How to get rid of the information bubble [5 tips] Ichaku [Perfect Gifts Selection]

How to get rid of the information bubble [5 tips]

Ways to look at the world objectively

It's only natural to stick with like-minded people.

It is comfortable and saves the resources of the brain: it does not have to constantly process new information and search for truth. But getting into an information bubble is not always beneficial. You may find yourself cut off from uncomfortable but important news and alternative points of view. This perception of reality often leads to bad decisions.

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Here's how not to get caught in the information bubble, and if you already are, how to get out of it.

What is an information bubble

An information bubble, or filter bubble, is a situation in which one is surrounded only by information that corresponds to one's values and views. The term was first coined by American activist Eli Pariser in 2011. In his book "Behind the Filter Wall," Pariser described how Internet giants intentionally tailor search results and the Friendlist to users' preferences, to make them spend more time on the right pages and click on links more often.

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Even later, in 2014, American scientists analyzed the messages that people see in social networking feeds. More than 10 million people who indicated liberal, conservative or centrist political views in their profiles were chosen to participate in the study. For six months, researchers followed what news these people read on social networks. It turned out they differed significantly. Conservatives saw news stories that mostly coincided with their views. The same was true for liberals.

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Researchers have identified three barriers that shield users from news they do not like.

The first and most serious barrier is the social circle: liberals and conservatives had no more than 20 percent of their friends with opposing political views.

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If the FriendLent was formed from random entries, then, according to scientists, almost half of the posts a person receives would not correspond to his views. But thanks to a sample of like-minded friends who shared only the news they liked, only about 30 uncomfortable posts per hundred would show up on Friendlent.

The second most important barrier is the work of algorithms that try to give out as much relevant content as possible based on likes and comments. Because of them, the share of posts with the opposite point of view fell by another 5-8%.

The third barrier is people's own choices. Researchers found that almost everyone tends to voluntarily skip news that contradicts their views, complain or even delete them from their feeds.

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The creation of information bubbles should be blamed not only on Internet corporations, but also on our brains. It chooses to look for confirmation of what we already know and to defend our beliefs and perceptions. All in order to spend as few resources as possible on processing new information.

How the information bubble affects us

At first glance, there is nothing wrong with information bubbles: we see what we really care about and are interested in. But in fact, as a result of algorithms and our brains, we get a one-sided picture of the world, and all alternative viewpoints and sources are left out in the cold.

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The information bubble shields us from new ideas, prevents us from objectively perceiving reality, makes us avoid discussing controversial topics, and is hostile to anyone who thinks otherwise. Our beliefs, even if wrong, become stronger because they are repeated many times within a group. This phenomenon is called the echo chamber effect.

In addition, we begin to behave the same way as other members of our like-minded group: for example, voting for the same political parties, buying the same products, and being treated for a new virus using the same methods. Critical thinking seems to shut down at this point: this is how our own people act - therefore, this is the right thing to do.

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Despite the barriers built by algorithms, the environment, and our brains, it is still possible to avoid getting caught in the information bubble and to get out of it. Here's what it takes to do it.

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TIP #2.

Reconfigure social networks and search engines

Science journalist David McRaney believes that algorithms need to be confused. The harder it is for them to figure out who you are - your political views, hobbies, occupation, social and marital status - the less likely they are to put you in the filter bubble with their recommendations.

You should start by turning off personalized feeds on social networks, so that you see your friends' posts in a chronological order, rather than in the algorithms' preferred order. And then do not be stingy with the likes and comments: choose not only important articles, but also pictures of cats and friends' posts about vacations. Makrani generally advises to start liking everything in a row - so the algorithms of social networks will definitely get confused.

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Depersonalize the search engines, too. Google searches for information based on your previous requests and open links, as well as the popularity of the site among other users. You can turn this option off. In your Google account, go to settings and then to "Data and Privacy". Below, under "What you've done and where you've been," uncheck the "History Savings Settings," "Ad Preference Settings," and "Personal Search Results.

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To picture the results of search engine was as objective, it is worth to try different queries - with different wording, combinations of words and clarifications. It is better to start with simple sets of words, such as "flu cure", and gradually add details: "ginger lemon cure flu proof.

But even without personalization in the top output will be the most popular and not necessarily the most informative and useful sites. So check at least a few more pages with results: what if an authoritative source is hiding somewhere behind the forums and articles with clickbait titles.

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TIP #1.

