The term echo chamber describes a space online or off where all we hear or read is views like ours. Our own views are echoed back to us so much that we cannot imagine any other way of thinking.
When you’re with your friends, you might disagree about some little things, but mostly you share the same views on bigger issues. You might find that being with your friends makes these views stronger. If everyone around you echoes your views on life, none of you may ever meet someone who thinks differently.
Online, these echoing voices grow even louder as groups of people who hold the same views chat in forums and comment sections, they like and re-share. They join together to drown out people who have different views.
You might think, well, does it matter? We all agree. That can’t be bad. But echo chambers can change how we see the world and make it harder to understand or even consider other points of view let alone those that are opposed to ours.
It can mean fewer people discuss ideas, hear other points of view, or learn by listening or reading and especially – thinking.
Our attention spans are short and many people just go with what they see first. Algorithms limit our choices by serving up more of what we have looked at before.
Echo chambers can strengthen existing opinions, of group members and because they are never challenged, push the whole group to a more extreme position.
Some views play on our fears and spread like a contagion.
Teach young people to be critical thinkers. Check what is true, get informed and make informed choices.
By getting into respectful discussions, we can really form our own opinions. Once we’ve heard other people’s ideas, we can sort out what we really think, rather than echo other people without challenging any ideas.
Before you shout someone down, or comment rudely on their feed, take a moment to think-
Softening your language - ‘I’m not sure I agree with you on this.’
Apologise - ‘I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you.’
Offer another idea - ‘I would suggest...’
End on a positive note - ‘We’ll just have to agree to disagree.’
‘I see your point, but I don’t agree’
I hear what you’re saying, but...’
‘I understand where you’re coming from, but...’
‘That’s a good point, only...’
‘We are all entitled to your views’
‘Yes, I see. You are very worried about this. I don’t see it in quite that way.’
‘I can tell this is bothering you. But is it really like that?’ ‘It’s clear that you feel very strongly about this.’
‘I wonder if you could look at it from this point of view for a moment?’