Have you ever been trying to direct a friend to something on the web, told them to Google exactly what you did, and yet their search results are completely different from yours?
There’s a reason for that and most of us have no idea this one example reveals a hidden process that is shaping our worldview in dramatic ways.
The insight we share with you today is both sobering and totally empowering. In other words, it explains a lot, and if we use the insight right, we can create a more empowering worldview for ourselves!
Ever Widening Circles points you to a real “ah-ha!” moment today!
Let’s get right to it! Here, from TED-ED, are the most insightful 9 minutes you may spend this week, and you can use the wisdom here to inform every move you make on the web from here on out! Enjoy!
Our frequent readers know how much we love TED. TED.com is one of the most interesting corners of the web, and EWC features the best of their talks a couple of times each month. If I do say so myself, EWC and TED are the only places I have found where smart people, curious and hopeful, can always come away transformed. Check out our list of favorites from TED here!
Information Junk Food versus Information Vegetables
So let’s see if we’ve got this straight: There’s a whole universe of things hidden from us, depending on our initial clicks.
It doesn’t matter if we are Google searching or on Facebook. If we are getting fed “information junk food” we will never know it!
With that as a huge reality check, it follows that no matter which side of any issue we are on, we will think all OUR information–everything we see–is everything to be seen.
But that’s not how it works anymore.
Now we are just seeing more and more of what we previously clicked on, only confirming the previous click. And any information–no matter how true or relevant–that varies from that direction is hidden from us.
And down the rabbit hole we go, deeper and deeper; never knowing the scope or importance of all we missed. Perhaps getting angrier and angrier, or more and more fearful.
This explains the current political situation in our country perfectly, the divisions in families, the disconnect between generations. All the acrimony and deep distrust is completely predictable if this is how we have all gotten our information for the last two years, or even a decade!
Repairing Broken Relationships
One of the most astonishing things about this insight is realizing how many broken relationships this algorithmic system is responsible for.
Have you been “unfriending” or distancing yourself from others who you just can’t understand anymore?
I’ll tell you the truth, I simply could not fathom how my brother could think like he does on a particular issue recently. (And I’m sure he thought the same of my views!)
But this totally explains it: every time he clicked in one direction, liked or shared a particular point of view, a funny meme, or a biased YouTube video, it only took him deeper in that direction.
And of course, we’re all in this, the same is true for me!
He never saw the information I was getting, so of course, he is bewildered by my views, and since I assume he has the same information as I do (and vice versa) the acrimony and frustration built up between us.
Do you have a co-worker or relative you can’t relate to anymore? Now we know why we are both so strident about our positions: our “facts” ARE different!
The Debate about “Facts” and “Truth”
So this insight also explains all the mayhem about “alternative facts” and “truth”.
Remember: our leaders are not immune to the downside of this algorithmic bias.
If they use the internet, they are just as vulnerable as we are. Every decision-maker in our country has their own web filter bubble, so depending on where they started, years ago with their internet clicking tendencies, they have been slowly drawn down into their own, unique black hole of biases and limited knowledge.
This means that the more strident politicians are–on one side of the spectrum or the other–the smaller their knowledge base, the smaller their worldview. They really are not operating with all the facts, just the information that confirmed the last assumption.
Oh my, that’s a bit scary no matter which side you are on!
Taking Back Our Worldview
When I first watched that TED Talk, it felt like dozens of puzzle pieces, floating randomly, just snapped into place.
This one insight explains so much.
Just think of how much happier, productive and optimistic people might be if they realized this was happening to them, and changed their “clicking” habits.
I’m going to be working harder to confuse the algorithm: clicking only on things I know are neutral and credible sources, maybe even dabble in some areas I’ve not explored in technology, music, science, sports, etc. I suspect that most importantly, we might stop seeing all the negativity if we firmly refuse the urge to click on any of it.
No telling what I will learn that completely astonishes me and informs my point of view.
And that’s the best way to turn this rather discouraging situation into a positive: share it, show others, spread the word. If we all started expanding our information base from the universally respected sources for information, like The Smithsonian, National Geographic Society, The Library of Congress Digital Collection, POV, TED.com, Reuters, and BBC.
And really, any of the sources you see on this website are well-springs of insightful, credible information!
Join us here daily, and then start following any of the links we include in our articles. They are all places you can trust.
Have some fun now, taking some new journeys, even if they seem like they may challenge what you thought you knew!
Stay open, curious and optimistic!
~ Dr. Lynda
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