Polarized, Pissed Off and Pushing Through

Living the Life

Polarized, Pissed Off and Pushing Through

Apr 11, 2023 | Living the Life

Polarized, Pissed Off and Pushing Through

Apr 11, 2023 | Living the Life

We live in an era of cacophonous disagreement. Misinformation that was once spoken in the hushed corners of the internet are now mainstream with fervent supporters gleefully spreading their version of the gospel. The seeds of disinformation have taken root and become ideology. And if you think this is about politics, think again. This phenomena has permeated all human interaction resulting in the “for” and “against” driving stakes in the ground with no room for compromise.

But the truth of it all is not on either side of the picket lines of the noisy, angry discourse but somewhere in the middle. It is where a majority live, bullied into silence by their pitchfork bearing friends, families, and colleagues who badger them to pledge allegiance or be vanquished to the darkness of “the other side.”

Communicators have an even tougher job today, rising above the angry mobs and crafting fact based messaging that appeals to their publics and protects the companies they represent. For those public relations professionals that are not representing issues based brands, the job can feel impossible on some days.

While we navigate the mobs, we must also advocate for unbiased information, a free press and transparency, among other things. Did I mention that the job is hard? Doing so today requires a steady check-in on ethics, a systematic check on inherent biases and a diversity of thinkers to crisis proof messaging. And even when you do all the right things for all the right reasons, you will still be faced with criticism. 

On a recent episode of “That Solo Life,” we talk about the dangers of bias and how it is becoming deeply institutionalized with the potential to destroy a democratic society. This is not mere hyperbole but a scary truth that is playing out in higher education. Tess Winston, a third year law student at Stanford Law, wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post detailing how this plays out on her campus. She writes, “There’s little room for nuance. If you’re not overtly one of “us,” then you’re assumed to be one of “them.” She illuminates how choosing to be a prosecutor or defense attorney is no longer a matter of choosing how you want to practice your profession but a choice of “us” or “them.” 

Yet, in the midst of it all, there is hope.

Professional communicators can and should be fervent activists for truth, not “a truth” but THE truth. We can lead the way by not spreading mis-, mal- or disinformation and educate our communities on how to fact check. We can lead the way with ethical communications and actions. Communicating is our superpower and we can use it for good to invite healthy engagement rather than toxic disagreement. There has never been a moment in history when our gifts and talents were needed more. We can and should be the rising tide that lifts all boats. It’s a tough job, but I have faith that you are ready for the challenge. 

We’d love to hear from you. Please share your bias busting stories and tips in the comments below or keep the conversation going on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.

Photo: Credit:PeopleImages

Written By Karen Swim
Karen Swim is the President of Solo PR and Founder of public relations agency, Words For Hire.


  1. AWESOME!!! “Yet, in the midst of it all, there is hope.” I am an eternal optimist but a pragmatic realist…
    Aristotle’s “Rhetoric and Poetics” describes the dialectic method. Check it out. And thanks, Karen, for telling it like it is! ❤️🙏✌️

  2. Michael, your comment means the world to me, thank you so much! I love the recommendation and look forward to discussing with you. I have a cursory knowledge but am eager now to dig deeper and learn more. Thank you for always being a guiding light!