I recently entered into a conversation on Facebook. Another social media influencer had posted his opinion on the abortion debate that started with Alabama.
The conversation was staying civil. He and his wife were on one side of the fence. I was on the other side.
For me, that’s okay. I can take disagreement. I can listen to someone who opposes my views and consider their argument. Then something happened.
I logged into Facebook. I checked my notifications. And there were no new notifications from this conversation.
Then I did something I shouldn’t have done. I searched for the Facebook friend. When I couldn’t find his page, I found the URL for his Facebook page and tried to access it. I received the following message:
Hmmm… Is Facebook broken? Nope. Something else had happened.
My opposing view got me the ban hammer by this friend. He chose to no longer engage in the conversation. He chose to make his Facebook page an echo chamber of clamoring, agreeing voices.
What Are Echo Chambers
Social media can be a great tool. It allows you and I to connect with people from around the world and share our thoughts and ideas. I love the connections I have made.
What I haven’t loved about social media are the echo chambers that are so easily created.
Echo chambers happen when you begin to create a social media presence that only supports your ideas and thoughts. This may look like:
- Your Facebook feed is filled with friends cheering President Trump’s every move. Or maybe it was all your friends loved President Obama.
- Your Facebook feed is filled with friends only talk about self-help or personal development books. All other media is bad.
- Your Facebook feed is filled with talk about the latest and greatest video games. Talk of bettering yourself is dismissed.
Any dissension and you slap your “friend” with the ban hammer. You tell them “Get out of my social media feed.”
Doing this makes sense… On the surface. You don’t want to see the Debbie Downers. You don’t want to hear constant complaining. And you don’t want someone being abusive.
But when you hit a friend with the ban hammer for sharing a disagreeing viewpoint, you’re limiting your ability to grow. Echo chambers effectively close out any opposing voice that could change your way of thinking.
Social media isn’t the only place we create echo chambers. We create echo chambers in every part of our lives, often unintentionally.
We choose friends who look and think like us. We go to places where we feel comfortable with like people. We ignore our neighbors because they look different, talk different, or act differently than we do.
Echo chambers create segregation. We choose to be with people who are like us.
What Echo Chambers Do
You know the classic saying by Jim Rohn:
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with
It sounds great on the surface. And I believe it to an extent. But this Jim Rohn quote has harmed many who follow it to an extreme.
We choose to alienate anyone who opposes our viewpoints because we don’t want to be like them. Or we don’t want their negativity in our lives.
What if we need this opposing viewpoint? What if we need to hear when we are wrong? What if we destroy our ability to grow and learn because we shut out those who disagree with us?
This is what happens when we create echo chambers. The dissenting voice is silenced.
Then… you surround yourself with more people like yourself. They all cheer on the same things. Every friend is a Republican. None of your friends are in debt. You all read the same inspirational material.
Soon, you begin to believe something that isn’t true.
Get Out Of Your Echo Chamber
You begin to believe everyone is just like you. Your echo chamber has created a safe, cozy world where no one disagrees. Everyone has the same beliefs as you. And you can’t believe there’s a world outside of your bubble.
And yet there is!
There is a whole world out there that disagrees with your viewpoint on religion, gun control, personal development, leadership, politics, etc. And, you know what? This is okay.
The world is a diverse place. By bringing diverse people with differing opinions into your life, you’re able to grow and stretch. You’re able to form your own opinions and beliefs. You’re able to better defend your beliefs because you’re able to sharpen the reasons you believe what you do through the disagreements.
Disagreeing voices allow you to grow. They stretch you and define who you are.
When you are able to get out of your echo chamber, you discover there’s a whole new world out there. One where disagreeing voices can get along. One where you can learn to empathize with the “enemy” who’s really not an enemy.
Be willing to walk to the door of your echo chamber. Put your hand on the doorknob. Turn the knob. Open the door. And walk out into the glorious, beautiful world where people hold differing opinions and still care about you.