In my political science class, one of the issues that we discussed is whether use of the internet as a prime source of news and networking creates an “echo chamber” that stifles debate and allows people to become increasingly cut off from opposing views. I say that one of the biggest “echo chambers” we have is the college campus, and I’m subjected to it constantly.
While the entire conversation was congenial and lighthearted, this person seemed genuinely shocked at the views I shared. It wouldn’t be hard to believe that he had never met anyone holding conservative views on any of the subjects that we touched upon. When I told him I was a fan of Sarah Palin, I was ready for his eyes to bug out of his head. I was expecting annoyance, disgust or amusement from a liberal when confronted with conservative views, but the emotion I constantly picked up on was surprise. On the topic of gun control, for example: I don’t think he had ever even heard the argument that an armed citizenry deters criminals. Forget the merits of either arguments for or against gun control: I don’t think he had ever even heard it.
I am never shy to complain about how annoying it is being a conservative on a college campus, but I thank God that my views are challenged on a regular basis. It lets me strengthen my opinions by ensuring that they are constructed around fundamental principles. That way, if I’m ever asked why I say I support small government while also supporting a strong military and legislative controls over issues such as abortion, I can actually answer the opposition confidently without resorting to accusing them of things such as ignorance or racism. It really makes me feel like I’m walking erect.