Thursday, March 31, 2016

Filter Bubbles & Echo Chambers

In my POLS 230 last semester we actually discussed the idea of an echo chamber or filter bubble that social media creates as far as political views.  We all agreed unanimously that our social media feeds (mainly Facebook) have become echo chambers of our own views.  I believe as do many others that social media plays such a large role in the increasing political polarization of the US.  We all continue to see more and more information that agrees with what we already believe, but a lot of people don't even realize that other views have disappeared from their newsfeeds (like me until it was discussed in a class).

While the algorithm could be to blame, we are the ones choosing to click on links that agree with our own views and ignore opposing views; the algorithm just adjusts to these actions.  We do it to ourselves, but isn't it in our nature to want to see things that we agree with and boost our ego that we're right in what we believe?
As for my own filter bubble, I do encounter mostly articles and links that coincide with my own views.  However, after talking about this last semester I've made more of a conscious effort to seek out more information and unbiased news sources that are just factual.  Facebook has already created a newsfeed full of things that I agree with, so I mostly go to outside sources for actual news.
While this idea of an echo chamber can seem scary for our future, some say that while social media has the power to deepen our political party divide, it doesn't always do this.  In a New York Times article it makes the point that we can also inadvertantly be exposed to other viewpoints through social media that over time may make us more moderate.
I think the main point to be made is that we shouldn't rely on just social media to get our news and information.  It can be a good starting point but we need to seek out other sources too.  We can't put all the blame on social media, but need to take ownership as technology continues to advance.

Also, there has been a decline in dissoi logoi, which means there are two sides to every argument.  Some of this can be attributed to our increasingly polarized social networks.  Also, people are so connected to their devices that they just have less face to face interactions with others.  Surprisingly on social networks people are less likely to speak out about something and this cyber world is where most attention is focused.  The decline in dissoi logoi in our everyday lives can't just be blamed on social networks.  I think that some of it just comes from our changing society.  I almost hate to bring this up, but I believe something else that plays into this is our increasing need for political correctness.  Everyone is afraid of offending others.  But argument doesn't have to be aimed at offending but rather learning by being open to other viewpoints.
The biggest step that can be taken to engage in dissoi logoi more is just to look away from our screens and pay more attention to the world outside of technology and social media.  We need to be more conscious of the people around us to have intellectual disagreements.

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