Monday, April 3, 2017

Filter Bubbles and Social Media

I grew up about 20 minutes west of Portland, Oregon where I was constantly surrounded by things and ideas that might seem like overkill to even the most liberal democrats. Most people don’t know that Oregon is actually fairly conservative, especially in the southeastern part of the state, but Portland generally gets to be the voice for the entire state even if their ideals don’t line up with everyone else’s. In the last seven election Oregon has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee, it currently has two Democratic senators, four out of five House representatives are Democrats, the past three governors have been Democrats and it has a Democratic-controlled Legislature. Most of the people I was surrounded by considered themselves Democrats, just like the vast majority of Portland, and a lot of them are still on my social media feeds.
My dad’s side of the family is from central Nebraska, arguably one of the most conservative states in the country. The beef state voted for a Republican president the last seven elections, has two Republican senators, three out of three House representatives are Republicans, the two out of past three governors have been Republicans but it has nonpartisan Legislature. I spent many summers near Broken Bow, near Custer County, many of the people I met or am related to are also in my social media feeds every day.
            I like to think that I grew up with a good mix of both sides and getting to see both views. While I don’t consider myself purple, I definitely lean to one side more than the other, I couldn’t imagine unfollowing, unfriending or blocking every person that had a different ideological view than I do, I would make some friends and family a little bit mad if I did. I believe that seeing both sides of the issue, like dissoi logoi, or at least two different sides, forces me to open my eyes more and form my own opinions on it.
            Some people don’t currently see things this way, they only want to be surrounded by people and information that reaffirms their ideas and beliefs. It is thought this is part of the reason Trump is now sitting in the White House, because while the filter bubble isn’t a new notion, it’s currently easier than ever to achieve. When people segregate themselves from other information, they also risk cutting off their access to accurate information. One of the biggest concerns with it is that citizens have no common basis for agreement or connection when their flows of information are so polarized; a phenomenon intensified by a fragmented media landscape and advanced personalization technology. But there is hope, people like Bill Gates believe that while this is a big problem, it will self-correct over time.


No comments:

Post a Comment