One Big Reason to be Worried that Everyone wants Trump to Lose
I am not a fan of Donald Trump.
To be fair, I’m Canadian, so I won’t be voting in the US election. Voting aside, however, it’s impossible not to follow, debate, and analyze all the drama that makes up a US election.
As of yesterday, Trump was polling at 39% and is not currently forecast to win as he is trailing by 6%. This is what I had hoped would happen in the general election. It’s what everyone I talk to in the US wants to happen. It’s what every article I read wants to happen. It’s the opinion of every person in my social feeds.
In fact, I cannot think of a single pro-Trump person or article that I’ve encountered in the last few months.
And that worries me.
It doesn’t worry me because I don’t have any desire to see Trump win. It worries me because it’s an indicator of how much my network filters out ideas. Trump is behind by 6% but is still favoured by 39% of those expected to vote in the US. That is a lot of people. I’m confident that many people in that group have written thoughtful, reasoned opinion pieces on why Trump might be the better candidate. I would enjoy reading such a piece and thinking about its points. I may not agree, but I’d be better educated for having read it. However, nothing, absolutely nothing, has made its way to me.
I don’t see this as a grand conspiracy. It’s not. It’s a natural result of the fact that we all tend to construct networks of people who are more similar to us than they are different. The content engines of today use these networks to distribute and target content, so being surrounded by a network of people who are generally very anti-Trump, I see nothing that represents the thoughts of the other side.
I worry about this not because of one election, but because it represents a general problem with networks of similar people (and I’m a person who takes business networking very seriously). If I am not seeing the political views of 39% of the US population, what perspective on business am I missing? What new technologies do I not see? What job candidates am I not meeting? What markets am I unaware of?
Mark Granovetter wrote about the power of weak ties back in 1973. He argued that it was weak ties that brought you new ideas, perspectives, and people. He made a compelling case that in building a business network, we should seek out weak ties more so than strong ties. That point is even more relevant today as technology amplifies the sameness of our networks.
There are many lessons from Trump’s candidacy that are unequivocally negative. The one positive lesson I’m taking from it is that I must broaden my network much further than I have to date. I may not agree with 39% of the population, but I very much want to hear their point of view.