Echo Chamber

HotNews April 6, 2017

Since the election, I’ve become increasingly annoyed when I look at Netflix, Amazon, Facebook and Instagram. I watched one nature documentary on Netflix in January, and I shopped on Amazon for a duffel bag a few months back. On Facebook I “Liked” an NGO my son works for, and I follow a mountain biker on Instagram.

The annoying result is that Netflix now thinks my video-watching taste leans exclusively toward nature shows, Amazon is convinced that I need luggage, my Facebook feed is flooded with select political causes, and Instagram is promoting a mountain biking vacation in New Zealand.

I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar. I understand that these tech giants farm my data to tailor ads to my spending habits and my feed to my browsing trends, but there’s an unintended impact on us as a society when this happens.

When we are surrounded by our own selves, on an island of our exclusive tastes, thoughts, ideas and perspectives, we are left in a universe that is unchallenged and antiseptic. We are not exposed to contrary arguments, divergent theories or provocative theses. As writer Chimamanda Adichie implied, we become victims of understanding the world through a single story.  

The simple annoyance that our Netflix suggestions for shows to watch are narrow is actually a bigger issue; it forces each of us into a virtual echo chamber, separate from each other, leaving our thoughts and perspectives unexpanded and unchallenged. In contrast, living and working in the real world, in a diverse community, is less familiar and less comfortable. It’s not easy when people nearby may not look like us, think like us, have a common background, perspective or experiences. Between us there may be anger, frustration and disagreement.

By allowing children the time to engage in the messiness of interpersonal relationships in a community, Peninsula confronts the inherent discomforts of diversity through dialog, class meetings and courageous conversations both among students and adults alike. From our Core Values, we recognize, appreciate and honor the differences in each child and find inspiration to dismantle the echo chamber. I hope you take a moment to read our Core Values and find inspiration for your travels.