Escape the Echo Chamber

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20 January, 2022

What is the echo chamber?

The echo chamber refers to a place in which one’s beliefs and ideas are never challenged, but only reaffirmed by those who think the same way. This leads the individual to a sort of isolation in the sense that they are entirely unwilling to consider alternate viewpoints, ideas, hobbies, etc.

In the world we live in today it is quite easy to fall into an echo chamber. Politics is a primary example, the echo chamber often being the news or social media.

Most watch mainstream news for their particular party of choice. Others (often those without a party and/or media coverage) may join communities online reflecting their views.

In the United States, those who are more Conservative may watch Fox. Those who are more Progressive may watch CNN.

In the case of a community, the community itself is irrelevant. It may be 4chan, Reddit, Twitter, a Discord server, or an instance of a decentralized platform.

Those who identify as Libertarians may join /r/libertarian, Anarchists might join /r/anarchism, Fascists may go to 4chan, SJWs, TERFs, and Liberals take to Twitter, etc. These are just examples. Note that these are the only communities these people join, and if they join others they are the same kind. A Libertarian may join /r/libertarian and follow Libertarian accounts on Twitter.

My point here is that people tend to pick a set of beliefs and only interact with communities that re-affirm these beliefs. This is very dangerous.

Identity

People will take their opinions and make it their entire identity. The problem with this is that when someone criticises you or your ideas, it is no longer a matter of criticism, but a personal insult.

If my entire identity is centered around being a Posadist (funny I know), and someone criticises my ideology, I am highly likely to take the criticism personally.

Escaping it

To escape the echo chamber, interact with different communities, even those that hold beliefs entirely opposite to yours. This does not mean tolerate ad hominem. Your goal should be intellectual discourse with those who may hold beliefs different to yours.

I am a Trotskyist, and yet I am in many Marxist-Leninist, Capitalist, Conservative, and Liberal communities.

I am an atheist, and I still participate in religious discourse from time to time. I am currently reading the Bible and the Quran (you don’t have to read these books to be an atheist). My point here is that you shouldn’t be an atheist just because you’ve been told to be one.

I check on the communities of programming languages and projects that I rarely use.

Vary your sources of incoming information. This allows you to see the world through more than one point of view.

Be skeptical

Despite these things, it is necessary to be skeptical. Cross reference and use your critical thinking skills.

Realize that no one is above lying. People will try to exploit you.

Propaganda is a tool utilized by all politicians and public figures.

Idols

Avoid idolizing people. You will find that no one is perfect. No human is worthy of worship.

This sounds obvious, but I see many Conservatives idolize Trump. I see many Anarchists idolize Makhno or Kropotkin, despite most agreeing with the slogan “No Gods. No Masters”.

Learn from people and their ideas, but do not idolize them. Realize that the modern media on both sides exists to morph public opinion. Avoid being a cog in the machine. Be independent and think for yourself.

Whether we have free will or only the illusion of it, we have a mind. Those over you want to control your opinion. Do not let them rob you of one of the biggest gifts you have been given.