—and that might well begin with challenging our biases and perceptions.