Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
It’s difficult to see a clear path nowadays. Social media rips apart this already muddied path. It does this by showing you yourself. Too much. Twitter can be an echo chamber of your own views reverberated back to you, creating a bland wall of agreement. People group together, and a mutual interest becomes an exclusive one. How has this happened, and how can we open our eyes again?
In the good old days (worryingly sounding like a Brexiteer here), mainstream newspapers were the predominant source of news. These have so many flaws and complications – too many to get into right now. Yet one of the few good attributes it had was the ability to open up a conversation. You might be reading a column that you have chosen to read, one that you respect or agree with. But such is the nature of the newspaper, you would naturally look over to an opposing argument, which would widen your perspective. You’d have a deeper understanding of the issue at hand, building up a more tolerant outlook generally. Unfortunately, social media doesn’t work like this. It is the most diverse medium and a labyrinth of all forms of opinion – objectively. Yet, in the user’s hands this is anything but the case.
Twitter is the prime example. You choose who you follow, and these views are beamed to you on a daily basis. Twitter’s algorithm will then find people similar to these and recommend them to you. Deeper into the rabbit-hole you go. It doesn’t take long for you to be consumed daily by a whirlwind of your own thoughts. This can happen to anyone, of any political persuasion. It’s not just your preferred information and worldview that you’re bombarded by either, but your preferred misinformation. I must stress that this is a common problem amongst all people. Having said that, the place where this kind of tunnel vision is clearest is amongst far-right and far-left ideologies. The two political extremes are hotspots for the systematic exclusion of alternative opinion. And because often the opinions are so extreme, it’s very obvious to point out that most of what someone consumes is a sh*theap of extremity. It also rids fake news of its irrelevancy. Even in the rare instance that a correction to false stories is published right away, this correction (the truth) will only be spread to people to whose opinion it appeals to. The phrase ‘preaching to the converted’ springs to mind.
It’s not just Twitter either, look into the Facebook comments of any group and this becomes as clear as day. This is because Facebook groups collate the same kinds of people together, who naturally share similar opinions on issues discussed. It’s why when some terrible site like The LAD Bible publishes a clickbait-inducing news story (which is often vastly exaggerated or entirely made up) the comments are so trashy and similar. Only those people with the strongest of opinions will take to commenting, but in groups like these, those strong opinions will all be of the same ilk. Hell, even Match of the Day has an awful comments section, because sadly there are so many sexist and horrible football fans. The LAD Bible in particular, because its very existence is predicated on “lad” culture features a torrent of abuse in these sections, particularly for stories about women or immigrants. Yet this is not even supposed to be a political page.
In any walk of life, following just the people you agree with is like having exactly the same group of friends all your life. It’s dangerous and frankly, boring.