Over the days (and weeks) of my writing here on Dialogos, I’ve been conversing deeply with friends and acquaintances. I will even find myself diving into the thick of it with total strangers. One of my major observations along the way is that, increasingly, many people are seeking out echo chambers. It’s not exactly how they might frame it, but people tend to prefer to have exchanges with like-minded individuals. Wading into arguments with those holding opposing views is fatiguing and generally inconclusive. To be non-judgmental while listening to jarring comments is difficult. To remain genuinely curious about the other’s “crazy” ideas is challenging. There is naturally a desire to want to jump in, to rebut and defend one’s beliefs. For some (many?), having one’s beliefs challenged is tantamount to upending one’s very existence.
I’ve seen how when engaging in a conversation with someone you don’t know well, at the outset you never know where the other person stands. Are we aligned or not? As the conversation evolves, little signals get picked up as to which side of which sensitive topic(s) everyone is. If we detect alignment (i.e. safety), the faucets open up and strong bonding follows. If there’s less debate and conflict in these conversations, there’s an evident need to exchange and to connect. I’ve observed time and again, especially on topics that are against the mainstream narrative, many are tired of not feeling able to speak up. Furthermore, there’s also a risk of stagnating and marinating in one’s viewpoints.
Is this something that resonates with you? Does it trigger you? What strategies do you employ to avoid too many echo chambers?
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