Each day it seems Americans become more and more divided along political party lines. But there IS still a way for Americans to unite. Riaz Patel, TV producer and founder of ‘ConnectEffect,’ tells Glenn it’s all about disregarding the ‘screen world’ and instead listening and learning from other humans’ first-hand experiences. It’s important to ‘reset humanity’ and fight the agenda being forced onto us all through our phones. Patel tells Glenn about his new project which does just that and about the amazing progress he’s witnessed thus far…
Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: I want to welcome back a very good friend of the program. Somebody, if you're a long-time listener of this program. Somebody you might remember Riaz Patel. He's now the founder of Connect Effect. He is a TV producer. Two-time Emmy nominee. Couldn't get it done, huh?
RIAZ: Both times. And she wasn't even there.
GLENN: But he's also a guy that I think we met in 2015, or 2016?
GLENN: And there was shooting. You're a Muslim. You're a gay man. And there was a shooting, and you were -- you know, the media was telling you, this is really. This is what's happening. And then Trump came along. And you were like, okay. I got to know what's really going on. And you went up to Alaska. And said, I just want to meet these people. Because I can't live in a world, if that's what I'm really surrounded by. And you found out, that's not.
RIAZ: Not remotely. Not remotely. The 50 percent of the population is not the cliché that I was led to believe. They're actually human beings.
GLENN: And we had such a great time getting together. I still follow you on Instagram. We chat from time to time.
But the -- the thing that always struck me was how honest you always were. You were really looking for information. You weren't trying to prove anything. You just wanted to know what the truth was.
And how different our understanding of the news was, because you lived in your world.
GLENN: And I lived in my world. And I remember putting things up in the chalkboard. And saying, none of those things happened.
RIAZ: At all.
GLENN: Big stories to conservatives. It was weird.
RIAZ: And it used to be the strangest thing, when I would come here to visit you, that I would get on the plane, and leave the LA feeds, and arrive here, completely different news. Completely different stories, like this is insane. Two different worlds.
GLENN: Yeah. Yeah. So you've been trying to bridge the gap.
GLENN: For a long time. And we talked about shows, where you could actually talk. Things have only gotten worse.
RIAZ: Yes. Absolutely.
And I think that was the big problem, was the screen world, and I called the screen world. All the edits that magically appear for us on our phone is the screen world, is not the real world. It's a very particularly point of view, and very highly edited. And to me, for seven years, what is the truth? And every time I would bring people together, seven people, ten people. Fifty people. In Alaska, Dallas, New York. They were never the clichés that I was led to believe.
And I constantly was wondering, how do they connect, and why wouldn't they connect?
And really, it came down to the power of the screen world is now the way we see the world.
People can be standing in front of us, and we cannot see them, or their humanity, because we see them through the edits that we think we know about them.
GLENN: It's really terrifying.
Because we were talking off the air. Children suicide and depression is off the charts.
GLENN: Unbelievable. And I think it's because of this.
There's nothing real. You don't really know people. And covid only made it worse. No real connections going on.
RIAZ: And that's the thing. It's so funny.
Everyone seems to be lacking true authentic connection, and the thing that I realized over seven years, is that true connection is not remotely information-based. Even if we're all living in an information age. That the words we exchange are 7 percent of communication. It's the body language. It's the tone. It's all of those things that create humanity. None of those you get from a screen. You just get the words, which sequentially posting at each other gets us absolutely nowhere fast.
And so I kept trying to think, what is a way to do this? A hard reset. Actually leave people in a room, so that they can see each other. And not see the edits that they think they know about each other. And that took seven years of testing and testing and testing.
GLENN: So how are you going to do this?
RIAZ: So it's called Connect Effect. And what it is -- it's an in-person -- it's an entertainment experience. And it's designed that way, because I reached out to a policy institute, and they said, everything we're doing about bridging and facilitating conversations, is not working. People just show up with more information, and they just keep exchanging it, and no one actually listens. And no one actually learns and is impacted. So how can I get people in a physical room? And we do 50 to 100 people at a time. To really see each other. The people in the room. The real world. And not the screen world. Not see each other through the screen world. It's a hard reset of their humanity.
GLENN: So how do you do that?
Because I would think that you would -- depending on where you are, you would have a lot of conservatives show up. And some very timid liberals. Or a lot of liberals show up. And their timid conservatives.
And you would fight an agenda. You know what I mean?
