written by SIM
Were you shocked that so many people supported the Trump presidency? Do you find yourself pushing away people with differing perspectives? Finding your newsfeed a bit predictable? This could be happening because you are stuck in an echo chamber. The echo chamber is a social situation where you are surrounded by people who agree with you in most (if not all) the things you believe in. It's dangerous because it leads to damaging relationships, polarized social groups, and overall poor social interactions. If you ever wondered how a pitchfork wielding mob forms in a movie, this is how it happens. Breaking the echo chamber is crucial to a balanced well-being and a healthy society.
The algorithm in our social media newsfeed distributes information that we already tend to agree with. We're finding ourselves increasingly insular and intolerant of others. Studies have shown that this happens because we generally view ourselves as a 'good' people. When we hear about new thoughts, the needle on our compass of right and wrong starts immediately spinning toward a particular direction. When we agree with something we automatically ascribe it into our understanding of the reality around us; everything else is discarded. This, in turn, leads to cognitive dissonance; where we inherit disjointed ideas that upon further introspection, we're finding they don't make sense and unable to explain it to others because we never fully understood it to begin with.
Locking people into echo chambers has been a tool used by oppressive governments to stifle dissenting ideas in society. The tricky part of echo chambers is that most people don't even realize they are part of it. It takes an active effort by an individual to explore different perspectives. It requires setting your biases and emotions aside and actively listening to another perspective and discovering why people hold the beliefs they do.