Don’t Live In An Echo Chamber
Don’t Live In An Echo Chamber
There’s this thing that sometimes happens inside our heads when we think thoughts.
Sometimes — maybe even a lot of the time — when we have thoughts, we assume they’re right and true, just because we thought them.
You don’t have to let your imagination run very far without figuring that this assumption might be a problem.
You Need People
We’re not saying you don’t think good thoughts, but sometimes — okay, all the time — you need other people with other thoughts to come along and challenge your thoughts. This accomplishes one of two things:
- You see that your thought might be on the right track, but it needs to develop and grow into something that can lead to action. This development can only happen through hearing others’ perspectives.
- You are further convinced that your thought or idea is true, but you evaluate why you hold your conviction and shore it up.
Both of these outcomes are good and desirable. One results in a clarification and development of your thoughts into actions. In the other, your thoughts become more firm, and you understand why you believe a truth or idea. In either outcome, you grow as a person and deepen your understanding of whatever it is you’re thinking about. It’s a win-win situation!
Avoid the Echo Chamber
Here’s where it gets tricky.
Sometimes the way your thoughts get challenged can be awkward and uncomfortable. Maybe someone steps out and publicly disagrees with you. Maybe the tone of the challenge is less than kind, or even meant to have an edge to it. Maybe the person challenging your thought or belief has wildly different beliefs, values, and perspectives, and you find it hard to hear anything they say.
It can be filled with conflict and tension.
So in an attempt to quell any discomfort when it comes to differing perspectives, we create echo chambers. In a literal echo chamber, when you say something, all you hear after that is the echo of what you’ve just said. A proverbial echo chamber works the same way. It’s what happens when you only gather voices and sources that you know you’ll already agree with. Whether it be ideologically, politically, or even theologically, in an echo chamber, you aren’t challenged to think about any other kinds of perspectives from any other kinds of people. You aren’t pushed to evaluate your thoughts and re-orient them to truth, nor are you inspired to deepen your conviction or explain it. There’s a good bit of confirmation bias that happens in an echo chamber, too, and it usually only muddies the waters.
We’ve got to bust out of our echo chambers.
Building a Better You
The only way to counteract the echo chamber effect is to intentionally invite other perspectives into your life. Yes, it might be awkward at first, and you might make some mistakes as you get to know other people from different backgrounds and experiences. But that’s okay. As you learn more about them and their perspectives, your thoughts and assumptions will be challenged. You’ll have to evaluate and ask yourself why you hold certain beliefs and assumptions. You might even realize some of those assumptions were wrong, and then you’ll reorient yourself to what’s right. You’ll get back on track.
And you’ll grow into a deeper, more well-rounded and confident person because of it.
Eventually, you’ll come to see that having different people around you to challenge your thoughts and assumptions is actually a benefit, not a burden.