Don't remove uncomfortable friends

Listening to a person with an opinion that differs from ours as much as possible is not easy. And if the opponent tries to change our mind with arguments, references, and examples, he has every chance of running into the opposite effect: we will begin to persist in defending our point of view even more. In that case, instead of arguing and trying to sort things out, it will be much easier to delete an "inconvenient" online friend from social networks or to stop communicating with a person from an offline environment.

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It is because we intentionally shield ourselves from all carriers of points of view that are not close to us that we fall into the echo chamber. But, as science journalist Borislav Kozlovsky writes in his book Maximum Repost, social networks do leave us a loophole. We often add people we met under different circumstances to our friends - neighbors, former classmates, colleagues. It is enough not to block them at the slightest difference of opinion.

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TIP #3.

Combat cognitive distortions

People have been caught in information bubbles long before the advent of the Internet.

In a famous 1954 study, fans of two college soccer teams, Princeton and Dartmouth, were shown the same tape of a rather violent match between them and asked to count the violations. The result was paradoxical. Princeton fans found far more infractions in the actions of Dartmouth players. And Dartmouth fans found much more offense in the actions of Princeton players. Yet they did not notice their team's infractions.

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Cognitive distortions - irrational beliefs that put up that third barrier that literally keeps inconvenient news and facts out of our information bubble - are to blame.

One of these is selective, or selective, perception, which causes us to pay attention only to what is consistent with our perceptions and expectations and ignore everything else.

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Another similar cognitive distortion is confirmation bias. But in this case, not only do we notice information that is beneficial and convenient to us, but we also find explanations and evidence for it. If emotion is involved in the process of perception, however, we are dealing with motivated reasoning. It causes us to believe more in what will make us happy or calm us down.

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But while such mechanisms are built into the workings of the brain, this does not mean that it is impossible to fight them. As social psychologists Carol Tevris and Elliot Aronson write in The Mistakes That Were Made (But Not By Me), we have learned to eat vegetables with an appetite for them, even though the brain pushes us to consume sugar, so we can deal with cognitive distortions as well.

The best way to combat them is to learn to notice them, to fix them, and not to act under their influence. Read the news consciously and pay attention to your emotions and thoughts in that moment. For example, take the time to repost an article about a study proving that chocolate prolongs life. Ask yourself the question: Do you really trust these scientists, or are you just excited about enjoying your favorite dessert in a beneficial way?

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TIP #4

Check the information

One of the main dangers of information bubbles is that fake news and misconceptions spread rapidly within them, sometimes even dangerously. For example, in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, over 6,000 people were hospitalized with methanol poisoning. All of them believed the fakes on the Internet that drinking methanol could stop the virus.

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So, even if the news was shared by a friend, you shouldn't believe it right away. You should be especially picky about impersonal news, such as "the internet is outraged by the words of a politician." Try to get to the source and find out who is really outraged. It may turn out that unscrupulous journalists are only referring to a couple of comments from trolls.

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TIP #5.

Don't argue, discuss.

When we meet someone with an opposing point of view on social media, we run the risk of engaging in hours-long, unproductive arguments. But instead of trying to prove your opponent right, use the discussion as a kind of exercise: listen to the arguments of the other side and offer your own, try to understand how the arguments of the interlocutor are constructed and what led them to this opinion.

Think of it as a Socratic argument: in such a discussion, the winner is not the person who left the last comment in the thread, but the one who has gained knowledge and understanding as a result.

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It is also worth trying an argument with scientifically proven effectiveness. Researchers at Cornell University have spent two years following a section on a Reddit forum called "Change My Views," where users deliberately step outside their information bubble.

They give their opinions on issues that concern them - from the presidential election to the need to ban zoos - and invite others to try their hand at the art of change. One of the main rules of the section is that if the person who started the discussion has actually changed their opinion, they should write about it and explain what arguments influenced them.

Having studied the phrases that forum users found most persuasive, scientists have come to conclusions about how to conduct an Internet discussion. For example, a post should not use the same words as the original post, but their synonyms. Links to evidence, long sentences, and a calm tone of communication also help influence opponents. Successful arguments often contain the phrases "for example," "in particular," "and so on."

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Surprisingly, scientists also often use the evasive mode of communication, when a person does not assert anything, but only assumes and uses expressions like "it is possible that...".

But even in a forum where people come to exchange arguments and ask to be reconsidered, these techniques do not always work. Researchers note that in most cases, the author of the original post still stands by his or her opinion. And if a person's point of view has not been shaken by the first four posts, it is likely that they will not change it, no matter how hard their opponents try.

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