So how do you -- how do you -- how are you getting that?
RIAZ: The thinking is, the actual Connect Effect, what it is, is this: When you connect with someone in a meaningful, in-person way, in person, human to human, you'll talk, openly and honestly. It's how we met.
When we sat down opposite each other in 2016 and I came with my information, we just looked at each other, and we were like, oh, you're just a human being wants to know.
Once you have that connection, you'll talk openly and honestly. When you talk openly and honestly, you will understand. And that understanding deepens the connection.
That's the connective act. Now people are talking without the connection, and it's just this exchange of information. So they don't talk first.
They sit back. And from the moment the doors open, there's music. There's images on the screen. Two sides of stories, that people have never seen.
Whether it's edits I've seen in the news. Oh, yeah. That's what CNN ran. That's what Fox did side by side. And it constantly says, which edit do you see? Which edit do you not see?
And we're constantly running through history. Here's an edit you do know. And then it's before we even start the program, they're seeing, you're only -- that they're only seeing one edit.
GLENN: And so I would imagine, it's very important to let the audience know, that you're not trying to change them politically.
ROB: Not at all.
GLENN: You're just trying to say, you don't know the whole story, on both sides.
RIAZ: You don't know the whole story. And the whole story doesn't necessarily even matter when you are trying to fix things in your world. You and I did a podcast special a while ago, where we brought seven Americans together to talk about guns.
GLENN: It was so great.
RIAZ: And it just spiraled and spiraled, until the NRA firearms instructor and the Moms Demand Action woman spent time together, made a joke, and suddenly all the defenses were gone. Because they had connected. And they talked openly. And realized they were 90 percent there. When they were all in the room, guarded with their information.
GLENN: Before we started it, we were both concerned, this could be a nightmare.
GLENN: And by the end, I think the Marxist professor was like, this is great.
RIAZ: Yeah. Yeah. Because they stop seeing each other through screens. And the screens come at each other, all day every day.
And the way the screens work is for attention extraction is what they call it at Google. That's all they're doing. And so whatever you like, they'll send you more of it. If you're angry about this, they'll send you more.
Because the real facts are that anger makes money. The easiest shift to create in the human being is anger. What travels faster than any virus? Fear.
And so if the screens are constantly making you feel the world is burning constantly, then you're never going to be able to connect. But they make cha-ching. Cha-ching, cha-ching. More money the more you're watching.
And so we hard reset, the shared humanity of people in the room.
And it's very interesting, because at some time they start realizing, wait. I was going to say that. But I only know that from a screen. So we tell people, talk about what you know. Did you work on the front line of covid? Great. Tell us about that.
If you didn't, it's your time to sit back and listen. Because you received a screen edit that was designed to make you upset and angry. To look at more. To look at more. To look at more ads. And so I'm trying to get people -- the amazing thing, when people meet in the real world, they're constantly engaging people from what they know from the screen, which has little to no relevance to the person they're talking to.
GLENN: You -- the first one is happening, where? In Orange County?
RIAZ: Orange County, this Saturday. April 30th. I'm working with an organization called Civic Genius.
And I really was -- I was relentless when I was finding a partner that they didn't have a political affiliation. Because I cannot tell someone what the way they should think. I don't live their lives thousands and thousands of days as them.
GLENN: It's actually not the -- I shouldn't say that.
The problem is, people who are trying to tell people what to think.
GLENN: Not how to think. What to think. You will believe this. I don't care what side it's on. You believe this, and there's no compromise.
RIAZ: You must believe this. Or you're bad.
GLENN: Bad. That's what's killing us. That's what's killing us.
RIAZ: When you and I met years ago, I came in with this perception of what I thought you were. When I sat, the humanity kicked in, and we were able to talk. All I want, the whole point of this is I just want people fighting in their families. Fighting in their communities. If you can't sit down with the people in your community, to solve your problems. No one wins.
GLENN: So what age-group?
RIAZ: This is mostly 18 and over. But 18 to 80. It can be anyone.
GLENN: Okay. And when you go, do you have to participate, or can you just watch?
RIAZ: You can. So everyone sits, and everything is designed, the way the seats are set up. The way the screen works. It's all highly, highly produced. So everyone sits in this very large -- so there's no hiding in the back.
GLENN: Like an AA meeting.
RIAZ: It's like -- you can't go anywhere. You must stay.
