Beware the filter bubble
It’s a great book. Make sure you keep a highlighter close when you read it (there is a tonne of great stuff between the covers). Kelly writes about the trends he believes will one day seem pre-ordained. Years from now we will look back to 2017 and realise things were moving in a particular direction and we were powerless to stop them. They were, and are, inevitable.
Kelly writes about the trends he thinks will provide the greatest development and innovation. One of the areas he focuses on is filtering. How do we engage with and consume the media we experience each day? The filtering process will continue to narrow until every consumer has a custom content filter just for them. It’s based on search history, on social media likes, on friends’ likes and on what the filterers anticipate will interest someone in the future. Ultimately, the filterers will filter things for you before you even realise you want them filtered.
How about that? Yep, it’s that kind of book.
While he spends a lot of time discussing the positive influence this could have on our lives, he also writes about the danger filter bubbles pose. Because everyone’s filter will be specific to him or her, individuals will no longer be exposed to anything that challenges his or her thinking or provides an alternative point of view. The bubble may be comfortable, but it may also be dangerous. If everyone lives in a content bubble, we will end up with narrow debates and an inability to collaborate. We end up with divisions. We end up alone in our bubbles and distrustful of other bubbles.
Know your bubble
We need to acknowledge our bubbles and know them intimately.
Check your search history. Check your apps. Check your music. Your books. Your 'recently viewed' section on Netflix. All of these things contribute to your bubble.
Now, think of the person who recommended each of those items. Who told you about your favourite tv show? Why did you decide to watch Vikings in a weekend instead of The Crown? These people are in your bubble (or you are in theirs).
Which content do you consume today because of things you liked as a young adult? For me, the answer to that question is animated shows and comics.
There’s more to my bubble, but you get the idea.
I have instant access to the things I like and enjoy. The things I don’t like will never reach me. If they do, I can block them, delete them and ignore them. I can go an entire day without my views and ideas being challenged.
I don’t think this is a good thing.
Bubbles are comfortable until they’re not. Bubbles become uncomfortable when someone or something bursts your bubble for you.
Former US President Barack Obama talked about social bubbles and the challenge they pose to the world in his farewell speech on January 11, 2017.
He said, 'increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.'
After you spend some time getting to know your bubble, go one step further.
Burst your bubble.