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What Helps You Break Your Echo Chamber?

The Doe Team

by The Doe Team

| December 23, 2021

Why echo chambers are dangerous and what you can do to break yours.

Echo chambers can cut us off from knowledge and perspectives that challenge our thinking and fuel our growth. Here’s why echo chambers are dangerous and what you can do to break yours so you can connect with others meaningfully and broaden your worldview.

Here at The Doe, we talk about the media echo chamber a lot. Why? Because it’s a major hurdle to fostering productive civil discourse.

But breaking out of the echo chamber is easier said than done. So what are some practical ways to do it?

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Let's Get On the Same Page: What Is an Echo Chamber?

An echo chamber is a virtual or real-life environment where similar information, ideas and beliefs are amplified or reinforced while different or competing views are censored. Groupthink, bad science, poor journalism, propaganda, confirmation bias, cognitive bias and self-reinforcing online social networks can all create echo chambers.

We create a media echo chamber when we hear the same perspectives and opinions repeatedly, despite the availability of information from various sources.

For example, many people follow social media accounts that reflect and reinforce their beliefs. They trap themselves in an echo chamber by surrounding themselves with people who hold the same opinions and reading solely materials that validate their points of view.

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Why Should We Break Our Echo Chamber?

Echo chambers can disseminate misinformation and distort our perspective, making it difficult to consider opposing viewpoints and discuss complex topics. They often lead to a lack of innovative ideas, dissenting opinions and provocative thoughts—limiting our growth opportunities and stifling civil discourse.

The continuous and constant affirmation of one's own beliefs can become divisive, creating polarized communities that lack the social capital to collaborate on common issues. We become less capable of addressing concerns objectively and productively.

Echo chambers cut us off from knowledge that can challenge our beliefs and help us grow. They prevent us from gaining exposure to various opinions and perspectives to support meaningful civil discourse so we can broaden our worldview and fuel our personal development.

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How Can We Break Out of Our Echo Chamber?

The first step to breaking our echo chamber is to acknowledge that it exists. It's easy to be blind to the fact that we're trapped in our echo chamber and deny that there are other opinions.

Take a look at the people and groups you interact with—do they all hold the same perspectives and beliefs as you do? If they do, it’s time to broaden your horizons.

The antidote to echo chambers is exposure to new information, points of view and experiences. We need to dialogue with people with different opinions to help us come together, share ideas and solve issues.

Breaking your echo chamber takes discipline and practice. We must cultivate self-awareness and get information from various sources. Here's how:

  • Read the news from different media outlets, including those that hold points of view that you don't agree with. Don't take what you read at face value. Approach every story through a critical lens and consider the motivations behind it.
  • Don't make snap judgments and let your biases influence your decisions. Apply critical thinking, do your research, consider the facts and challenge your thought process before coming to a conclusion.
  • Be open to the idea that others may have a valid point of view, even if you don't agree with it. Understand your triggers so you don’t react impulsively when you come across a different opinion.
  • Create an “architecture of serendipity” to encourage chance encounters with different people, events and opinions. This can help us break the compartmentalization of information.
  • Participate in conversations that broach difficult subjects—having dialogues with those who agree with you is just as important as engaging with people with different views.
  • Read anonymous narratives by authors who represent different points of view. We can gain a better understanding and appreciation for people and cultures we may not otherwise encounter.
  • Realize that people who have different values, perspectives and priorities from you aren't your enemies. Rather than arguing or fighting with them, listen to their reasoning and ask questions in a nonjudgmental way to understand where they're coming from.
  • Participate in different communities both online and offline. Celebrating our commonalities and differences is key to promoting understanding and respect.

We also asked our readers to share what helps them break down their echo chambers. Here’s what they shared:

  • “By becoming my own devil’s advocate constantly, and a harsh one at that.”
  • “I keep people I disagree with in my social media timelines so I remember that [different opinions] exist.”
  • “By quitting social media for a while.”
  • “I expose myself to content outside of my beliefs.”

It's easy to get stuck in an echo chamber and become complacent. We need to overcome the inertia and leave the comfort zone to reduce polarization and engage productively with those who hold different points of view.

Breaking our echo chambers requires effort, but it can fuel our personal development, help us connect with others in meaningful ways and broaden our worldview.

What's your strategy for breaking your echo chamber?

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