Our world is getting smaller… but is that a good thing?
One of the significant powers of social media is the extension of our reach into the world… we can communicate with someone across the globe in seconds. I can be in Boston and can ‘hear from’ someone in Africa almost instantaneously. I love that about social media and technology, in general. But there is an underlying challenge, from my point of view.
We may be getting information and opinions from more people or influencers, but we are not necessarily any better connected to anyone who can broaden our views.
With social media, we have the tools to engineer our own personal ‘micro-world’.
The more things I ‘like’ on Facebook, the more targeted the Facebook ads become. The ads reinforce what I have already ‘liked’. I can follow whomever I choose on Twitter… and most of the time I choose to follow people I like… I have not caught myself yet saying ‘I am going to follow him because he drives me crazy.’ Or, ‘I am going to subscribe to her newsfeed because her points of view are totally conflicted with mine’.
I cannot tell a lie – I have used the ‘hide from my timeline’ on Facebook, which means I don’t see my Facebook ‘friend’ on my feed, but we still remain Facebook ‘friends’. That way I don’t have to admit that I disagree or that I don’t want to hear someone’s opinions. They think I am still ‘listening’.
Unfortunately, most of us typically like, follow, and subscribe to the people and publications that align with our views. And, what that means is that our personal worldview is typically reinforced by those we choose to follow. That is ripe ground for what psychologists call confirmation bias. That is, we have our viewpoint and we seek only viewpoints or data that reinforce our own viewpoints. How is that for narrow thinking?
I don’t know the answer or how to get the right balance, but I know there must be something better than the ‘hear no evil’ or ‘like an ostrich with my head in the ground’ strategy.
Have any of you thought about this before? What have you done to take advantage of our hyper-connected world to truly broaden your worldview?
Interesting links to explore further: