Dangers of an Echo Chamber

userpic=bushbabyWhile my wife takes a nap, a few thoughts that have been bubbling through my head whilst reading Facebook….

A big problem today is the echo chamber we tend to live in. Facebook, understandably, wants us to spend more time on the site reading things. They do this by serving us more of the things we like, and we tend to like what our friends have to say, and perhaps what their friends say, and perhaps what they like. This has the side effect of making us see only a narrow view of the world, usually from those who tend to agree with us. We also tend to share news that we like, and that makes us read only from sources that tend to agree with our worldview.

Now, add to that the problem that it is difficult to know more and more what is true news media, what is blogs, what is opinion, and what is satire. We read from biased news sources — on both sides — without realizing they are biased. We read opinion as fact. We read satire as fact. We believe everything we read — especially the hyperbole — as true. More so when we read it on the Internet.

Further, the more we see statements from different sources, the more we believe it is true. It could be a complete biased falsehood, but repeated enough and with enough authority, it becomes truth. Or truthy. Or something like that.

What does that mean? We don’t see the real world. Those of us who are Clinton supporters don’t see what the other side is seeing about Trump in the positive, and Clinton in the negative. Those who are Trump supporters don’t see his negatives and Clinton’s positives. We don’t talk to each other, we talk across each other. This isn’t good. It can lead to complacency, especially when what you are seeing are only biased polls — that can lead you to fail to keep up the effort so that the right candidate wins.

I urge you: break out of that echo chamber. Occasionally see what your friends on the other side are seeing. Learn what are neutral news sources, and what is biased, and work to filter out that biased. Don’t discuss to convince, but to educate. Most importantly, have an open mind. You don’t need to agree with all you read, but you need to hear it.

[And, for the political aside on this: This is a clear difference between the candidates. Clinton extensively listens and learns. Trump appears to listen and react negatively when what he hears disagrees with him or his world view. Candidates, too, can live in an echo chamber. For some, that’s the only place they want to live, and that can be dangerous.]

[And, as a PS: It is also important to understand who may be reading your post. Unless you specifically restrict a post, block a user, or restrict your writing venue properly, you must assume that it is public, and that anyone may be reading it (whether you like it or not). I see that with political posts all the time: if you share an opinion on a candidate, and you are smart to have a diverse set of friends with diverse opinions, you’ll get a good dialogue going. Different venues have different ways of restricting visibility, and some are quite public. Twitter, in particular, is out there in the open for everyone to see stupidity, or profound responses, on display.]