A thinking partner who isn’t an echo chamber…how many of us dare to have such collaborators? ~ M. Heffernan
You’ve heard me talk frequently about how great it is to work in a location where I’m able to have some very nifty and different folks just down the hall, around the corner and sitting at the table. One of the best features of the space are those different folks with whom I can share thoughts and, goodness knows, different points of view with on any huge number of topics but that’s what I like about the space; it’s not an echo chamber. How does that play into my overall goal to bring you retirement and wellness suggestions? The danger of an echo chamber, which is really just an environment where we hear nothing but our own point of view, is that it prevents us from potentially learning, growing and being more aware of different ideas. Our own thinking has the very real risk of not being entirely accurate. A shock perhaps to hear but indeed it can happen!
Now, we all have different political beliefs and at times a very different way of looking at the environment of work but share a belief that dialogue is invaluable. A few of us were noticing that far too many people were only hearing what they wanted to hear. The danger of that? We get tunnel vision. As the younger crowd likes to say, “back in the day…” the echo chamber was less obvious and we most certainly didn’t talk about it. We got the newspaper once a day, watched or listened to the news once a day and maybe got a weekly news magazine. Perhaps you lived in a family where two or three newspapers were delivered or you went out to get them but that wasn’t exactly the norm. We had friends with any number of views because we had something else in common – we played tennis together or our families were close. Cokie Roberts, a political commentator, grew up in a highly political family in D.C. where her parents served as Congressional Representatives for the state of Louisiana (you’ll want to google her as her history is really remarkable) and where, as she tells it, you had play dates, dinners and family celebrations with people who held strong and articulate but different beliefs and yet somehow managed to all come together at the table. Later they would be able to work out solutions to massive country-wide problems specifically because they could sit down together and hear each other.
Today? Your newsfeed on Facebook is controlled by your views and what you’ve ‘liked’ in the past. The news you are even exposed to is now directly impacted by the choices you make in terms of what you see – literally. What I see on Facebook is vastly different then what you see and not just because we have different friends! Instagram and Twitter are the same. What is ‘suggested’ to us is directly impacted by our past choices as to what we have read or liked. In The New York Times you can see lists for “Most Viewed”,“Most E-Mailed” and “Recommended For You”. A good thing? Depends on how you look at it. Good because it makes it simple to find those stories which might be of the most interest to you but bad because you aren’t even remotely exposed to differing ideas.
Here’s my challenge to you this week: go out and find differing points of view. Check out an article in the paper you’d usually not read, watch or listen to a news piece you’d rather turn off. I’m not asking you to do this to make you angry or upset but rather because it can be incredibly valuable to look at the world from another vantage point.
Wishing you the best for your week!