Monday, September 29, 2014

What John Mayer Has to Say About the Filter Bubble

        Before our discussion on the "filter bubble" in class,  I was not even aware of its existence. I believed that I was essentially my own information gatekeeper - following and unfollowing personas on Twitter based on what I want to see on my feed. On Facebook, I encountered the occasional post from a friend or relative with a differing opinion, but never went as far as to unfriend them. However, rarely did I ever pay close attention to what they had to say. Essentially, I was hindering my own participation in dissoi logoi without even realizing it.
        I am guilty, as I am sure many others are, of filtering my own information intake. If I google search a question and find an answer that does not satisfy my opinion, often I will close out of that page in search of a more fitting answer that reinforces my beliefs. The same goes for television. Rarely do I view news channels that pose differing opinions than my own. I do my best to listen to the "other side," as dissoi logoi would prefer, but in the end why should I? Now to answer that question, I most certainly should, but media today allows us to not have to. This can be a dangerous mindset on its own, and in combination with the "filter bubble" being utilized by media companies like Google, Facebook, Buzz Feed, etc... , this becomes an even greater threat to dissoi logoi.
        These personalized "filter bubbles," created by the self and outside forces, can often lead to polarization. This can be seen in the politics within our own state, Nebraska. It is obvious that the majority of voters in Nebraska lean towards the conservative side. With filter bubbles in play, the voice of the minority (liberals in this case), is often drowned out. However, polarization can also occur within the same political party. Candidates are criticized for not being conservative or liberal enough. An example of this can be found here. Shane Osborn, a Republican candidate running for the senate is attacked by his own party - claiming that he is not conservative enough and therefore not right for Nebraska. In my opinion, I do see polarization becoming more and more of a problem. According to dissoi logoi, the best rhetor is one that understands both sides of his or her argument. Theoretically, the best candidate for an election would be one that satisfies ideals from both parties. But the more time people spend in their comfortable filter bubbles, the less accepting they become of opposing opinions. This translates into the voting process, preventing a more balanced candidate from getting elected.
        The only way this problem can be fixed, is if we actively participate in dissoi logoi. You may not always agree with what someone else has to say, but you can always learn something from them. There are a number of actions we can take to engage in dissoi logoi:

1. Step out of your comfort zone

        I know this is an obvious one, but in today's society, "comfort zone" has a whole new meaning. The filter bubble is the new comfort zone. Nearly every bit of information we receive can be personalized and tailored to our likings. If we do not actively seek out and avoid these filters, then dissoi logoi will be lost. gives us 10 ways we can "pop" the filter bubble.

2. Consider the other side
        There are numerous ways to go about doing this. One example would be to watch two news channels with opposing viewpoints. However, be careful when doing so because, as John Mayer tells us in Waiting on the World to Change, "And when you trust your television, what you get is what you got. 'Cause when they own the information oh, they can bend it all they want." This is yet another example of how media can filter its information. So for the best results, it is wise to gather information from a number of different mediums, such as newspapers, television, and online articles. (If you have not heard the John Mayer song, I strongly recommend clicking on the link and doing so)

3. Implement dissoi logoi on a regular basis
        This can be as simple as striking up a conversation at the dinner table, with friends, or blogging about it! No one will benefit from dissoi logoi unless we discuss it. This can often result in an argument, but that is not always a bad thing. We learn from these arguments.


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