Lockdowns and bursting filter bubbles

Maybe you’ve not really thought about this before, but a significant portion of the content you see when you’re online is curated by filter bubbles, more specifically your filter bubbles, and lockdown means that more and more of what we watch and read is filtered by them.

Filter Bubble:

a situation in which an internet user encounters only information and opinions that conform to and reinforce their own beliefs, caused by algorithms that personalise an individual’s online experience.

“the personalisation of the web could gradually isolate individual users into their own filter bubbles”

Much of what you see when you’re sat in front of your computer is content that it is tailored to what’s thought is of most interest to you, your hobbies, brands that you buy from, the politics that you follow and the type of news that you read are just some examples.

This isn’t some scary conspiracy that I’m throwing out there, this is how social media and online advertising and bascially the internet works, I mean why would they target you with stuff you weren’t particularly interested in? For most people much of our lives in front of our devices is carefully curated by filter bubbles that deliver advertising, news, products and ideas that are tailored to what it’s thought will be of most interest to us.

And lockdown has made this something we should be far more aware of than most people currently are.

When we go to work in offices or meet up with friends in social situations we’re exposed to differing points of view, my best friend has some very different views and opinions than I do, often neither of us is necessarily right or wrong but we do have some pretty strong debates where he puts his point of view across and I share mine. It doesn’t mean that I’ll change my mind but, it gives me a very different perspective.

It temporarily bursts my filter bubbles!

Now that we find ourselves in a prolonged period of lockdown and many of these casual social interactions have been taken away from us, we’re living more and more inside the content that the filter bubbles are carefully curating for us.

I am a huge fan of technology and how it can have a positive effect on the world, but without social interaction, without others with different opinions and perspectives to challenge our way of thinking then I do worry that with these extended lock downs we’ll increasingly see people moving further and further toward right wing or left wing view points, or simply becoming less willing to understand and accept the point of view or opinions of others, because we’re less and less exposed to these alternative views and opinions.

I think it’s good to at least be thinking about this, as you’re fed information with one point of view then maybe sometimes it’s worth looking for an alternative one just so that you can understand what someone else might be thinking, even if you still end up not agreeing with it you are at least aware of it.

As important as it is to have fun nights with groups of friends and family on Zoom during lock down. Why not just have a night with your mate at the virtual pub on zoom as well, I have some great debates and disagreements with my best friend, it’s usually at the pub and it’s usually just him and myself in a quiet corner. He and I have very different views and I’m not sure we’d be so candid if there were other people too close by, but this is probably why we get on so well, he forces me to see another point of view, another perspective. We’ve continued having these discussions during lock down even though we can’t meet in person.

As we’ve gone in and out of these lockdowns I’ve started to see how this is affecting people around me, but I have a sense that this is a much more global issue hence the reason for writing this post and wanting to make people more aware of just how important this is.

I guess my advice is simple, be aware that you have filter bubbles and during lockdown you need to be much more active in finding ways to keep bursting them and encourage others to burst theirs too.

Stay safe everyone!

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