Leaving the Echo Chamber

Its easier than ever to become trapped in an echo chamber of your own views, being dragged further into your mindset by social media algorithms.

Living in this modern age of information, the place that can deliver news the quickest and most efficiently is the one that will dominate the marketplace of ideas. Being a young person, the quickest path for information is social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, where news can be instantly relayed and discussed worldwide as it happens. The power to share news and live events has never been stronger. 

This power however, is not without its setbacks and limitations. What you see online is controlled and monitored by computer algorithms, designed to show you posts and articles will appeal to you, based off metadata that is collected from you while you browse the web. Although designed to be benefit you, this has the unintentional effect of trapping you in a bubble of agreeing opinions while shielding you from any conflicting ideologies; putting you in “idealogical isolation”. This narrow view that we are shown is counter-productive to making us informed and balanced members of society.

“Social Media sites magnify what is already one of the most basic human instincts- to seek out people who are similar and to avoid those who are different”- Robb Willer, a social psychologist at Stanford University.

This is a problem that results in real world issues. The division that has arisen after the 2016 US elections cast a spotlight on the importance of breaking your social media bubble, with many people feeling confused and angry with the result of the vote. This is due to many reporting that during the campaign, that they rarely heard from people with opposing views when obtaining their news online. 

So how do we break out of the bubble? In my case, its been the most effective to not settle for reading a news story once. Because the chances are, you’ve just read that news story from a site that was recommended to you on your Twitter feed, or your Facebook wall, or was selected by an aggregate app based on your previous browsing history. To get a more balanced outlook,  make a point out of looking at places you’d never get news from, from a writer that has the opposite political leaning from you, by following someone that hates the football team that you idolise, or listen to a person when they tell you that cats are better than dogs. 

Its not easy to break out of a comfortable social space, where you are surrounded by complimentary opinions and views. But in order to be the most informed and balanced people we can be, we must be challenged as much as possible by the news we consume, leading to debate that really makes a difference.