Social Media & Groupthink

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By: Lauren Oliver

@laurennoli

The introduction of the internet has drastically changed the lives of humans across the globe. The rate at which we’re able to consume and share information via technology is unrivaled in history. Because of the drastic changes in communication, community, and interaction due to the internet, problems have arisen that look differently than they have historically. The creation of echo chambers, the ability to choose who you interact with online, and the ease of manipulating information from the media has created a situation that mimics groupthink at times.

While ideological echo chambers are certainly nothing new, the internet and specifically social media provide the path to live in a ideological bubble. As Political Polarization & Media Habits states the 20% of people who fall into the far right or far left political categories have a greater impact on the political process than their middle of the line counterparts. In part this could be from the echo chambers platforms such as Facebook creates. Because users are most likely to interact with like minded individuals on social media the ability to spread information through that space is easier. Along with the ability to choose which news outlets or sources you follow on social media, the tendency to interact with only certain people also makes polarization easy. Without a voice from the middle or other side of an issue, it’s easy to loose sight of what’s real and what’s over-zealous.

Because of the presence of echo chambers and the lax regulations pertaining to who can consider themselves an expert or reputable news source, manipulation of the media is accessible and easy. Not only is it easy to find reputable looking but factually incorrect news, but social media platform algorithms are also rigged specifically to encourage an echo chamber as discussed in The Reason Your Feed Became an Echo Chamber.

What can we do to encourage interacting with people who think differently from ourselves and be to coexist with others?  Consuming media analytically and ensuring news comes from multiple sources with different biases and maintaining an open mind when talking to people who think differently than ourselves. Groupthink is a dangerous mind set that prevents people from seeing situations clearly and leads to bad decision on the behalf of the group, and preventing this mindset is vital to an open mind.

Photo Credit: theconversation.com

Citations:

“Political Polarization & Media Habits” Amy Mitchell-Jeffrey Gottfried-Jocelyn Kiley-Katerina Matsa – http://www.journalism.org/2014/10/21/political-polarization-media-habits/
“The Reason Your Feed Became An Echo Chamber – And What To Do About It” NPR Staff – http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/07/24/486941582/the-reason-your-feed-became-an-echo-chamber-and-what-to-do-about-it

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism