In light of my more recent content, I thought it appropriate to address the worrying trend of informational silo-ing and the creation of echo chambers in our lives to ensure that we only see and hear things that confirm what we already believe or want to believe.
In today’s world, social media has become an essential part of daily life, connecting us with friends and family, our favorite influencers, and other groups we may identify with. But it also plays a more impactful role with far-reaching ramifications; social media is the number one source of information for almost everyone.
The real problem, however, is that currently, social media creates an environment that incentivizes people to produce content that increases engagement with the platform, which, sadly, almost always trends towards invoking feelings of anger, tribalism, us-vs-them, etc.
The result has been that for the past decade, we have been consuming information that confirms our belonging to and the moral superiority of whatever group we identify with while simultaneously demonizing people that identify with an opposing group.
People who follow my content will know that I am a big fan of Jonathan Haidt. He wrote a great piece for the Atlantic about a year ago that addressed many issues stemming from the “information silos” created through social media feeds. He just released another article warning about how integrating AI with social media will result in four imminent threats and proposed five reforms to protect against them.
One of these threats is that we will see a weakening of liberal democracies due to the growing inability to understand each other. He has argued that this will be caused by the erosion of our shared stories, one of the key ingredients holding society together. Shared stories are what lay the foundation of our common ground. If we lose the ability to identify what we have in common, then we lose the trust in each other that is necessary for a stable democracy.
My recent content with Pastor Jeff and with appearing on the Mormon Book Review podcast last week is the latest in my attempts to break out of these echo chambers and show the commonalities we share with my viewers. This is something that I think is desperately needed now more than ever. We need MORE interactions with people who have opposing views, not less.
Remember, our focus must first be on viewing everyone as a Child of God. Our Prophet warned us in his last address, "Contention reinforces the false notion that confrontation is the way to resolve differences, but it never is.” Now this doesn’t mean we can’t stand up for our beliefs. On the contrary, we need to be a beacon of truth now more than ever, but what that looks like must be rooted in Christ's doctrine.
If we start seeing divinity in everyone, especially those we disagree with, we can build stronger relationships, communities, and nations. So let’s keep breaking down those echo chambers, one conversation at a time.