After watching the TED talk on media bubbles and polarization in class, I decided to sift through all of my social media feeds just to see what I might find. At first I noticed that I only see posts and news from people whose posts I had previously liked or people from my fraternity. Then I looked more closely and came to the conclusion that my Facebook and twitter feeds consist largely of three things: sports, posts from friends, and a more left winged news.
This was largely different from what I considered my online profile to look like. Sure posts form friends and some news are unavoidable but I didn’t realize how much sports news I’m constantly fed. Other than MLB news, all of my news feeds show a majority of NHL, NBA and college football news. I don’t even read most of it but that’s what I’ve exposed myself to. Hailing from Detroit I mostly just want to see anything related to their professional sports teams (however saddening it might be) and husker sports information. Now I constantly see news from other Big Ten teams and from other major sports teams.
Honestly this was kind of a wake-up call as far as what content I feed myself. I love sports but after my epiphany I went out and followed BBC and other world news outlets, as well as most of the politicians running for president. Hopefully now I’ll see some more socially challenging material on my news feeds and get two sided information on the upcoming election.
As far as how I choose who and what to follow, I usually only follow things I want to see. Sticking to comedy, sports, food, and light news as opposed to the war or stocks. I’ll check up on those things as need be but they are not yet something I check every day. I’m hoping my experiment with following some presidential candidate answers whether I can tolerate views opposite my own on my newsfeed. Chances are I won’t but it is worth a shot.
I do agree that a decline in dissoi logoi is responsible for increased polarization in situations where it occurs. People want to hear what they want to hear. So naturally they are going to want to see things they agree with as opposed to things they don’t. Especially on social media and other outlets they check multiple times today.
However, I think there are some advantages to this polarization IF people can express their views and talk about them in a respectful way. If you are constantly exposed to the same side of information, hopefully you will learn a lot about it and if you follow the right things it’ll be accurate too. People meeting with this enhanced level of information on a topic could hopefully better come to conclusions and compromises.
To engage in dissoi logoi myself, I will continue to follow the news outlets and politicians I did today for the rest of April and after that I’ll decide what I want and what I don’t want. I’m excited to see how it goes.