April 21, 2017

One side effect of an echo chamber: tunnel vision. Credit: jo.sau / Flickr Creative Commons

With social media, it’s easy to latch on to ideas or beliefs that are similar to our own. But, too often, we surround ourselves with echo chambers in which groupthink trumps the desire to challenge assumptions.

Cass Sunstein, a Harvard law professor and author of the book, #Republic: Divided Democracy In The Age Of Social Media, says social media has contributed to political polarization in the country by making it far easier and faster to develop “informational cocoons.”

Three Takeaways:

  • Sunstein says that where we live does influence the echo chambers we create, but people are innately curious, and geography shouldn’t prevent us from seeking out new information. “There’s a ton of diversity out there, with respect to taste for information,” he notes.
  • It’s crucial, says Sunstein, to try to read outside of your echo chamber, even if you end up disagreeing with a particular point or belief. “To know what your fellow citizens think is a good thing, if only so that you have a sense of what your society is like,” he explains.
  • Facebook needs to make changes to its newsfeed, according to Sunstein, who says it contributes to the echo-chamber effect.

More Reading:

Cass Sunstein, Culture, politics, social media, Kara Miller

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