I was speaking to a professor from SUNY a few years ago at a conference. In the conversation, I expressed some of the benefits of social media (see my earlier post: BrockStout.org July 20 post) for one example.
My colleague was less optimistic. He felt that we are ideologically separating. In other words, I connect to (and follow) those who believe the same way I do. So do you. We expose ourselves to ideas that confirm our views. We don’t hear new ideas that might benefit us, because they are not on our feed or in our inboxes. I don’t want Snapchat stories or Instagram photos about ideas with which I disagree. So I don’t connect with people who share weird views.
Bad news: internet algorithms make it worse. Internet activist Eli Pariser coined the term filter bubble to describe how algorithms filter what we see, based on personal preferences. One person googles “Hillary Clinton” and receives news stories about the need for more female politicians. Another person googles “Hillary Clinton” and sees reports about deception and conspiracy. The point: your bias is not the problem, the system is the problem.
So even if we eliminate racial and religious prejudice, we might end up in a real civil war.
I’m not predicting a catastrophe. Our global rejection of idealogical diversity is enough of tragedy.
You don’t need to switch religions or join a revolution or drink more imported bottled water. You don’t need to hug 1,000 people from 1,000 nationalities. But you can listen to what weird people say.
Maybe you think you are listening. But you are not, unless you are making a conscious, strenuous effort to expose yourself to unique ideas. You are missing an opportunity to improve your divergent thinking skills and become more creative.