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Don’t We All See The World Through Colored Filters?

Are you seeing the world through rose colored glasses?

This phrase has often been on my mind recently as we’re mired in divisive political discussions and this last week in the Komen/Planned Parenthood debacle. It has caused me to wonder if we can ever be unbiased, or ever read straight news stories. I realized we all have filters but they are often in our subconscious. It’s amazing we can hear the same words and listen to the same news story and come away with different interpretations.

Girl with rose colored glassesWhen we read the paper, a magazine article, watch TV news or even (my favorites) Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, it is the reporter/anchor’s interpretation of a story; their version of an event. But what we actually hear is yet another version that’s colored by our own beliefs and background. It’s really not something we can control.

As concerned citizens and especially as public relations and communications professionals, we need to make sure we’re doing our best to remove those filters before advising clients or making decisions. I find one of the easiest ways to remove the filters is to gather information from many sources.

  • Watch TV news on MSNCB and Fox.
  • Read the local underground paper as well as the traditional daily.
  • Listen to NPR and talk radio.
  • Read a blog you like and then one that’s cited by that person as completely biased and wrong.
  • Talk with – and listen to — people you know are on both sides of the issue.

One of the things I like about social media sites like Facebook is when people are excited about a subject, there are lots of posts/messages where I can learn. I suggest you read them critically. It may seem there are many different filters on a subject, but studies show we gravitate to people who are similar to us. It’s only natural.

So, while social media provides new sources, they might not present an opposing view. It’s easy to gain a false sense of security around an issue.

When next you are faced with learning about a subject, check your sources and add a few you might not normally review. Look beyond the normal websites and blogs to those sites, people and blogs you know will offer an opposing view. Colored filters

And for heaven’s sake, listen to what’s provided on all the sites, and from friends. If you read but don’t listen or learn, you’re just wasting your time. As a communications professional that’s a very dangerous road. You need to understand both sides if you’re going to offer advice.

If we’re going to make this world a better place we can only do this if we look at issues and situations through multiple filters. We will only be able to collaborate on an issue once we realize and accept the many different filters through which others see the same world.

How do you make sure you’re listening to multiple sides of each story?


By |2018-03-18T22:46:21+00:00February 7th, 2012|Social Media|4 Comments

About the Author:

Mary Deming Barber, APR, Fellow PRSA, runs a strategic communications consultancy where she helps clients understand how to integrate new media into traditional communication programs. Mary has counseled clients in Tacoma, Anchorage, San Francisco, Oregon, and Colorado for nearly 40 years working with a variety of food organizations, several agencies, and as a key team member on two successful US Senate campaigns. 


  1. Shonali February 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    I’d say my glasses are slightly rose-colored, but I do try to mix up the lenses. However, as I mentioned in shanan_s post over at WUL today (outside of the fact that both you and she seem to have struck a chord), is … I wonder if there is a limit to how much diverse content we can/are willing to consume?

    • mdbarber February 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      @Shonali @shanan_s I’ll have to read the post on Waing Unlyrical in a bit but I do agree with you. There is a limit to diverse content as our time is not limited. But I also believe wehave an obligation, especially as PR people, to make an attempt at gaining more than one view of a topic. Whether that means two or 5 opinions is likely going to differ by topic. I’m guessing most of us are closer to 2-3 and that’s like adequate.

  2. […] The comments are really interesting, and even though I mentioned it in my comment, it reminded me of Mary Barber’s post (also published yesterday) where she pondered aloud on whether we all see the world through our own respective filters. […]

  3. Susie86 February 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    I get a magazine with a round up of the week’s news. The great thing about it is that for each news story it covers it with coverage from lots of papers and even online stuff so you get presented with multiple viewpoints for each and every story.

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