Extremist movements are generally fueled by a political or religious ideology and when you leave that life behind, the type of media you allow yourself to digest after is imperative. The first few years after leaving extremism you’ll find yourself vulnerable, questioning things and looking for answers, sometimes in the wrong places. Many individuals turn to the equal but opposite end of extremism thinking that they are doing good and combating their former ideology, but extremism is extremism.
If your previous extremism was religious in nature, it’s important to dissolve whatever emboldened your extremism, and if you still hold onto the religion itself (minus the extremist elements), it’s important to ingest moderate religious ideology. Talk to moderate non-extremist pastors, priests, imams, rabbis and ask questions, while also telling them your previous affiliations and beliefs you held, so they can better explain and help you break the ideology. Only allow yourself media that helps you to heal, helps you to understand and come to terms with your former self, and stay away from all books, music, videos, and anything else that might stir those old feelings back up.
Remember, you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater, you can remain within your religion of choice while exiting extremism, religiousness/spirituality, and extremism do not inherently go hand in hand. The truth is, your religion of choice was highjacked by extremism, and in your reclaiming it free of extremism, you are thus taking it back and restoring it, just be careful of the media you ingest.
Now, onto the subject I know more than any, political extremism and the act of leaving it, breaking the ideological indoctrination, and rejoining humanity as a free individual. So you’ve left extremism, you have no friends and no media you can get into anymore, because it’s predominantly been extremist media, now what? First of all, do NOT, I repeat DO NOT watch the news or mainstream media and do not jump into anything political, being vulnerable and possibly confused, you do not want any outside influences. Give it some time!
DO NOT argue politics online, 1/3 are trolls, 1/3 are speaking no facts and purely emotion, and 1/3 speak media talking points, and none of it has a positive outcome. Try to stay away from social media as well, inasmuch as possible, as it’s a breeding ground for ignorance and inflammatory/skewed news, and extreme opinions. If social media is a must, use it for your benefit and growth and meet people of varied perspectives, be sure to avoid falling into the all too easy echo chamber (which often helps breed extremism).
When I left my former life, I set a goal for social media, every type of person I once hated, I wanted to be friends with and I wanted to get to know them all. I didn’t talk politics, I didn’t talk racial issues, just life, just funny things, and altogether just sharing as friends would with one another. Don’t force it, don’t be worried, don’t just befriend them trying to learn or with the intention of using them to gain something, become genuine friends.
Find new music, there are thousands of genres and sub-genres and hundreds of thousands of musicians and bands and as for videos, watch entertainment without viewing it under a dissecting or conspiratorial lens. Look up documentaries on topics that dissect your previous ideology and or that run anathema to its message and just watch and listen. Books are also plentiful, fiction, non-fiction, true crime, history, you name it, you can find it in book form, so this should be rather easy as long as you expand your horizons into new avenues.
I prefer my media to run counter-current to what I once was, such as;
- I read a lot of works on and by Martin Luther King Jr., numerous Rabbis, authors talking about factually proven history, authors who write about the whole of American history (the good and the bad), and things of the sort.
- I like videos on history and historical dramas, documentaries on the civil rights struggles, videos on the holocaust, and the history of the Jewish people.
- Music-wise, I listen to just about everything; from classical, chamber, and opera to hip hop, blues, reggae, heavy metal, rock, klezmer, and pop.
These things are what helped me to break the chains of indoctrination, by directing your mind and carefully selecting the media you ingest, you can too.