But not everyone speaks, and who speaks is random. It's actually done through a way, inside the pouches. Some people have a chip, and some people don't. And the people who have blue chips have to stand up, and then they have a conversation. It's a way --
GLENN: So you're not speaking to -- I mean, you are speaking in front of the whole group. But you're not speaking and having interaction with the whole group.
GLENN: The whole group is kind of channeling it through different conversations.
RIAZ: Correct. Correct. And we say it's one story told between two worlds. One is the real world. All of us in the room. And the other is all the media we have on the screen. And so the screen plays a large part in it, with edits and media coming at the audience, showing them, well, what is true?
Because if this is true on the screen, it can't be true in the real world. We're constantly juxtaposing the two. And it really ends up being this mind-blowing hard reset.
GLENN: So are you going to have video there? Okay.
Can you return maybe, and show me some video. And give me the results of what this happened.
RIAZ: We can. We actually have two tests on the website. ConnectEffect.us, under testimonials. One, we took women. And we said, if women, once connected, could they solve each other's most deep, challenging questions? So we took these total strangers. Didn't know each other, connected them. And they're reading these unbelievable questions. Like, why am I single my whole life? Why would I draw men that would abuse me?
And the audience helps them find the answer. It's incredible.
GLENN: That's unbelievable.
RIAZ: Because all that happens is, we have a problem. We go to an expert. We have a problem, we go to an expert.
Diagnosis. Medicated. Sometimes we just need the opinions of other people, and social buffering. And that doesn't exist anymore.
So that was one test. The other was at a university. Because we have students at a university, afraid of each other, not just physically, but ideologically. And so we thought, could we take students, once connected after 60 minutes, would they be open to the other side's ideology, and you look at the video, they were. They saw the whole thing differently. And they realized that all these people in the real world, in the room, are not the enemies, that they perceive coming through the edits.
GLENN: So how do you get people to -- I mean, are you just traveling the country. Are you asking for places to host you?
RIAZ: We are.
We are looking for organizations, churches, synagogues, anywhere where people have stopped talking, which is pretty much everywhere.
RIAZ: We're looking. And it's not just led by me.
It's a system that's replicated and designed to be done by many people. The system is called epic.
Forbes described, it was a game changer, a few years ago.
It's a different way of approaching people, that you have to engage through equalization, that's the E.
If I don't look at you as an equal, what are we talking about?
Like, why am I talking to you, if I don't think you're an equal. And beyond that, the P is personalization. I don't care what you read. Because whatever you read, I've got -- you've got stats, I've got stats. You've got articles, I've got articles. Now we go nowhere. What do you know? What have you experienced of racism? What have you experienced of suffering? That's what I need to know, but if you keep bringing -- I kept bridging these conversations. And I had seven people in the room, and 480 opinions. And suddenly Nancy Pelosi was there. Mitch McConnell. And I said, why are they in the room? They certainly won't be helping you fix your problem in the school. Then it's personalization. Then information gathering. The thing I tell people, stop talking about what you know. We know what you know. Ask people, what do I not know?
GLENN: That is -- I think that is one of the real keys to -- if people say, I can't talk to them. Or I want to just -- I need to change their mind. If you're approaching a conversation that way, you are saying to don't, they don't have anything of value, to teach me.
GLENN: And when you both exchange that, just the basic thing. And I don't mean stats. I mean you as a person. How do you get there?
As soon as you get there, things change.
RIAZ: I always ask people, why are we not cyclopses? Why do we have two eyes that do the exact same thing? Not even an inch and a half apart? Because that's the only way to see depth and perspective. So I tell people, look at the world, with your view. You need the other view to see the world in two dimensions. You have to know, what you don't know. Constantly coming to TheBlaze, and you and I would sit down, whether we were traveling on a project. And I would learn so much about the world, that I never knew. And vice-versa.
GLENN: Likewise. Likewise.
RIAZ: And it was the only way I saw things with depth, it was no longer a two-dimensional edit. In the screen world. It was three-dimensional in the real world.
GLENN: I was thinking about this a lot lately. We have to wrap up. The Scripture, there must be opposition in all things.
RIAZ: All things. There must be.
GLENN: We don't want to argue. And we have to agree to one side. No. There must be opposition.
RIAZ: Solutions, yes.
GLENN: And to see depth. Riaz. Thank you so much. You can find out more on this. At connecteffect.us. That's connecteffect.us.