I’ve always thought of myself as an open-minded person. I’ve never thought of myself as one who would shy away from having conversations with those that I did not agree with. I even spent my past summer in conversation with people about disagreements within the Christian faith community. I was always one at the table trying to be engaged with those that I did not quite understand.
Yet, recent political events have changed my self-perception and my world perception.
This political season more than ever before in my life, I caught myself thinking things like, “Those people must be crazy to believe that way!” or “How could any sane person really think that?”
It wasn’t until this week that I understood the severity of my thoughts and why they might be happening.
One would think that these little thoughts would not be all that harmful. However, they display a lack of humility in seeing the humanity of another person. Whenever we stop completely seeing the humanity in each other, bad will surely follow.
We begin to discount anything that we don’t agree with as fake and all that we agree with as truth.
Upon this discovery, I began to worry how I had not noticed this before.
Maybe that’s because our culture, especially with social media, is conditioning us to be this way.
Our social media tools give us the illusion that through our hundreds of friends and connections that we are experiencing diversity. That is only the case if your friends and connections hold opinions that vary in ways from yours and most of us tend to group up with like-minded people. And if you are in the group of people who manages to be able to have a wide diversity of opinions among friends and connections, you may still not be getting all that much of diversity.
Our social media tools operate with algorithms that determine the preference of what you see based on your likes. This phenomenon is known as a filter bubble.
A fellow classmate of mine shared how I could see the results of my own filter bubble on Facebook. It was quite shocking to be able to see what filters Facebook was using to sort information for me. I am not sure whether to be upset or glad that when it came to politics Facebook got it wrong about my preferences.
With social media being a main place where I search for information, it is going to be harder and harder to distinguish between fake and truth.
Oddly enough, I was inspired this week by a post on Facebook from a close friend outline her daughter’s assignment from school that might give some insight on how to start making that distinction.
1. Chose one story from current news.
2. Read about the same event from 3 sources – liberal, middle and conservative.
3. Compare the similarities and differences in the story.
It seems like a good assignment for searching out the truth.
If my social media is going to filter what I see and not allow me to be able to see all sides of an argument, I will just have to start inviting myself to the table by seeking out the other opinions and letting the algorithm know there is more to being human and the truth than always agreeing.