Last week we posted a link to an article on our Facebook page entitled, “What is Facebook Hiding From You?” and it touched off a string of thought provoking comments and ideas so we thought it would be worth a closer look. The article discusses the filter bubble - a curious problem that occurs when Internet searches yield results based upon your likes and preferences, thus shielding you from information that doesn’t confirm your previously established viewpoint.
Whether or not you realize it, everyone is affected by this phenomenon. As one Facebooker put it,
“I knew Facebook operated in this way, but I hadn’t quite put it together that it’s such the echo-chamber it is.”
Indeed, I hadn’t considered all of the implications either, but after having read this article and the following discussion, I came to understand that my world is far more closed than I once believed. It also made me wonder to what degree the filter bubble is affecting Rock Beyond Belief. How many more people could we reach if they weren’t being selectively treated to an abundance of data that confirms their beliefs and prejudices? What can we do to gently infiltrate those bubbles without bursting them? Could it be possible that we are enclosed within a bubble of our own?
Yes Man Bites Dog
In order to answer these questions we must consider that this effect isn’t simply the fault of the media outlets we choose to get our information from. There are many instances in which people surround themselves with friends who support their belief system and thereby create a filtered environment of their own. As an atheist, with many likeminded social media contacts far and wide, it isn’t uncommon for me to see upwards of a dozen people sharing the same links at any given time. Regarding this, one of our Facebook friends said,
“I don’t want to break out of a group of reasonable, logically-minded people. :)”
Although his comment was humorous, I think that many of us feel this way deep down, myself included. Unless you are simply in the mood to be a troll, there isn’t much pleasure in listening to someone blather on about their personal relationship with Christ or how their child’s life was saved from an abortion because they ran out of gas. Another friend stated it like this,
“This is not about viewpoints. This is about facts vs. fiction, science vs. faith, and reason vs. unreason. Not all viewpoints are equal and not all viewpoints deserve respect.”
We have all had countless dialogs with people of faith which were to no avail, but at the very least, another profound comment pointed out that engaging theists is useful because when we do,
“Each of those instances serves to chip away at the edifice of fiction built up in their minds.”
However, at some point many of us just start to tune out all of the noise. The scandal at Fort Bragg is common knowledge among the ‘A’ crowd, but could this be the reason why the nation at large is unfamiliar with RBB? It isn’t as if our story has been ignored by the media. In fact, it has been covered by major news outlets like the New York Times and NPR, yet most of my outside acquaintances have never heard of us. When I explain the situation to people outside of my bubble, the majority of them agree that what happened was just plain wrong. Of course there have been some exceptions, but it seems that if we could find a way to break through the barriers that have been emplaced, we may find a surprising amount of untapped support.
The Echo Chamber Pot Needs Changing
What do you think Rock Beyond Belief could be doing in order effectively get through to the millions of bubble heads out there? What are you doing to pop your own? We always welcome ideas and would love to hear yours. Feel free to comment or join us at our Facebook echo chamber for more great discussions like this.
Want to sound a little bit smarter than all the other yes-men in our bubble? Before you comment, watch this video of Eli Periser’s speech about the ‘Filter Bubble’: