All talk, no listen

If you are like most people who use a computer, your email is probably riddled with all kinds of pieces forwarded by friends or acquaintances.

Much of what is routinely forwarded is political in nature and, by reading these notes, you can pretty much determine what side of the political spectrum the forwarder is on. It is interesting that both left and right are convinced there are a lot of conspiracies going on.

They just disagree on who the conspirators are.

But one thing we find disappointing is the way mainstream websites – like The Washington Post – make assumptions by what you have read about other items you’d like to see. For instance, if you read a column by George Will, a little box on the left of the page will say “You might also be interested in” and recommend recent columns by Charles Krauthammer and Kathleen Parker. They are both good columnists, but they – like Will – are conservatives.

The newspaper has made the assumption that because you like Will, you won’t enjoy their liberal columnists like E. J. Dionne or Gene Robinson. So they recommend Krauthammer and Parker to you.

Frankly, even if you are a conservative, we’d suggest you will learn more by reading columnists that disagree with you. Websites like the Post – and, obviously, a lot of forwarding emailers – think most of us just like having our opinions reinforced and we’re not interested in the other side.

Of course, there are whole cable networks founded on the same theory. MSNBC throws out the red meat daily for their liberal followers and Fox fans the flames for the most conservative among us.

We’re not sure who said it first but we believe it is a truism that not much is learned by listening only to people who agree with you.

Just can’t help wondering how much could be accomplished if the most political in our midst actually listened to what the other guy is saying.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.