This post is prompted by an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, How San Franciscans ruin Leibovitz — and the electorate by Daniel P. Beckmann, Ph.D., a former Obama campaign digital strategist. In it he bemoans a show of Annie Leibovitz photographs to the Bay Area audience that stifled opposition. Beckmann stated that the audience reaction took away from free interpretation of the photographs by voicing a loud opinion of what they collectively liked and didn’t like, possibly crowding out opposing views.
Much like the audience at the Leibovitz event, we drown out those who disagree with us. We are way into a class struggle with the media. Anything we don’t like becomes “fake news,” a very dangerous place for free speech. The mainstream press, and yes, this includes Fox News folks, is highly polarized.
In our “filter bubbles”
The phrase “filter bubble” emerged back in 2011, coined by Eli Pariser as a way to refer to search engines that shield people from certain aspects of alternative points of view.
“Pariser’s example of the filter bubble came about by following two people who googled the term “BP”. One received links to investment news about BP while the other received links to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, presumably as a result of some recommendation algorithm.”
This is a serious problem, especially today. The sad news is that research reveals that most of us like getting information we agree with.
This is a problem for me on Facebook. My “friends” post news feeds and I already agree with. Do they think I need convincing? If I didn’t like what they posted, we would not be friends?
As Google and Facebook already know my profile, they will send along more like-minded stuff as well.
The more we consume our own interests, the more we create the void. And the danger is that it can polarize populations which are harmful divisions in society. Our bubbles are sending us hurtling to probably one of the most divisive presidencies in recent history. Now that we know this, why can’t it change? Only if we make a concerted effort to break out. The good news, if we take advantage of it, there are digital features that can ease the way to a broader view of the range of information beyond our own narrow focus.
This is my filter bubble.
I live in- places that had previously voted Democrat, but voted Republican in the past election — where he hoped to gain a better understanding of the concerns of his fellow American citizens. It was an enlightened event.
Tools to escape your bubble
I just registered for a site EscapeYourBubble, that will show me news stories with more of a conservative slant, gradually. They said they don’t want to shock people all at once. Escape Your Bubble, is a plug-in that populates Facebook with opposing political views, left and right.
“It also populates partisan content with an aggressively positive affect. Each story appears with a pink heart icon and a banner that says:
“Happily inserted by your EscapeYourBubble Chrome Extension :)” When you register, it asks a series of questions based on your current political views and what you are interested in seeing.”
It would be interesting to know who signs up for it?
Here is a list of links that will offer you news and information across whatever side of the isle you sit on:
• “Right Richter,” which compiles a more conservative list of articles for those more liberal audiences.
• ThoughtCo. Learn about US liberal politics, a broad system of beliefs that focuses on social justice, individual rights, equality, and the separation of church and state.
• “Today in Conservative Media” Column that also issues a conservative list.
• FlipFeed, a Twitter plug-in is a jump into another user political feed. You can view a live tweet during a news conference of both sides.
• Read Across the Aisles That allows users from The Huffington Post or The Federalist to view through the app a meter turn red or blue based on the particular site’s ideological bent.
• EscapeYourBubble is a plug-in that seeds your Facebook feed with opposing political views, goes a step further, repackaging partisan content with an aggressively positive affect. Each story appears with a pink heart icon and a banner that says: “Happily inserted by your EscapeYourBubble.”
I think we could all benefit from a wider perspective. As I learned in researching the history of the San Francisco Gold Rush, we all love our children. Wouldn’t it be good to recognize the similarities rather than the differences?
Finally, here is the response I received from EscapeYourBubble:
“Krishna Kaliannan firstname.lastname@example.org
3:31 PM (19 hours ago)
I’d like to give you a little insight into how we choose articles here at EscapeYourBubble.
We choose articles based on two guiding principles:
1) Avoid the “Backfire Effect” by escaping your bubble gradually, rather than suddenly.
The “Backfire Effect” happens when you go cold-turkey from reading the Huffington Post to reading Breitbart (or vice-versa) overnight. If you do that, the ideas will seem so crazy science tells us you might actually become more close-minded to “the other side”.
So instead, we help you escape your bubble gradually. We start by showing you “moderate” content from sites you probably already read. We then mix in articles from more partisan sites over time.
If you have already embraced “the other side”, you can change your settings to immediately mix in content from more partisan sites by changing your settings.
2) Well researched arguments win – no misleading or made-up news.
We carefully vet each article we choose so that it is not misleading or entirely fabricated.
Any questions? Any feedback on articles we’ve suggested? Would you like to submit an article? Just hit reply!