What causes us to surround ourselves with people who like what we like?
Now, let me ask you an important question: Have you ever been on the wrong side of a social media argument?
If you’ve been a part of Facebook or Twitter during any major turn of events, elections, etc., then chances are that you’ve been part of a seemingly neverending argument.
This argument probably started out fairly innocent; you more than likely made an harmless comment stating your opinion, or maybe even an over-generalization, and it quickly eroded into a heated disagreement far from the original topic.
You know the ones I am talking about?
Along with those crazy whirlwind arguments, comes along the OP’s “loyal” group of friends. The people that don’t budge even when facts are thrown at them, man, those guys drive me crazy.
These people create an environment that is known as an echo chamber.
What Does Echo Chamber Mean?
Thank you for asking; let me explain.
The Oxford Dictionary defines an echo chamber as, “An environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered.”
We are constantly being told to educate ourselves, do research, and broaden our minds, right? Well an echo chamber is counterproductive to that. It literally keeps us close-minded. Reminds me of a town I lived in…
These “friends” that seemingly look for trouble – they’re always the same people on various posts – create this environment and thrive on it. They see something on Social Media that they don’t research, post it on their networking sites, and then their echo chamber people are all drawn in and 110% agree with them, without ever seeing if their posts were factual or not.
Getting into an argument or a disagreement of sorts with these types of people will almost always land you a proverbial black eye. Sorry, but they’re vicious. They’re like rabid badgers or the Hulk.
But why do echo chambers become a thing? It’s simple really, we like to surround ourselves with people who think like we do. The people that have grown up in similar areas, with similar backgrounds, families, beliefs, and ultimately their thoughts.
We do not stray far from what we know and that stands to be true when it comes to social media interactions and making friends online.
Why is this a social media danger? Because it creates like-mindedness, dampens creativity, and destroys free-thought. Yikes.
If everyone thought like everyone else then why would anyone ever pursue anything beyond what we already know? There would be no competition to be better, no drive to find out more about the world around us, and no motivation to learn more than what we already know. Everyone would eventually become the same person. How boring would that be?
To surround ourselves with people who think like we do and generally live similar lives to our own, means that we don’t have to worry about stepping out of our comfort zones or going toe-to-toe with something that makes us feel… uncomfortable.
Because feelings are gross, right?
In order for us to broaden our horizons, we have to leave the little box we have created around ourselves that makes everything so comfy and cozy.
Imagine being Aristarchus (the man who is credited with the discovery that we orbit the Sun), Einstein, Newton, or Plato, just to name a few. People back then thought they were crazy because of all the wild implications or facts that they brought up. If those guys had surrounded themselves with people who thought like they did, and never questioned anything, then we wouldn’t be where we are today. They literally changed the world around them by not being like those they occupied the world with.
This is why it is important to change up the path we are on, to talk to someone who is not within your group of friends or acquaintances, and to step out of your comfort box. If we never did anything that wasn’t uncomfortable in the first place, then we wouldn’t get anywhere, we would just stay the same.
Social Media Friends
Talking about echo chambers and like-mindedness brings me back to a post I wrote in 2016 about social media and losing friendships. You can check that post out here. I talked about how the then upcoming election was driving a wedge between friendships and families. Nothing gets us quite as worked up as talking about politics does. If you’re bored at a holiday dinner, just start talking the latest politics, you’ll soon be asked to leave.
What I am about to say next will blow your mind. Ready?
There are people in this world that believe what they believe so much that they will block you, curse you, or anything in between, just to not concede to you.
That’s what I’m talking about! These people become unbelievably unmovable in what they think, see, hear, and then surround themselves by similar people, that they create friction with those closest to them.
This is why surrounding ourselves with people who echo our thoughts, beliefs, etc. can be dangerous.
I would rather have a discussion or debate with someone to understand where they’re coming from than be surrounded by people who just agree with me.
We can’t really grow or learn anything new if the people we associate ourselves with aren’t much different than us.
I think that is why we are currently seeing such an overwhelming amount of people on social media that group together and agree with one another and then shun (maybe that’s too harsh) the people who don’t agree with them. So pretty much, if you’re in the minority within a thread, don’t comment, you’ll be eaten alive by rabid badgers.
What do you think about echo chambers? Do you believe that it is dangerous to be around like minded people? What can we do differently to avoid this from happening?