A teacher once told me that he tried to read several newspapers at once to have a more diverse perspective on certain issues because he does not want to be stuck in his own echo chamber and bring only his own opinion to class, letting it affect the students. That really got me thinking because as IBCoM students, we surely learn about the impact of what you consume and interact with, both on online platforms, on our outlook on the world and on its issues.
Digital bubbles are different from those in real life and can be more complicated than you would think. Based on the nature of the platform – Facebook with its befriend/unfriend; Instagram with its follow/unfollow and Twitter with its tweet/retweet – it creates numerous way for people to interact, allowing communities to intertwine in ways you will find it hard to imagine. Besides, algorithms and whatnot play an important role in selecting what you will see online, which will likely confirm your already existing opinions. If you want to expand further from your bubbles, understand various points of view or become more sympathetic, follow these 4 simple suggestions:
Accept that there are different opinions from you. Sounds easy enough right? However, sometimes, especially when you share the same opinions with people around you, it is hard to realize that people coming from other backgrounds and cultures will perceive things from other viewpoints. In that case, just remember that they might be different, but they are also not wrong.
Prepare yourself with an open mind, you will find not only your opinion being challenged, but you will be fascinated and hungry for more.
Know your social media
How many social media accounts do you own? I have 3 most frequently used, and amazingly, each account has its own circle. I can look at one post and know exactly which platform it would be posted on.
Each social media platform has its own characteristics, and your activities will change accordingly. Ask yourself, who are these people I interact with? What kind of information am I seeing and from which sources? Why am I seeing this just now?
The more you know, the more aware you are of the digital surroundings. This can help you make a more accurate judgement of your own bubbles.
How exactly do you branch out online anyway? You can’t just stand up and walk further to the North hoping you will find something new.
There are multiple ways to do this, including paying more attention to what your friends are posting and interacting with and finding out what catches your attention: utilizing the search engine and looking at new sources of information on the same subject; joining a community (Facebook groups are great sources of new insights – just please beware of the conspiracy lovers!); reading different newspapers or signing up for new weekly newsletters.
Knowing that people use media for different purposes, if you find comfort in what you are doing right now, please continue doing it as it is indeed difficult to navigate online. But one thing I hope you can take with you is that acknowledging different viewpoints exist is necessary, both in real and digital life.
Author: Bao Thu Nguyen
Editor: Gwendolyne Cheung
Illustrator: Ira Lizenko