Today we can choose how we receive our information.
We can choose who we follow on twitter. We can choose what news stations we watch. And we get to choose where and when we consume that information; on the go with smart phones or tablets, at home front of the TV, through conversations we have. We get to choose and we always choose what we like. We have power.
We watch the news we like. We visit the sites we like. Follow the people we like. It’s a good system except for one huge problem.
Only seeing what you like is not a good thing. It leads to the death of critical thinking. You lose perspective when you are surrounded by like-minded people telling you what you want to hear. When all you hear is “you’re right about the world.” you don’t grow. You’re trapped in an echo chamber.
I know people who watch only one news station. These are the only people that they trust they deliver their news. All the others are liars. And this news station leans the same way as them on all the major issues. Liberals watch MSNBC. Conservatives watch Fox News. Everything is blue and red. Liberal or Conservative. Republican or Democrat. People are with them, or against them.
If somehow a different opinion sneaks its way into our lives, we have the power to snuff it out.
Ignore. Block. Ban. Downvote and mark for removal.
Scroll down on any news story to the comments section. Against the grain opinions are hidden and marked for deletion by the community. Most of these opinions aren’t even offensive. They’re different and unconventional. But because they do not fit in with the hive-mind of the reader-base for those sites, they are removed.
What happened to discussion? What happened to trying to learn more about how other people see the world? What has happened to critical thinking?
It’s as if people figure out their view on a topic, then search for ways to reinforce it. Never challenging their first reaction to a news story. They search for facts that support the narrative that they already have in their head. Things that don’t support that narrative are ignored or said to be fabricated by the enemy.
Critics, skeptics, and cynics are pushed out of the community. Said to be insane or brainwashed by the enemy’s media. Then they are labeled with the name of the enemy. Bleeding Heart. Homophobe. Heretic. Racist. Sinner. Misogynist. Tree Hugger.
Would it be so bad if we didn’t only read what we liked? If we didn’t only listen to the news stations that we liked? Maybe turn on the TV, not watch the same news correspondents? Switch it up? No news station is completely objective, in fact I’d say most aren’t even close. It’s television. They have ratings to consider.
Maybe we should starting following people we despise. Read articles that are offensive to us and our beliefs. Try not to see issues in blue and red. It’d be great if people could try, make that effort.
So that our first reaction to a contrary opinion isn’t “This person is completely wrong and I am right!” and instead becomes “Why does this person believe this? Why do they see the world differently than I do?”
Asking questions rather than remaining in ignorance.