Have you ever felt that you couldn't engage in a political or social issue because you don't know enough? Maybe you didn't get a chance to study politics, and your life is too busy for you to educate yourself now. You know there's information on the internet, but you don't know where to start reading - and most of the information is too hard to understand without a background in that subject.
ideahopping is based on 3 core values:
- FACTUAL INFORMATION: Educational background should not limit sociopolitical engagement.
- AUTHENTIC DISCOURSE: Opinions are not identities. Differing opinions must be respected and discussed to bridge political divides.
- INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATION: Global issues require interdisciplinary solutions. Challenging education systems that force us into narrow subject fields.
We live in a time where information is more accessible than ever - yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain factually informed on issues.
Mainstream education systems in the UK tend to streamline us into specific career paths - we choose to go down a specific route at a relatively young age and the way we see the world is shaped by these choices, even though we may not realise it at the time. We become surrounded by people who think similarly to us and we also lose out on learning vital information about how the world works. As we get older, it becomes increasingly difficult to engage in issues that don't concern our specific subject fields.
So we rely on easy-to-access information to stay informed - a niche that social media fills perfectly.
Social media is convenient - with a quick morning scroll through Facebook, we can be updated on the day's news. It requires little previous knowledge or time commitment, and makes us feel up to date.
But social media has also been shown to create 'echo chambers' - bubbles of information that match the way we think and do not challenge our worldviews. Our Facebook feeds, for example, will be saturated by people who think similarly to us, share our views and beliefs, and will rarely say things we disagree with.
This is easy and comfortable. And in our already busy lives, it's much easier to avoid differing opinions and possible confrontation.
But these echo chambers hinder our growth. Our identities are formed through being challenged and experiencing discomfort, and the more we fall into these echo chambers, the less we learn about what other people really think and become more convinced that our own opinions are right. (Read our article about why this isn't great - Othering, Identity Crises, & Growth here!)
And although newspapers and websites are factual, they are biased. The Guardian for example, is known for being a Left-wing paper, and The Telegraph is known for being Right-wing. This also doesn't help us escape these echo chambers - although articles may be factual, we're still only reading from people who agree with us.
We're not being challenged.
Combining all of this, when social or political issues are made into quick, biased articles that reflect our own viewpoint, it's easy to lose touch with the original message, what's really behind the politics:
It's so easy to forget that these abstract issues are affecting real people - that people's lives are being uprooted and changed even as we read. And even though these people may seem different to ourselves, we are all ultimately going through the same experiences of life. We're all experiencing the same emotions and feelings - happiness, sadness, love, heartbreak, grief, joy.
They're all human experiences.
It's easy to forget that and see others as different because they may disagree with us. We dismiss their opinion, and therefore that person, as different, as wrong, as not even worthy of consideration, because we're so used to being right. We lose our basic respect for people.
The thing is - we're not right.
None of us are. No one knows everything - we don't have enough evidence to be completely sure of everything, nor do we have all the experiences to understand why someone might feel a particular way about something.
But now, it's become harder to be unsure. It seems like everyone has a strong opinion about every issue - that to have an identity, we must have a political label.
We challenge that.
We believe that opinions are just that - opinions - and they do not reflect someone's identity. Opinions are fluid and they should change the more we experience life. Each new experience should change the way we see the world, in some, even small, way.
But it's hard to change now. It's hard to question our own values when our friends share the same ones as us. We're scared we'll be called ignorant. Or uninformed. Or not 'woke' enough. Or too much of a 'snowflake'.
So we try to remain the same and we are scared to question ourselves or change, because we don't know where we'll fit in. We engage less in political issues because we're unsure of where we stand, or we think we don't know enough, or as much as others. (Link to what the Dunning-Kruger effect is!)
In reality, we just haven't found a space to learn without judgement, or to question ourselves without being criticised. Or even allow others to question us without feeling like we're being labelled or defined - put into a box of what our opinions 'mean'.
WHAT WE DO
1. We believe that we should all have the space to educate ourselves, question, and be questioned. We must learn to respectfully discuss opinions and challenge ourselves, and the beliefs we hold - that's the only way we can collectively grow. We think that admitting humility is necessary - that we do not understand everything - and ask for help from others who may have more expertise than us. Education is a privilege, but we believe it is a privilege everyone should have. Being factually informed on social issues shouldn't be a luxury afforded only to the proportion of people who can afford to be engaged. We provide factual, easily understandable information on global issues, with the aim that they should be accessible to everyone, regardless of education level. We aim to challenge the ideas of feeling we 'don't know enough' to engage.
2. We believe that the humanity, the people, must be brought back into social issues. That these issues must be contextualised into their effects on people. EXCHANGE aims to do this by providing personal stories about each issue that we write about - why something really matters to someone - and bring the humanity back into politics. Anyone can contribute here, as we all have experiences to share. This is a place for people to question and be questioned, to promote authentic, respectful discourse. We aim to bridge the gap between the Right and the Left, and show that we all have reasons for believing the things we do, and that ultimately, we all share the human experience of life.
3. The internet has given those of us with the privilege of high levels of education to form our own ideas - on how we'd like to change the world, what we'd do differently, projects we'd like to start - and learn more. We therefore believe that everyone has expertise to share. Whether these are practical skills related to self-sufficiency, or academic insights, we believe that interdisciplinary collaboration is key. We aim to challenge the constrictive education system and provide space for people to learn from, and collaborate with people who have expertise in certain fields, and share knowledge and ideas. Find out more at INNOVATE.
We want to make this learning process as convenient and easy as social media. If you'd like to learn more about the different pages, and how to navigate the site to find what you're looking for, click here!
HOW DO WE OPERATE?
This site is based on collectivism and collective knowledge. We all know things that others don’t - everyone has an experience or expertise to share. Therefore, anyone who wants to write something can do so.
To attempt to eliminate bias, we'll try and ensure that as many perspectives are represented as possible by reaching out to people who share different views!
As much as possible, INFORM articles will be paired with EXCHANGE ones, of different perspectives, to contextualise issues into personal experience.
Sustainability is at the heart of this site. We are hosted by GreenGeeks - a webhosting provider that is carbon neutral.
We want to remain factual - this involves fact-checking, especially by people who have expertise in a field. We're currently looking for people who can help with this! If you believe you have expertise in something, please get in touch via the get-involved page!
Or if you want to get involved in another capacity, click here!
Want to know how this started, from a personal perspective? Check out this link!