The Echo Chamber of Social Media

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I have been caught in the echo chamber of social media for a long time, but the last few months it has become significantly worse. All around me people rise up, whether on Twitter, Facebook or comments, letting everyone know their strongly held opinions.

But nothing is original.

Everyone is echoing everyone else. As is usually the case, there are two sides and both are extremes. Nuanced opinion and thinking outside the box? That doesn’t happen in echo chambers.

Every once in a while, the echoes collide, creating a palpable dissonance, and then the echoes go their separate ways, making sure they land with what and who is most comfortable. No one ever changes their minds in an echo chamber. We change our minds when we connect over shared bread and real relationships.

Dialogue is best done in relationship, over breaking bread, over coffee.

This echo chamber is bad for our health. I’m convinced of it. I’m convinced that future research will show an increase in ulcers, heart disease, depression, and other stress related illness based on our being unable to turn off the chatter, remove ourselves from the echo chamber.

The echo chamber is even worse for our souls. My soul was in bad shape last week and it was directly related to the social media echo chamber. Because too many echoes create chaos. Information and beliefs are amplified out of proportion to what I can handle.

I am as guilty as anyone, probably more so. I participate in the echo chamber, getting caught up until my head aches from the sounds reverberating around me. Until I am so tired of the sound of my voice and my own opinion that I want to scream.

How do I separate myself?

It’s simple, but really hard. I turn it off. I turn off the echo chamber and I dive into real life and real relationships.So since last week, that is what I have done. The likes or dislikes of social media, the sharing of often useless information, the over abundance of opinions — I had to separate myself so that I could breathe, so I could think clearly. More importantly, I needed to hear God. When you are surrounded by such a cacophony of echoes, you can’t hear yourself, much less God.

Not surprisingly, only a week in to the separation and I can think more clearly. I get home and listen to Mozart and drink a London Fog. I read articles from all sides that I want to read, not those that are stuck in my Facebook face. I pray in ways that I can’t pray when I am surrounded by echoes.

I will not stay off line for long. I have good connections on social media and I know it can be used in great ways. Separating myself in this way is helping me see how I can better use social media when I do return.

But for now, the echo chamber has been banished from my heart and my soul, and I am a healthier person.

[And just in case you’re wondering how I posted this since I have supposedly left Facebook for a time, I have a little secret – I linked accounts so that it would automatically post.]

10 thoughts on “The Echo Chamber of Social Media

  1. Thank you for sharing! I totally agree. The last few weeks I’ve been offline because I just couldn’t take the overwhelming flood of nonsense info and perfected lives on social media anymore. So I switched off and it’s been healthy.

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  2. Marylyn,
    I’m a guy here in Alaska who is a follower if Jesus and found your blog through a post that was shared by a friend. Your writing has blessed me more than once and our are one of the few author’s links I occasionally post on my Facebook page.. Thank you for sharing your voice. Below is a link to an article written by a guy who knows something about “Emotional Intelligence” and provides some advice on dealing with the stress of “toxic” people I thought you might appreciate..

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-smart-people-handle-difficult-dr-travis-bradberry

    Keep sharing your heart. There are people listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For two weeks each summer, I go completely offline. No email, no FB, no WhatsApp, no Instagram. Nothing. It is bliss, and such a lifeline! I resisted for a long time getting a smartphone, partly because I was worried I would find keeping that time truly internet free that much harder. But no, still works just fine :-)

    The rest of the time, social media is such an infuriating mix of “echo chamber” and relationship. What a gift it is to keep up with what is going on in friends’ lives. Friends who I used to have cups of coffee with but who now live in other cities, countries, continents. What a gift to still know enough to pray for each other, to enourage and spur each other on.

    I wish it was possible to have the one without the other…

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  4. Yes, it is like an echo chamber, and what is the purpose of an echo chamber? I don’t really know. Maybe someone can enlighten me. What it reminds me of is the way my hearing aids work. Last evening we went to a potluck here at the place we are staying in Florida. We were the last to arrive although we weren’t late. As soon as we opened the door the sound blasted at me – 70 or 80 people all talking at once and all reverberating off the walls and ceiling! I’ve learned to pick where I sit, if I can, off to one side, not in the middle. And then concentrate on the people just opposite and beside me. Your normal hearing (thank God for it!) tunes out the extraneous noise, but hearing aids aren’t quite as good. And we need to do that with the over abundance of information that overwhelms us – tune it out as best we can, listen first to God, immerse ourselves in real life with real people, as you say so well. Thank you, Marilyn for a thought provoking piece.

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