After my previous post, it is apparent to me that echo chamber posts are not going viral. I’m not too surprised. Wrestling with the idea and implications of echo chambers requires more than a cute meme and a few pithy quotes. After all, who wants to consider that their comfortable social/ideological confines may be a threat to democracy.
I remain convinced that awareness and understanding of echo chambers is important to personal and societal well-being. It is too simplistic to assign echo chambers sole responsibility for the deep division in our country. To do so is akin to assigning parents sole responsibility for the their children’s outcome. Echo chambers are incubators for our development as human beings, for good or ill. Echo chambers greatest peril for ill is their appeal to and nurturing of our natural inclinations toward tribalism, group think, confirmation bias and certainty.
There is equal opportunity for good. Echo chambers can function as a “deliberating enclave”.
…“enclave deliberation,” … defined as “that form of deliberation that occurs within more or less insulated groups, in which like-minded people speak mostly to one another.” … (Sunstein)
The main value of deliberating enclaves is not that they increase conversation across differences, but that they enable like-minded people to make progress in what they agree about.
The real problem with echo chambers therefore isn’t that they consist of people who believe the same things and whose discussions strengthen their beliefs. The real problem is that some of them are wrong — in their beliefs, their methodology, or, often, in both. David Weinberger
The most significant human trait that sustains and encourages the proliferation of and participation in harmful echo chambers is our unwillingness to entertain the possibility that we may be wrong.
Don’t forget to “like” this post so our like-minded friends can agree.