The Filter Bubble

The day after the election, our Culture and Social Media Technologies class discussed  how the election played out on our social media sites and we all had different responses. Since it is highly unlikely your friends on Facebook and the people you follow on Twitter are they same as someone else’s, your feeds will be quite different. Well Bianca Bosker writes in her article One Election Night Seen 31 Million Ways, Thanks to Social Medianot only how the election played out on social media but also how social media affected the viewing of this historical event.

Bosker comments that election night was the first election where social media went from “the sideshow to the main event.” The election use to be the one event that Americans can share together, but with social media so prevalent, we are each seeing a different stream of content and information from everyone else. This past election, more than any other, was experienced through media multiplexity, where it was watched, viewed, and listened through various media channels such as phones, tablets, Facebook, and Twitter streams. Being able to personalize the content you see on your social media sites makes each viewing unique and different from others. People weren’t only focused on television or listening to the “experts.” Rather, they were paying attention to their friends on Facebook, the twitterers, and bloggers as well. Your social media profile delivers different information from another person’s leading to, what Bosker refers to as, a “different election playing out.”

Bosker references the idea of the “filter bubble” where we filter information based on our own likes, beliefs, interests, and ideas, but says it is difficult to speculate the effects of it because everyone is in one. Now I post a question to you. Should we worry about the “divisive force” that social media has or do we sit back because social media’s affordances- to let us pick our own news- can be seen as a positive aspect of social media? In my opinion we can’t worry about this divisive force. It’s important to have your own opinion and views. The nature of social media sites and the affordances allows us to express our own identity through our public displays of connection, which danah boyd and Judith Donath write about. We can learn from and about someone by seeing them within the context of their connections. It’s important to be authentic and convey the identity you want through your social media profiles and a main part of that is whom you follow and friend. If that leads to seeing different information from someone else, so be it. It’s natural for us to connect and follow those with similar interests. This doesn’t excuse us from being cultured and knowing the different opinions out there.  What is great about social media is after the election, through blogs, SMS, and comment sections, we can connect by giving our own feedback on other opinions and ideas. Social media gives us a greater and stronger voice and I urge you all to use it!


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