One thing I’ve noticed recently is that … we all now live in our own echo chambers
It’s an accusation that keeps cropping up these days – the sad fact that we all now live in our own echo chambers. I’ve given this matter some thought. And my feeling is that this is fair comment. Social media has exacerbated the problem. It feeds on itself.
A good example is political discussion on FB – and the issue of Brexit in particular. You can see here how people draw the like-minded unto themselves and woe betide anyone who disagrees. If you raise your head above the parapet and make counter-arguments, you’ll either get shot down (often viciously and with foul language) or, worse, completely ignored. The reason most people post about politics is to get warm, fuzzy agreement. This makes us all feel better, of course. But it doesn’t help with reasoned debate. Or democracy. To be fair, I have occasionally seen reasoned, democratic debate on social media, but it is rare and in decline. Rather, it is mainly a place for people to reinforce stereotypes, get exactly the feedback they want to hear, and cosy up to others of the same ilk. If you get enough of your friends agreeing with you – then you must be right. Mustn’t you?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m probably just as guilty of this as the next person. It’s human nature. But it’s a bit of a trap this echo chamber. Far from widening our horizons, I think it’s making us batten down the hatches. It polarises views. Perhaps social media has the effect of magnifying, or even distorting, the human condition. We’ve all seen people say things over the ether that they wouldn’t dream of saying face to face.
So one of my New Year’s resolutions will be to avoid the echo chamber. To try even harder to see the other person’s viewpoint – and to think it through properly rather than rejecting it out of hand. I may still reject it, of course, but hopefully only after reasoned debate – in my own head or with others.
And I’m going to try to apply this thinking to my reading and writing too. I’m going to try to escape from my own echo chamber of genres and authors. And I’d add movies into that mix as well.
So I’m going to ditch the echo chamber in 2017 and instead use the sounding board – the biggest sounding board I can muster. One that can reflect, or receive, worldwide … from Greenbank to The Gambia. Anything that is the antithesis of an echo chamber.
Liz Sandbach 8/12/16