From Class Project to Social Change: Three College Students Launch “Let’s Talk About It”

What started out as a class project for University of Florida seniors Tyler Ellman, Sammy Silverstein and Ariana Gonzalez transformed into a passion project, with the hope to change the way that we discuss politics and world events.

On December 6, the trio launched “Let’s Talk About It,”  a Facebook page created for the purpose of helping others connect and have productive conversations on politics and current events. “The goal is to create an online and in person discussion on political and societal views,” Ellman told us.

Ellman, Silverstein, and Gonzalez wanted to create a forum for people to share their perspectives in a hate-free environment using social media. Although “Let’s Talk About It” is only on Facebook at the moment, Ellman says he hopes to expand the forum to other platforms in the future.

“When you have two people with different political views, you have a debate. And that’s not a productive conversation, in my opinion,” he said. “The goal is to understand viewpoints that conflict with our own,” he continued.  Silverstein added: “There is a fundamental difference between a debate and conversation and that is the goal. A debate is about winning or changing someone’s mind, but a conversation is about understanding. Our goal is to have people come together and understand viewpoints that conflict with their own.”

Ellman said he was inspired to create “Let’s Talk About It” after conservative pundit Ben Shapiro came to University of Florida to speak. At the event, Shapiro began talking about rape culture on college campuses, and was debunking the statistic that one of four women on college campuses are raped. When Ellman asked Shapiro about his argument, the two began discussing their different views. “It was so cool to see people actually give their opinions, and I thought—what if we did that, too?” he said. 

Before launching the page, Ellman, Silverstein, and Gonzalez hosted focus groups with 5-10 students from all different backgrounds, races, religions, sexualities, and political views. Despite their differences, Ellman said the unique group was civil and able to discuss these critical issues in a professional, hate-free environment.

Now that the page is launched, Ellman hopes to keep viewers engaged while also sharing an equal amount of liberal and conservative content and videos to prompt discussion and thought from their audience.

Although Ellman graduates in just a few weeks, he has no plans to stop “Let’s Talk About It” and hopes to keep the momentum going long past graduation. “Hopefully, we can keep expanding. Even though I’m not going to be in Gainsville, I can still meet more people and stimulate more conversation(s),” he said.

Get involved and get talking about it using #WeAreTogethering, the page’s official hashtag.