It’s time to open the gates. We are all guilty of living in an echo chamber and the worst part is that it’s difficult to escape it. Why? Confirmation Bias. We have a natural tendency to seek information that confirms our already existing beliefs. This is easy when everything you’re reading is designed to align with your beliefs. It’s a huge topic and there are so many fascinating studies. Seriously, I enjoyed looking it all up and I suggest anybody reading this do the same.
Where is the Echo Chamber?
That’s the scary part. It’s everywhere, really. Most readers will be using a platform like Facebook or Twitter and statistically, a large number of us actually use these platforms to get news. It’s a trend that’s continuing to climb. These social platforms are designed to show you news that aligns with your beliefs whilst not doing much to avoid the presence of fake news.
Now, I know that fake news is being mentioned all over the place at the moment — promoted primarily by President Trump. However, it is an alarming issue. Mark Zuckerberg himself has mentioned that it’s a problem Facebook are trying to thwart.
Every news article you read on Facebook is most likely tailored to your beliefs. If you follow pages that align with your own political belief, you’ll understandably be shown such content. This strengthens your beliefs in ways that weren’t really possible in the past because now you can get validation from thousands or hundreds of thousands of like-minded people.
An equally large problem lies within the advertising and sponsorship of posts. People can target you based on your beliefs. This creates a newsfeed that’s purposely curated to show you content that people want you to see because they know you’ll agree or buy into their beliefs or products.
Why is this a bad thing?
You might not consider an echo chamber to be a bad thing. I’d strongly argue against that. Having validation for your beliefs is important but I believe that opening your thoughts for discussion and debate is more important. If everybody were to be 100% concrete about their ideas and beliefs, I don’t think we’d make any progress as a society.
I think that if we are to grow, we need to communicate. We need to change, adapt and learn. If somebody says something that you disagree with, don’t just insult them, talk to them. Heck, shout at them if you have to. Ignorance is the worst form of communication.
If you’re surrounded by people that validate your beliefs and you don’t open yourself up to new perspectives, you’re going to be looking at the world through a microscope.
How can I escape the chamber?
It should be a simple solution but I don’t really know the answer, so it’s going to have to be a guess by sharing what I do. I like to think of myself as an open-minded individual or at least as an individual who’s trying to be open-minded. I do have some strong opinions about some specific topics but I consider myself able to change those opinions in the future.
When you follow a page that aligns with your beliefs, whether that be political or news-related, try and actively go and follow a page that has the completely opposite alignment. If you followed a left-wing page, go and follow a right-winged one. I’ve been doing this for a while now and a lot of the content I see comes from both sides and I’m able to do a little more research before making my own personal opinions on a topic.
That’s not to say that we should uproot and sit on the fence with all our opinions. It’s more just a way for us to check multiple sources and ultimately improve our perspective on the topics.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic and if you actively try to avoid living in an echo chamber yourself.
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