Bring balance to your feed: Why we should break out of our echo chambers on social media

Social media closes us into communities and closes our minds. It is our job to restore balance and understanding when we engage with others on these platforms.

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Photo by Sophia Novelo

When you’re sucked into echo chambers, it’s difficult to get out. Fortunately, there are ways to open yourself up to more ideas than just your own when scrolling through your feed.

The social media giants inherently want to connect people from around the world. Their community based platforms allow us to share snippets of our lives through videos, photos, dialogues, and art. By creating platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, many were able to accomplish that mission. However, under all of these opportunities to learn and connect with others, there is a darker side to social media. Users are not only connecting, but are being manipulated and controlled by the constant feed of personalized content. This, of course, does more harm than good. It makes our world even more divided.
“I feel like our generation strives to be and do better by educating others and talking about important topics, which can help us get a step closer to being united. At the same time, it can cause division, since everyone has different opinions and views. However, as I mentioned before, this generation has a sort of tactic to help others (with different opinions) empathize, which will hopefully help us unite little by little,” Isabella Siqueria (10) said.
Social media platforms actually profit from their users’ confirmation biases. Confirmation bias is a person’s natural way of interpreting and remembering specific information that lines up with their beliefs. With everything being so targeted to individuals and their pre-existing political ideologies, people tend to increase engagement because they are surrounded with ideas that they share and feel strongly about. These platforms need this type of engagement for their financial gain, and for the sake of their companies, so they chose to spoon feed the same reiterated ideas to their users, leaving them no room to learn and be open-minded. The action of taking in things that you enjoy or agree with can be very addictive. That hooks the user. The repeated provision of highly individualized information can absorb people, leaving them trapped in their own echo chambers.
“Echo chambers are an issue for the ignorant. If you let yourself only consume one type of media and never look into other things or see other people’s opinions that’s on you… you’re creating this bubble that you [can] never leave. It’s not hard to be competent enough to look into other people’s opinions, that’s like the whole point of having opinions… everyone has a different one,” Milo Bennet (10) stated.
It’s no secret that social media has an intense algorithm that records your beliefs, thoughts, and opinions, articulating that into your preferred content. There is a way, however, to break this chain, and escape the echo chambers that social media has packaged us into. One of the more simple ways to do this is to confuse the algorithm by liking posts or following accounts that you normally wouldn’t. This provides a variety to your feed and can expose you to different opinions that aren’t your own, leaving you less ignorant and more open to have deep, understanding conversations with others. Another simple way to do this is to look at content from all across the political board. From liberal publications such as CNN and MSNBC, to central publications like USA Today and BBC, or to more conservative publications like FOX News, exposing yourself to every outlet can allow you to acquire perspectives from all sides.
“I definitely take a look at CNN and CNBC for statistics and things like that, and sometimes I look at FOX news to see what they’re saying. I like to listen to what they have to say as long as it’s not something I totally disagree with, and sort of hear them out and try to put myself in their shoes,” Alana Winn (10) said.
Today, we are constantly stimulated by social media, and we consume information far faster than any other generation. With that power, though, must come great responsibility. We cannot allow the way we navigate in social media and other sources of information to divide us and restrict us from listening to each other’s viewpoints. We need to utilize the power that we evidently have to learn and grow from people around us. We must break out of these destructive habits and reinstate balance within our feeds and within our lives.