It’s time for a social experiment. Let’s start with a few quick questions. First off, what are your political and religious views? What sort of lifestyle do you live? What are your hobbies and interests? How do you define yourself? It’s okay, you can be honest.
Now, go scroll through your friends on Facebook, forums you may follow, and any other social media you visit. Chances are, if I asked those people the same questions that I just asked you, the results will probably be pretty similar. That makes sense though. It’s only natural that the people whom you chose to associate with would share common tastes and beliefs.
That brings us to the final step. Take a close look at what media you’re consuming on a daily basis; specifically, news. Are you more interested in what’s going on in your area, so you keep a close eye on the local papers and network affiliates? Or, are you more concerned about the larger scale events, so you turn the national and international stage? Do you just really not care about mainstream news at all, and just reach for a sports, electronics, or gossip magazine to keep up to date on your niche interests? It probably wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine that your media consumption aligns with the answers from the sections one and two up there.
This habit to surround ourselves with ideals which mirror our own is known in the media as the echo chamber, and it’s more prevalent than ever with the advent of social media. Never before has one been able to be completely surrounded by information, and learn so little.
Think of it as mental exercise. Going through the same routine might be enough to get you by, and get easy over time, but it won’t really be improving. The best way to keep getting better is to change the routine, and increase the difficulty to push your limits. Likewise, the only way to challenge yourself mentally is to go outside of your comfort zone, and experience new ideas, even if you may disagree with them. The most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind.
So, today, just try to get out of your comfort zone and bring a little more balance to your media diet. Scroll over to the BBC and get a feel for what’s going on globally. Maybe you could grab a local periodical to read while you’re waiting for the bus. Switch over to CNN during commercials on your nightly reality TV. Scoop up a magazine that you normally wouldn’t from that stack in your doctor’s office. It may be a break from the routine, and I can’t promise you’ll enjoy yourself. However; it is a positive step toward becoming a more informed, well-rounded person.