Spiral of Silence, and the Election Half of us Saw Coming

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In media theory, there exists something called the “Spiral of Silence.” It sounds threatening, but it really just says that if you think one way, and more people think another way, you’re not likely to broadcast your differences. Unpopular opinions are just that – unpopular. And so we hold them closer to our chests, more often than not.

Some of us fall outside the theory’s framework; those who refuse to spiral into silence. What makes us different? Perhaps we don’t fear alienation or retaliation in the face of unpopular opinion. Or, more likely, perhaps we just don’t understand what the popular opinion is. Remember those signs? “The silent majority stands with Trump,” they read. I thought those were wrong. I was so certain of it. And yet here we are.

How interesting that Trump’s supporters may have been suffering from a spiral of silence effect. They took their opinion, which was in fact the prevalent one, and more or less held it closely. As the tides of public opinion turned in their favor, they begin to broadcast support on a greater level.

For the media, this may point towards a terribly challenging recognition that it is, collectively, too liberal. Echo chambers are easy to make and deceptively hard to leave. We need to realize that before it’s too late.

In what I hope is my final musing on this election, I want to take this brief space to dissuade anyone on our campus from spiraling into silence. Following the example set over the weekend by Chancellor Joe Steinmetz, I simply wish to remind readership that this page exists as an outlet of the opinions of the writers, yes, but it ought ultimately belong to the community it serves.

I never ran one pro-Trump piece, and the man won the presidency. Clearly, those on the outside of media looking in were too afraid to voice their opinions, and it was those opinions that ended up constituting this political reality.

Please, don’t remain silent any longer. I don’t care what you think, only that you think it, and that you do it respectfully. Our doors are always open, and so is my inbox. One more time, for the record: If you have an opinion this campus needs to hear, get in touch with me at tstallba@email.uark.edu or on Facebook, Twitter or MySpace.

 

(1) comment

HogHeaven76

Interesting...It seems that any dissenting view expressed is immediately challenged and told not to disagree with obvious brilliance. Nice idea though.

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