Echo Chamber in Politics

Echo Chamber in Politics

In the past years, we have seen the emergence of the concept of the Echo Chamber. Talking about this concept we can go through a wide range of themes from which we see this effect. 

 

But what is an Echo Chamber?

Echo Chamber is the theory that says that people select information that conforms to their preferences. Echo Chamber is sometimes the main factor in political polarization, having opposite groups with different opinions and without dialogue between them. It is important for us, as a citizen, to analyze our sources of information, because if we do not do that, the consequences can be terrible.

“When all think alike, then no one is thinking.” – Walter Lippmann

 

Taking some examples from the United States of America, with its visible two echo chambers at the main political level: Democrats and Republicans. The research says that in the United States we can say that there is two Echo Chamber: Democrats and Republicans. A big part of the Americans have only friends from the same political party. In the case of the United States is clearly the division between Democrats and Republicans.

Analysing a study from the Research Center in 2017 that asked American citizens how many friends they have from a different party the responses are really conclusive. 2 in 3 Democrats only have a few or none close Republicans friends. Asking the same question to Republicans, half of them say that they have a few or none Democratic friends. Both sides say that their friends’ network is mainly of people with the same ideology. In the following graphics is possible to see the data collected and how dangerous this would be.

 

How many of your friends are… (?)

After seeing these graphics we can conclude easily that the US Politics is causing an Echo Chamber, in this case between the two biggest parties. People prefer to keep themselves in the comfort zone and not to be confronted with the different ideas that could affect their ideology. This is one of the biggest problems of our society nowadays, people are keeping themselves in a close circle and do not see or do not want to see what is around them. We can define this behavior as an Ideological Echo Chamber because people shape their friendships in part because of the ideology. 

 

But how can we escape from an evolving Echo Chamber?

  • The most important thing to do is to realize that we are inside the Echo Chamber.
  • It´s necessary to analyze our sources of information so we can know that we are not receiving the news of a website tending favorably to a party.
  • To avoid the Echo Chamber is necessary to use additional sources of information and to search for different views on the same topic. This way it is easier to avoid the Echo Chamber.

 

The consequences of not analyzing our sources of information can take us to the Echo Chamber. Sometimes it is not easy to leave or not to enter an Echo Chamber. The political interests can have a lot of influence in the media. If we look at the case of the German Elections in 2017 we understand that sometimes we are caught inside an Echo Chamber without knowing.

In Germany, the Sputnik journal, controlled by the Russian government wrote a significant number of positive articles about the party AFD comparing to the other parties. This journal has a big influence in Germany, that is because the German population who speaks Russian is estimated by 3 million. In a country that the population trust in the social media this can have a big impact, changing the intention of the vote! 

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

By Eduardo Pereira

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