While scrolling through social media throughout the recent election cycle, I was gravely concerned at the overwhelming prevalence of echo chambers and that meant for the future of our nation. Echo chambers are, essentially, a social network of alike individuals who share information among them that reinforces their shared opinions. Often, this constant reinforcement causes these individuals to believe that their opinions are correct.
This cycle, however, these echo chambers became so problematic because the algorithms that social networks use select posts that match that user’s interests and preferences. This means that these users are unlikely to even see an opposing point of view on their feeds.
Many scholars and everyday Americans alike have expressed concern that our country is becoming far too polarized. Prior to this election, I was unsure that I echoed these concerns. After all, our political structure is a predominantly two-party system. This system means that inevitably, there are two teams and voters are inclined to cheer for one or the other. However, even in 2012, when social media predominantly updated based on recency of posts, there was some acknowledgment that the other party had, at minimum, one decent idea.
Now, because we only see our own side each day as we press refresh, we grow increasingly more polarized. Of course, we should be free to share our thoughts, but we should also be free to see the other side.
B.A. Political Science, B.A. Communication
Class of 2017