The First Amendment grants people the right to express their opinions publicly and for the press to publish freely. While it is important to read articles and opinions, it is necessary to be aware of echo chambers and ensure that you have balanced opinions from both sides of the issue at hand.
But what are echo chambers?
Echo chambers create environments where a person only encounters information or opinions that reflect and reinforce their own viewpoints. This can occur online, through social media, or even in person. This is dangerous because it polarizes views, can spread misinformation, distorts a person’s perspective, and supports their confirmation bias. By actively avoiding echo chambers, you can develop educated opinions and come to respect the other side of an argument even though you may disagree.
Eliminating echo chambers can be as easy as researching the pro and con, conservative and liberal, or any other opposing sides of an issue. It can also be as easy as following far left, far right, and central news sources on social media.
Organizations such as AllSides provide a left, right, and center view on an issue. AllSides also analyzed 800+ different sources and developed a chart (that is subject to change) showing where different news stations fall on the far left, left lean, central, right lean, and far-right spectrum. See the chart below for an example. If you see that all of your news sources and information are coming from only one section within the spectrum, start listening to some news sources from the opposite side of the spectrum.
A great way to understand the possible echo chambers in your life is to explore an interactive piece the Wall Street Journal created. It is called “Red Feed, Blue Feed”. It shows social media posts from the conservative and liberal sides of issues right next to each other. While the page has been archived, it is worth exploring to see the biases and interpretations that different political viewpoints hold on an issue and develop your own opinion on it.
Echo chambers are dangerous, but they can be avoided. By balancing the news sources you listen to, being aware of your own biases, and researching both sides of an issue, you can avoid echo chambers.