The online echo chamber

One of my goals in keeping this blog is to create discussion about best practice. To encourage educators to reflect on their art and, if found lacking, to inspire change.

But one thing I heard recently got me wondering. Am I actually preaching to the converted?

The invisible algorithms behind social media mean that people are given more and more of what they like to see; what they already believe. Their voice gets bounced back at them: hence the echo chamber effect.

And we’re all part of the problem.

I, too, tend not to click on stories that present an opposing view to mine. I scroll past ideas that I deem ludicrous.

But if each of us always tread the sane narrow path, how then can we all learn from one another and grow?

So how do we escape the echo chamber?

1. Seek out new interactions. This involves deliberately and actively pursuing conversations with people you haven’t talked with before. About topics that they will likely see in a different way to what you do.

2. Listen with curiosity. When discussing ideas with others, listen with an open mind. Don’t try to “win the argument” or to persuade them to see things your way. Instead, critically consider alternatives perspectives.

3. Collaborate rather than compete. Recognise that two heads are better than one, that everyone has something to offer, and that being “right” all the time wins you no prizes.

4. Converse to clarify. If you’re stuck in a conversation with someone who presents an idea that is so beyond your capability of understanding of integrating with your world view, see it as a chance to reflect and firm up your own thoughts.

5. Find mentors. No matter how experienced you are and how much you may be a mentor to others, it is always possible to find someone who has wisdom to offer, whose practice you admire, who can be a mentor to you. Watch them, listen to them, let them inspire you

And encourage others to do the same.

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