Empathy: The Way Out of Our Echo Chambers


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Kristina Thompson, Writer

The internet is no longer a new and wondrous world. Our society, and specifically Generation Z, now lives and thrives through the opportunities presented to us on it. In today’s cut-throat digital culture, everyone has access to an arsenal of opinions, articles, and facts. As enlightening as it sounds, it has only paved the way for polarization in all spectrums of life.

The average internet user will spend most of their time on some form of social media. The creation of these online platforms has opened numerous doors for global exchanges of ideas and discussion. However, the more a user cements themselves within a certain viewpoint, the more concentrated each post becomes towards a targeted user. In simpler terms, algorithms know what people want and will continue to dish it out to each individual user. This concept can be defined as an “echo chamber”. The oxford dictionary further defines it as, “an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered.” 

The only solution to exiting the echo chamber is to consider both sides of an opinion. This is also the clearest path to discovering a realistic version of stories that extremists twist unrecognizably. Although echo chambers are not inherently bad, their effects feed into a growing problem of ignorance between generations, families, and friends – effectively leading to the rise of polarization of all levels in society. 

Educate yourself on both sides of an argument. Only then can you empathize with others, and form a clear vision of the world around you.

Below are a list of questions to ask yourself about what you see online.

  1. Is someone trying to get an emotional reaction out of me with this content? Why might they do this?
  2. If I were on the other side of this argument or issue, how would I feel about this content?
  3. Have I fact-checked this? Have I looked at an alternate source to see how “the other side” is covering it?
  4. What fears, emotions, worries, or anxieties might be driving this content? How can I recognize, validate, and deal with those emotions within myself?
  5. Is this content starting a conversation, informing, or educating? What am I learning from this content? Am I going to be a better friend, student, citizen, etc. because I consumed this content?