Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat. It seems as though social media bombards us 24/7. Everyone is always preoccupied with their cell phone, laptop, or iPad.
One side-effect of social media is the “filter bubble.” Some people aren’t even aware that their social media accounts have such a strong influence on what they see, and what they believe to be true.
What is a Filter Bubble?
Filter bubbles filter your social media accounts based on patterns in your browsing history, your location, friends, etc. Some view this feature as a perk, while others see filter bubbles as a restriction. The controversial question is, are filter bubbles a blessing in disguise? Or are our views and beliefs limited because of them?
Many say that it’s great to have a filtered newsfeed that caters to your interests or beliefs. This keeps people entertained, since they’re looking at material they find interesting.
How Much Influence Do Filter Bubbles Really Have?
Some may think, “Why would I waste my time reading about something I have absolutely no interest in?” Is social media really meant to be a way to connect with the entire world? Or is it okay for social media to solely connect us with our related community and interests? After all, don’t we want to focus our free time on exploring things we know we like? This is a matter of opinion. Even Netflix and Hulu have filter bubbles to help you find movies and TV shows you’re likely to enjoy.
Others believe filter bubbles are a problem, because it restricts your exposure to content that is filtered for you. Users are limited in seeing what other things are out there, like news items featuring opposing points of view. When you’re constantly seeing the same opinions or pictures posted over and over again, you feel reinforced in your beliefs and start to forget about the other opinions that exist. Even if other opinions may have some very valid points that you should be considering. Since posts on these social media accounts can be very opinionated and assertive, it’s easy to believe that these beliefs must be true. It becomes easier to think to yourself, “There can’t possibly be another explanation.”
How to Break Out of the Bubble
One way to branch out from these filter bubbles is to communicate “old school” style. Start up a conversation on the bus with a stranger. Go purchase a newspaper at your local supermarket, or purposely follow a few sources that promote viewpoints you don’t tend to agree with. Do some research on a topic that you know nothing about just because. It’s important to be knowledgeable about what is going on in the world. Shape your own beliefs. Don’t just rely on what everyone else is telling you to form your own opinions.