Thoughts 2/28

A reading that really resonated with me this week is “The Daily We” by Cass Sustein. She talked about phenomena that we’ve already mentioned in class: self-selection and group polarization. After reading this article and reflecting on my own experiences regarding these two topics, I’ve pretty much gone nowhere in terms of finding insight. While there is the privilege to filter what you want and don’t want to see through the Internet, there is a tradeoff for perhaps a wider range of information that you receive.

For self-selection, I think a very fitting example is the recent viral phenomenon of the dress. It was either white and gold or blue and black, and that seemed to be the only thing the Internet talked about for hours. It’s crazy to me that something as dumb as a dress was not only able to make Facebook and Tumblr headlines, but even able to reach TV outlets and news channels.

I have an especially difficult time with group polarization. I have many friends who are involved in activist groups on campus, and I often feel that because I’m close friends with them I have to express similar sentiments. It’s gotten to a point where I’ve sat in on club meetings and have become, by association, administrator of Facebook events; all this while, I am still ambivalent and undecided when my peers engage in discussions around demonstrations and protests. I often feel like I don’t know enough about these issues to form an opinion as concrete as my peers’, but there’s a degree of hesitancy I face when I try to voice these concerns as they continue to invite me to more meetings.

Overall, I agreed with a lot of the concerns Cass presented in this article. I think that these phenomena happen because, well, “Kim Kardashian’s New Baby Bump” is a much sexier title than “Political Debate Continues in White House.” These sensationalist people, items, and events naturally attract attention, but I think it’s up to the individual to recognize the narrow range of news he/she is receiving. There are a lot of news outlets available at our fingertips, so it’s up to us to recognize that we’re no longer updated on the world. While it might take more time to read articles that pertain to the world, I think that’s an important tradeoff to make.