I am fascinated by the way those with hardened views on politics use social media to affirm their beliefs and attack others who question them. I am not writing about the vast majority of users who have an opinion on day to day politics. Instead, those who will share any post as long as it re-affirms their stated belief, regardless of whether or not it is factually correct. This plays an important role in politics because it allows groups to build a myth to aspire to, but also an outside group to demonise.
Psychologists call this Cognitive Dissonance; continually changing facts and truths to support our point of view. Psychologists believe that Cognitive Dissonance is a natural human trait. This can be dangerous because we reject facts that do not suit. We lie to ourselves. Holding onto these beliefs, we reject and attack anything that questions them. Some therapists call this Splitting; the opinion is either “right & good” or “wrong & bad”. There is no in between.
For most, social media can be dismissed. Unfortunately, entrenched beliefs can undermine our day to day lives. Take for example in the workplace. An office manager may be impressed by the results of one of his team leaders. Unfortunately, the team leader is a bully and disruptive influence within the team. It is clear that the team succeeds despite her and could achieve more with a better team leader.
However, when members of the team find the courage to confide in the office manager, he may reject their experiences. He has invested in the narrative that his team leader is successful. In defence, he might question the attitude some team members have towards their team leader. The team leader herself may not be capable of change; she has always been “rewarded” for her behaviour by managers who only notice the results she presents. This environment can become toxic with two opposing groups becoming even more entrenched. Mental and physical health can deteriorate within the opposing camps. Productivity becomes negatively affected and there is potential for reputational damage to the team, office and organisation.
All this because the office manager lies to himself and refuses to reconsider the “truth” he has created.
Many therapists will offer compelling reasons to invest in their type of therapy. Choose the therapy and therapist you feel speaks to you.