Whether you realize it or not, we all have implicit biases. After all, our daily experiences and interactions define the way we view the world. Although our biases operate on an unconscious level, we must both recognize and confront these beliefs so that we can show more empathy and build stronger connections.
If you’re ready to break down your own implicit biases, take these four steps:
1. Utilize multiple news sources.
Every media source is implicitly biased in one way or another. Therefore, if you rely on just one news source, you will develop those same biases yourself. Reliance on just one information source can increase feelings of fear, hate, or even undue admiration towards certain groups of people.
However, if you diversify your content and read the same news stories from different angles, you will have a comprehensive view of the situation.
2. Follow people you disagree with on social media.
If everyone held the same beliefs about everything, the world would be a boring place. However, this is easy to forget when you see your friends, family members, and favorite celebrities openly sharing their personal opinions on every conceivable topic.
Rather than unfollowing everyone you disagree with, though, use these differences in opinion as an opportunity to learn how others see the world. Educate yourself, participate in healthy discussions, and remember that the internet provides a skewed, incomplete version of a person.
3. Pay attention to your reactions.
One of the most straightforward ways to confront your implicit biases is to question your immediate reactions. For example, you may ask yourself questions such as “Why did I cross the street to avoid that person?” or “Why did that person’s comment make me feel defensive?”
If you are not a naturally introspective person, this can be a particularly difficult step. But challenging your implicit biases requires you to face your discomfort and learn from it, rather than avoid uncomfortable topics.
4. Read more books.
The internet provides us all with a vast amount of surface-level information. However, it takes more than a few articles and trending tweets to really dig deep into a topic or person’s mind. Therefore, if you want to see the world from different points of view, books are a better bang for your buck.
Read memoirs and biographies to understand how different experiences shape a person. Expand your awareness by reading nonfiction books on social identity topics. Even reading fiction can increase empathy, which will help you fight implicit bias.
Challenging your implicit biases can be a difficult task. Don’t let it discourage you, though. Instead, look at this as a step towards bettering yourself as a person. Keep learning, keep trying, and keep developing self-awareness. By taking these steps, you will show yourself and others that fairness, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of a world free from stereotypes is important.