Have you ever found yourself clicking through stories on a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter, only to realize you’re surrounded in an echo-chamber of ideas? Whether it’s politics, social circles, lifestyle, or philosophy, the things that we don’t agree with or that challenge our thought patterns make us uncomfortable.
As a result, more and more people have filtered out information and individualsthat challenges their perception and gravitated toward a group that echoes their thoughts. Want to learn more and figure out how to avoid the pitfall yourself? Read on.
How the Internet Traps Us in a Bubble
A filter bubble is a term established by Eli Pariser, an internet activist who believes that online algorithms used by Facebook and other websites are pushing us toward isolation. These algorithms assume what we want to see by using information like our location, search history, and previous online actions. These algorithms construct our online experience (who shows up in your Facebook newsfeed most often, for example).
This phenomenon often leads to one-sided information exposure, or a bubble. Technology increasingly pushes us toward similarly-minded individuals, pushing groupthink and allowing easier spreading of unreliable media. Confirmation bias allows us to search until we find the exact information that supports our feelings or theories rather than exploring and accepting arguments that are contrary to our beliefs.
Pariser warns that a filtered search on platforms like Google “closes us off to new ideas, subjects, and important information.” Many individuals are unaware that data like their previous online actions or physical location is contributing to the results they receive in their web browser, making these algorithms even more dangerous.
How to Keep an Open Mind
In the real world, it can be simple to find new viewpoints. If you live in a luxury apartment, stop by one of the social events or visit a common area, and you’re sure to find people different than you with various ideologies.
Online, however, it’s not easy to avoid all of the pitfalls associated with our favorite social media like Twitter and Facebook, but it’s possible. First and foremost, try to avoid getting news from these platforms. Find a reasonably objective news media like the BBC.
Next, go through your Facebook interests and determine which might be pushing you toward one extreme echo chamber or another. Delete those interests and do your best to reach out to a middle ground or even find opposing ideologies to expand your viewpoints. Don’t immediately unfriend someone you disagree with. If they are any level of civil, you can talk and find out why they feel the way they do. Finally, do your best to avoid reading and spreading fake news. Do thorough research on new information before you share it, especially if you think it’s going to help confirm your viewpoints.