I just wrapped up my first semester studying journalism. One of my classes was based solely on the principles of journalism, and the class was taught by different department heads at the school. One of the most common themes talked about in the lectures was the dire need to educate ourselves. We need to go beyond the realms of suggested articles on Facebook and do our own research to see what is going on in the world. And this doesn’t just apply to journalism students.
We learned about this concept called our own “digital bubble.” Media analytics have become so advanced that companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter track what we are interested in, what we read and what we buy. For companies like Amazon, this is a fantastic development. If somebody has just purchased a kitchen set, then they will cater their advertising to that person and suggest buying a cookbook.
However, for social sites like Facebook and Twitter, this filtering system raises an issue. Facebook keeps track of what articles you are reading. From this data, they can suggest similar articles with similar points of view. Although fun to read, the only purpose they are serving is to reinforce your opinion.
And the same goes for Twitter. Those trending tags on the left side of your screen are tailored specifically to you. So maybe these tags are trending in your community of like-minded people, but is this giving you any new perspective at all?
Data has also shown that most people prefer to go to only one source for their news. For some people, that one source is Facebook because they seem to find so many articles on it. But, if that person has only been reading anti-Trump articles, they may believe that it is the only thing going on right now that matters. They may not have heard about the Dakota Access Pipeline or other important issues that are in the news.
My point is that our generation has a responsibility that sets us apart from those that came before us. Within all of our own “digital bubbles” lives an ignorance that can only be squashed if we pop those bubbles and start educating ourselves by reading material that you may not agree with. If you consider yourself a liberal, go read some conservative-based media and find out why they believe what they do and vice versa. I truly believe that if more people did this, we would have more of an understanding for each other. Maybe, we wouldn’t be so polarized as a society.
Going forward, I intend to go beyond my “digital bubble” and make a conscious effort to find out what is going on outside of my community. I challenge all of you to do the same.