Has social media become an ‘echo chamber’ of like-mindedness?


| John Maytham talks to journalist Mathew Blackman about voices in the digital age and what that means about the discourse and debates that constantly hang out on social media.

Social media – the great divider. For or against, these platforms have provided an outlet for dramatically opposing sides to find, engage and, hopefully, respect one another.

However, what should be healthy debate has become anything but, says journalist Mathew Blackman.

Because of the algorithm, Blackman says, people have been grouped into what he called an “echo chamber” where a community of people with the same or similar views are only exposed to each other and healthy discussion is lost in petty online debate.

Blackman argues that instead of social media grouping people into like-minded “villages,” he would want to see it become a place resembling his “coffee shop” where people of different opinions and ideologies can engage in healthy discourse where each voice is heard.

Is this a case of these sites just linking people to what they like through the content and people they engage with or is this just building a culture of homogeny?

Either way, Blackman brings up an important conversation about voices in the digital age and what that means about the discourse and debates that constantly hang out on social media.

We live in a very difficult moment and in a difficult place in South Africa in that people seem to have lost the ability to communicate with one another, and because we suffer from the legacies of apartheid and the structural architecture of where we live, we very rarely encounter people from different socio-economic and racial backgrounds to each other… we are losing a sense of politeness.

Mathew Blackman, journalist

This article first appeared on 702 : Has social media become an ‘echo chamber’ of like-mindedness?

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