On politics and social media bubbles

Fair warning: this is a mostly a musing but also about the US election, so if you’re well over reading about it, you might want to ignore this post.

Like most people, I spent last night in front of a news channel feeling increasingly bewildered at the results of the 2016 election. I feel like I’ve been in a state of shock ever since.

As someone not from the States, my main US-news source is virtual. I don’t have a TV and I haven’t read a newspaper since March, so I get my news from social media. The past few months, my newsfeed has been a constant stream of Hillary Clinton support, of videos explaining policy, of celebrity endorsements, of articles about her actions. And I let myself believe that, because saw nothing but support, she was clearly going to win. Everything I read made it seem like her winning was inevitable (plus the odd conspiracy theorist commenting that the election was rigged in her favour).

But obviously, that didn’t happen.

It made me think about the danger in believing that your world is representative of the actual world. In my little bubble, it feels like everyone believes in the same things I do, so it’s hard to see that the real world is not quite as tolerant and welcoming. Social media is an amazing way of sharing knowledge and opinions, but on the flip side it can act as an echo chamber where your own thoughts are reflected back to you, warping your idea of what’s actually going on in the world.

I don’t know what the future will hold for the US – and how that will affect the world at large – but I know that I’ll be reading my “suggested articles” with a grain of salt from now on.

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