Selective Exposure In The Era Of Social Media: What Is It And Why Does It Matter?

Selective Exposure In The Era Of Social Media: What Is It And Why Does It Matter?

What we do and don't click on in the fragmented age of social media.
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In light of the recent fake news phenomenon, it’s important to evaluate the ways in which we get our information online. We may be exposed to over 100 messages every day, but only notice a handful of them. Imagine scrolling through your Facebook timeline, what influences whether or not you read an article? What makes you scroll past a headline?

Selective exposure is a theory within mass communication that basically says people will expose themselves to information that aligns with their beliefs or values and will tend to avoid contradictory information. We probably don’t recognize when selective exposure comes into play while we’re catching up on social media but it does affect what content you decide to pay attention to and what you decide to ignore. This makes sense! As humans we generally don’t like to have opposing thoughts. These deep-rooted emotions play a big part in what people see on the internet and, although it’s not necessarily good or bad, we need to recognize it.

This can affect how we select which media outlets to read and believe, or which ones to discredit. Social media has significantly changed news consumption by providing us with an enormous amount of choices when it comes to content sources. There is so much content online and it seems impossible to sort through it all, forcing us to be more selective than ever. The same story can be written ten different ways by all types of news outlets, and which article we choose to read depends on our beliefs. Selective exposure is really important when it comes to politics. Whether you are politically right-sided, left-sided, or not sided at all, this affects what you click on and how you interpret it. For example, Donald Trump supporters are more likely to scroll past an article with a headline that speaks negatively of him. This applies to all of the content we see online, on television, and in newspapers/magazines.

There is content online that will fit each person’s unique beliefs and unfortunately, a lot of news programs have become strongly opinionated, further pushing selective exposure. So we have to make a choice, do you read FoxNews or Msnbc’s take on Donald Trump’s latest executive order? We have to be careful that we don’t only pay attention to sources that are biased and one-sided because if we’re not, our newsfeed could become flooded with news promoting one side over the other even if it means twisting the information and we could miss out on the truth.

It makes me wonder: are we ignoring credibility to avoid cognitive dissonance? Of course no one likes to feel like they’re wrong but there’s nothing wrong with forming a new opinion. A solution to selective exposure is to be aware of it, read two or more versions of a story, and then decide what you think.

By selectively reading information that matches our beliefs we may be missing out on important facts. This is especially important for our generation because we’re still forming our personal values and principles. We need to be aware that selective exposure exists and make the conscious choice to expose ourselves to different versions of the same content. Hear all sides of the story before you form your opinion.

Cover Image Credit: Graham C99

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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My Hometown Just Experienced A Mass Shooting, If We Don't Do Something, Yours Could Be Next

You never think it will happen to you until it does.

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I was on my way out the door to work when I got a panicked call from my mother.

"Can you look at the news online?" she said quickly. "There is a mass shooting somewhere nearby."

My heart stopped. For me, Aurora, Illinois is home. I was born there, I grew up around the area and I attended high school there. My siblings go to school close by and my boyfriend works for a neighboring fire department.

How could my beloved hometown become the victim of the latest tragedy?

After calling my boyfriend, who was at the fire station getting ready to deploy ambulances to the scene, I discovered that it had taken place at a factory nearby. My anxiety hit an all-time high as I watched the updates on all of the local city Facebook pages and groups. Officers down. Gunman at large. Mass casualties.

Hours later, all of the facts came out. A former employee of Henry Pratt's Company, a local industrial warehouse, had recently been let go and decided to get revenge. He entered the warehouse with a gun and began to shoot at random, killing five people and wounding many others, including five police officers. He was killed by local SWAT forces.

I am the kind of person who is pro-gun and pro-gun rights because of the second amendment and all of the freedoms I believe we deserve. But that doesn't make what happened okay and it never will.

While this situation doesn't change my mind, it does change my view of the world.

Why would somebody decide that shooting former coworkers was the way to go? Why would anyone want to hurt others? These are the questions that flooded my mind in the hours after the mass shooting. I don't necessarily think we have a gun issue in America, but issues with mental health and valuing life.

We pass bills to kill unborn children. We repeal bills that take away healthcare from million. We devalue life in its most basic form and respect those around us to still have enough respect for each other's lives. We stigmatize those who need psychiatric care and expect things to still be alright.

This is not alright.

Our country, our system, our values, and morals, they are all broken and backward. We have let mass shootings become normal and violence becomes accepted. It needs to be stopped. There needs to be a change.

One of the people killed was an intern from a local college during his first day on the job. Being a college student applying to internships myself, this hit far too close to home. Nobody deserves to die, least of all in their place of work while trying to further their career.

Five people lost their lives due to someone's disrespect of them. Yes, a gun was the weapon, but a mind was the actor. I pray that someday, our country will return to valuing life and respecting others enough to help them instead of pushing them away. This is not the first mass shooting, but it can be the last. If, and only if, we make sure of it.

If you want to help the victim's families in any way, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses

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