Social media prompts users to live within echo chambers. Echo chambers are created by individuals with similar ideologies, reinforcing ideas and inhibiting diversity of thought.
Within the many social media platforms, blogs are the most user specific. For every hobby, religion, food preference and random thought there is blog, which allows an individual to feel as though they belong. This belonging prioritizes group identity, restricting diversity of thought and preventing personal development. “Highly cohesive groups intensely reject deviant individuals,” or ideas that threaten the group’s values (Gilbert, et al).
Humans naturally oversimplify complex ideas to make them easier to understand (Baranuik). Social media encourages and accelerates the simplification process encouraging: “tribalism, insulation” through a diverse selection of news sources (Baranuik). Individuals can “cherry-pick” the information that they are exposed to (Baranuik). Interestingly, the increase is the diversity of media outlets has decreased diversity of thought because many social media users are not exposed to information that conflicts with their beliefs.
The University of Illinois conducted a study over 1,000 comments placed on the top
33 blogs (Gilbert, et al.). The semantics of each comment were evaluated using a standardized assessment. Of the comments studied 49.4% of comments are neutral, 39.2% agreed with the author and 11.1% disagreed author (Gilbert et. Al). The low controversy in blog comments shows that blog users rarely follow blogs that they disagree with.
Social theorist and utilitarian John Stuart Mill strongly believed diversity of thoug
ht to be “invaluable” to personal development. In an age of convenience, it is more necessary than ever to do what is challenging. To create a more equitable and inclusive society, social media users must step away from comfortable URLS and explore new ideas and ways of thinking.