Opening your echo chamber

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 3, 2012, 11:50 PM | comments: 0

One of the things I've noticed, when I compare me to college me, is how much I've changed in terms of my views on the world. Politics in particular are entirely different to me. Back then I would probably describe my views as leaning liberal (though in some places, like that college, I might as well have been an extreme lefty by comparison to everyone else). These days, I tend to still lean left on a lot of social issues, but right on a lot of fiscal issues. More importantly, I feel like I've evolved beyond cheerleading for one side or the other. In fact, I'm tired of everyone picking sides when both tend to be mostly full of shit. What kind of rational person agrees with one-side group-think?

I think this process is mostly just growing up. Time and experience steers your opinions in a way that invites you to identify possibilities you haven't considered before. You take in more information.

The problem though, especially with regard to politics, is that people tend to place themselves in an echo chamber. The easiest way to validate what you believe is not only to not question it or reevaluate it, but to surround yourself with information and people who agree with you. Fox "News" has made a business counting on that.

In a culture as divisive and toxic as the one we live in, this is particularly disappointing, because we're in an age where we carry computers in our pockets connected to a network that contains nearly all of human knowledge. It's not even that hard to find. But still, people pick a team and stick with it, instead of being a free agent.

Despite my frustration with the echo chamber phenomenon, I do think it will get better. I've noticed this year that, in my circle of friends, most aren't really willing to commit to a presidential candidate in a fanatical way, even if they do know they'll vote for one or the other. If more people continue to arrive at the conclusion that a lot of problems are complex and hard to solve, and certainly not summarized in sound bites, there is hope.


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