The Echo Chamber Effect


I’ve known about this effect for a while but I never knew exactly what it was called, until I read about it.


In our world, it’s safe to say that we are more connected than we know, and little things expose and buttress our perception of life, perspectives and ultimately the type of information we expose ourselves to. 


Normally, I would love to break this down to best explain what I mean and why I believe in our connectivity, but I kinda also want to leave room for your own thoughts.


So, we’ll do it this way. Before reading this post, think about the echo chamber effect (and if it's a term you’re not familiar with, a single google search will give you enough of a general idea about what it means). Then, head to the comment section and tell me all about the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of this unique effect?


And, when that’s done, we can get right down to business, cos this is going to be an interesting one!


So, what is the echo chamber effect?



I believe everyone has, to varying degrees, some idea what this effect means but below, I’m going to try to define it with more than a simple definition. We are going to use our imagination to fully explore the depths of this phenomenon.


Let us begin.


Imagine you're at a party with your girlies (or bros). You all are sharing titbits of a movie you just saw and each time you say something amazing about the movie, everyone nods in agreement and chips in their own praises.


It feels great because everyone's thoughts are aligned. But what you don’t know is that you are in an echo chamber.


Now, let’s switch it up a bit.


Maybe at the same party, there’s another group of girlies/bros that saw the same movie with y’all, but, unlike your group, these guys seem to have a different opinion of said movie.


Notwithstanding, since you’re only hanging out with your friends who loved the movie, you don’t get to hear the opinions of the other group. Your interest is centred on the affirmations given on your opinion by your friends. And that’s the only thing that matters to you.


The illustration above focuses only on a personal level, nevertheless, we live in a digital world where everyone is connected by their cell phones, and natural communication is something a lot of us are definitely lacking. 


So, in the digital space, the echo chamber works in a very similar way to the aforementioned. This is because the algorithms of these social networks are designed to show you content you’re likely to engage with; like your friends nodding in agreement to your ideas.


If you have certain beliefs or opinions, you start seeing content based on that and this strengthens your view or perception of your ideology whether it’s right or wrong because you're constantly being given the ammunition needed to guard your thoughts at that moment. You never get to listen in on the group who think the movie you like so much is a load of crap.


To give a clear definition, the echo chamber effect is simply being surrounded by voices that echo your own opinions, making it seem like everyone agrees with you and shutting out other perspectives.


It’s comfortable, no doubt, but it can limit your understanding of the world, truth, democracy, and social attachments. And even more alarming, sometimes, you’re not even aware you’re stuck in the chamber.


What Birthed this Effect?



I thought no one would ask but one thing that I believe gave rise to this is the need for constant validation of our biases, “the Confirmation Bias Syndrome”. I would have said truths but most of the ideologies we hold are riddled with societal biases that we aren’t even aware of.


At its root, an echo chamber relies on cognitive biases and data filtration. These biases cause people to prefer information that supports their prior ideas while ignoring or rejecting conflicting evidence even when it’s a fact.


This evidently results in individuals often surrounded by like-minded voices, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of belief validation.



The Impact on Knowledge




With every action taken, there’s always an equal and opposite reaction to be expected. Therefore, the conception of echo chambers has immense effects on the gathering and spread of knowledge to a great extent.


  • Firstly, echo chambers contribute to division by amplifying extreme views and diminishing exposure to moderate or opposing viewpoints. Simply put, it can make you hella biassed.


  • Secondly, it’s so easy to share misinformation within an echo chamber. When you are only exposed to information that aligns with your beliefs, you are less likely to critically evaluate its accuracy. As a result, false narratives thrive and trust in credible sources fall to an all-time low.


  • Finally, there is a very high possibility of an erosion of critical thinking which is very essential for growth. In the end you’re left with intellectual stagnation and a diminished capacity for critical analysis and independent thought, basically becoming a glorified NPC.


Surprising Positives


The just concluded paragraph gave distinct downsides of echo chambers, but let's be honest, the script can be flipped.


In your echo chamber, you can be part of a mighty army. We see this in the beehives, barbies, elites, swifties, ARMY, APC, PDP and day dreamers among others. This collective strength usually empowers people to take action, start movements, or advocate for causes they care about but would normally be too afraid to do alone.


Your echo chamber can also help you boost your confidence. The constant stream of agreement and high-fives from fellow enthusiasts can skyrocket your confidence to great heights. 


Aligning with your soul tribe is inevitable. Not gonna lie, when you’re surrounded by people who think like you, it can spark new ideas and collaborations. There can be blastful brainstorming sessions where you can create new ideas and recreate existing ones in totally fun ways.


To wrap this up and not bore you with my gajillion thoughts on this topic (which I sometimes end up doing anyway😄), here’s my great takeaway. 


While we are explorers in our diverse spheres, learning new ways to navigate life, there’s no denying that these little bubbles of agreement can have their perks as well as shortcomings.


We all know how fast we align with things that amplify the safe haven we create for ourselves. It isn’t entirely a bad thing as long as we always remember that there's always a bigger picture to be seen.


It's always important to make the effort of popping out of your head every once in a while to see what’s happening in the wider world. Learn to break free from your bubbles when they no longer fit and watch yourself grow like the great Banyan.



Fun Question:

I know some questions are completely off the fence but "would you fight for your 💩 if you see a stranger packing it in a bag👜"?


Post a Comment

8 Comments

  1. I've been hearing the phrase " Echo Chamber Effect" for quite some time, however I haven't come across any article or video that explains it better and relates it to real life than what I just read here. This is some Forbes level article.

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  2. I've never heard of this phrase before, but reading it made so much sense. This is what I experience everyday and funny enough, I never really knew it was called something. Thank you so much for this article. I'm a knowledge older today (whatever that means😂😂).

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  3. This was a very beautiful read, I’d say for a fact that at some point of our lives we all were/are guilty of this very phenomenon.

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  4. I really like the article, The echo chamber effect is one I'm familiar with...but I like how you linked it to our ideas and beliefs and how we constantly circle ourselves with affirmation. It's nice to step back and see the full picture once in a while.

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  5. Sometimes we go about our daily lives experiencing things we can’t put into words. It’s great to finally have a word, or in this case phrase to describe this. You’re a phenomenal writer.

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  6. I'd definitely throw hands for my poop.

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  7. Made me use a dictionary
    Now I feel smarter
    Nice post

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  8. Ceikway no wonder im so dumb because my friends are dumb

    ReplyDelete