Echo chambers harm quality of conversation, life

Innumerable writers and other media figures have discussed the danger of echo chambers, forums of ‘discussion’ that in reality function in the service of their actors’ own confirmation biases.
This is usually diagnosed as a byproduct of digital communications, the foremost examples being Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Because, while such networks might have been intended to widen communication between people, they also give people the ability to block out any opinions or messages differing from their own.
The University of Tulsa’s own Professor Mark Brewin wrote in an article for the Tulsa World earlier this year that while networks were meant to “bring us freedom and variety,” they instead have left us with an “inability for well-meaning people of all political stripes and passions to simply understand one another.” The implications of this regarding the 2016 election have been widely discussed, but it’s a conversation I don’t think can be exhausted enough. The shocking contrast between that election’s predicted result and the actual result certainly represented some sort of disconnect between the opposing parties.
I’m probably not well-enough informed to host an educated discussion on political echo chambers, so I wanted to discuss them in the context of the college campus instead. College campuses probably have a lot more to do with our current lives than political elections anyway.
It might be needless to say, but echo chambers don’t just exist online. A club can be an echo chamber: The Collegian itself has attempted for years to ensure that it included a wealth of differing and varied opinions, with only varying success. Social circles can be especially effective echo chambers; it’s only natural not to want to disagree with your friends.
And of course, it’s probably also needless to say that echo chambers can have a negative effect on a lot more than political opinion. They can govern the way we think of our peers or approach new experiences. I’m sure plenty of the departments on campus have negative opinions of one another; even a few clubs on campus might have fantasies of antagonism between themselves.
There’s been a lot of discussion about how easy it can be to block out any opinion that disagrees with us online, but I think it’s just as important to consider how difficult it might be to encounter differing opinions in our actual day-to-day lives. If there’s anytime in your lives you might have the opportunity to discuss controversial topics on a daily basis, it’d probably be college (despite most universities’ liberal bias). But while you might learn to empathize with a lecturer from France, or come to a better understanding of racial profiling in America, it’s just as well that you conquer some more juvenile social barriers. It’s important to remember that echo chambers affect us everyday, sometimes in so small of ways as the way we judge other students on campus.

Post Author: Trenton Gibbons