Just 5% of us regularly see views we strongly disagree with on social media. Here's how to change that.
Getting out of your filter bubble can be a useful experience, and thanks to a new app, it's as easy as pressing a button.
"But I don't live in a bubble," you might say. "I listen to a wide range of views." And maybe you'd be right! But a new exercise from the Kind Foundation puts that to the test with their "Pop Your Bubble" campaign and app.
Because as it turns out, just 5% of us regularly see posts on social media that we'd say "differ greatly" from our own worldview. And because of that, most of us aren't seeing the whole picture.
Social media makes information more readily available than ever before, but it also lets us choose what information we do or do not want to see.
In many ways, this can actually be a good thing — for example, it allows a lonely gay kid in a homophobic household to connect with a community that validates and supports their identity, while filtering out the kinds of anti-gay messages they already hear at home. The unintended side effect of this, however, is the way it can warp our perception of what the world outside is really like or how many people actually feel a certain way on an issue.
It's a phenomenon called the "filter bubble," a term coined in 2011 by Upworthy CEO Eli Pariser, and describes a distorted view of the world resulting from this über-personalized experience. Partially the result of our own choices and partially the result of social media algorithms, we all exist in our own filter bubbles that feed us information that fits our existing world views without challenging them too much.
The Pop Your Bubble app scans your Facebook profile for Likes, shares, and friends to get a sense of who you are and what sort of news you're regularly exposed to — then it offers up radical change.
The app offers you a slew of suggestions of people to follow that will add some ideological diversity to your news feed.
The question is: Are you up to the challenge?
More than half of all adults in a survey by the Morning Consult and the Kind Foundation said this is something they'd be interested in trying out. And, of course, if it's not working out for you or taking too much of a personal and emotional toll on your well-being, it's easy to unfollow any of the new additions to your newsfeed.
Getting outside our bubbles can help make us better, more effective and persuasive participants in political conversation. Even better, it can make us better, more empathetic people.
You won't agree with everything you see in your new post-bubble feed, and that's the whole point. And you certainly don't need to engage with every post you disagree with (in fact, maybe it's best to start just by listening and following the conversation).
Whether you're progressive, conservative, moderate, or something else entirely, it's a good idea to — at least occasionally — see what others are saying about the latest hot topic in politics, even if just to remind yourself that not everyone thinks the same way you do.
Of course, it's not anyone's responsibility to expose themselves to views they find abhorrent, or views that are dehumanizing or degrading, nor is it to suggest that those other views are necessarily right or worth giving equal consideration to. But for those who are interested in stepping outside the filter bubble, this can be a really useful tool worth giving a try.