Monday, May 1, 2017

Extra Credit: Popping the Filter Bubble

On Earth Day, I attended the March for Science held on campus. We started at the Union and walked all the way to the Capitol building. 

Once I got there I was a little nervous. I had never been to any kind of march or rally before this, and I didn't know what to expect. However, what did play out was beyond anything that I could have imagined.

Due to the sheer number of people in attendance, I did not feel comfortable being in the midst of it all, so myself along with other more social awkward individuals hung back in the crowd and brought up the rear. As a result, things were much quieter and it was easier to get to know more people. As we all were marching conversation ensured.

I started talking to a younger man, around my age whose name I truthfully cannot remember, about why we were here. I told him that I have always loved the outdoors and wanted to take care of it, but he told me that he was here to spite his parent. To be honest, I was confused. Why would you come out here just to spite your parents? Couldn't you do it in a much easier way? So of course, feeling brave from all the excitement around us, I asked him. He told me that he was raised a strict catholic all of his life. His parents are intensely conservative, voted for Trump, and vehemently disagree with the idea of climate change, and that it took him years to push away from their ideals and fight his own battle. After hearing this I was shocked; coming from Minnesota, a majority blue state, I didn't realize my lack of exposure to non-liberal ideas until I came here. I remember telling myself, "People actually believe that stuff?" And that is when it hit me; I have been living in my own liberal filter bubble for my entire life. 

I was born in Chicago, IL but moved to Woodbury, MN (a suburb outside of the Twin Cities) when I was 3. As a result, I have little to no memory of my life before Minnesota. And coming to school in Nebraska, a predominately red state, I didn't realize how little exposure I had to opposing viewpoints until they were right there in my face. I have been surrounded by liberals my entire life.

It took 19 years, and this boy (whose name I still cannot remember) to pop the filter bubble I didn't know I was stuck in. And while I do view myself as tolerant and open to hearing opposing viewpoints, I can't help but ask myself if I truly am. Exposure and discussion is critical to democracy, but more importantly we need to realize where our filter bubbles lie in order to pop them. 

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