The eruption of confirmation bias through social media

Do your research and expand your perspective before jumping behind the next big sensation


Everybody should apply a healthy dose of skepticism to the things they read and hear. When exposed to a new concept, idea or claim, the first thing to do is question its validity. 

I often hear phrases directly quoted from social media being spewed out by people who lack a well-rounded understanding of the issue. Nothing is more beneficial to someone pushing a false agenda than a group of people who become broken records for a concept they don’t fully understand.

An increasing number of people are receiving their news from social media, where feeds are personalized. The glaring issue with getting information from personalized feeds is the lack of perspectives you are exposed to. When all the information you have about a specific issue is a handful of 30-second videos designed to grab your attention and pull interaction from your profile, your perspective on a certain topic becomes extremely one-sided, and you get sucked into a loop of confirmation bias.

The consequences of this “feed bubble” are opposing sides with extremely polarized views who often judge each other harshly and unfairly. No matter what side you take, an undeniable fact about our world is its growing polarity. People often only see rivals and enemies instead of real people behind a screen.

Beliefs that demonize specific parties and generalize them generate tension and polarize those who had hitherto held neutral positions. Those who perpetuate such ideas benefit from the resulting conflict as it generates even more polarity and tension.

Many people may share, like and comment to feel like they are doing something important with their time and to avoid scrutinization. The extreme tension between opposing groups has resulted in drastic consequences for those who make lighthearted jokes about the other side and has ultimately created a toxic environment that breeds closed-mindedness and fear among media users. People often feel obligated to support ideas that are popular, and this performative activism inhibits the ability of movements to inflict real change.

Though modern media is a great way to bring awareness to prevalent issues, it has the same potential to spread lies that benefit the select few who perpetuate them. It is easy to be moved by the strong messages spread by such people, but the unfortunate truth is that much of what people say online is either simply false or only one piece of the puzzle. Even seemingly obvious sentiments often are multilayered and complicated. Much understanding is lost in the chaotic translation of social media. From video to video, creator to creator, bias and misinformation flood our feeds with distorted perspectives. 

For lack of better words or cliches, don’t believe everything you see on the Internet. If you are inspired by a video, dig deeper into its contents before liking it. If you care about an issue, learn more about its roots and the practicality of the proposed solutions. If you yourself would like to share something, educate yourself on all points of view before jumping to conclusions. Collaboration and cooperation stem from compromise and the willingness to see things from other people’s perspectives. 

If everyone took the time to become well-informed and less hostile toward those with opposing beliefs, meaningless polarized ideas would circulate less, and the Internet would become a safer place to share opinions from all points of view. If people took a step off the ego-driven roller coaster of “being right,” and listened to each other, common ground could be established, and compromise could be enacted from both sides. Don’t live in a feed bubble.