Out of the comfort zone Politics

Mi Bubble es su Bubble…swapping information bubble


What happens when you step out of your information bubble?

Since the rise to power of Donald J. Trump, we’ve all gotten acquainted to fake news and to “information bubbles”. Well, I should speak for myself, because perhaps you knew the two concepts already. What would happen if two people swapped their information bubbles?

It is an intriguing question. And one which has led to an experiment where two liberals and a conservative agree to swap newsfeeds for a week.

Original newsfeeds

Conservative newsfeed

The two participating conservatives (patriots) got their daily fix of news from conservative talk radio station WDTK 101.5 FM The Patriot http://patriotdetroit.com/ (although he switches from 1-3 pm to listen to Rush Limbaugh)

He also gets his news online from The Drudge Report http://drudgereport.com/ (a site I never heard of before, and which I just visited. It looks ugly, but okay)…

And of course, he follows Donald Trump on twitter, to get the real news.

Liberal newsfeed

The liberal gay couple participating gets his news from NPR  and the New York Times  They also read feminish-focused blog Jezebel.

They, like me, never heard of the Drudge report before.

Equal background, but opposite views

All participants have a somewhat similar background. Michgan born, college educated, middle class-income homeowners. But their worldviews differ as much as their source of news.

Swapping news


Which newspaper you read defines your information bubble, and worldview

The conservative (not) following liberal news.

4 days before the experiment would begin (March 20th), the participants were sent instructions. The conservative enthusiastically began to check out the newsfeed he was supposed to follow. But he got jittery. He didn’t want to participate anymore:  “I just looked at jezebel.com, the headline “Federal Judge in Hawaii Blocks Trump’s Second Travel Ban Just in the Nick of Time” and ensuing article is total biased crap. I specifically chose “total crap” because NO respectable news feed I listen to, read or watch describe things as ‘shitty.’ (..) I browsed more of jezebel.com and cannot believe what I am reading,”  he wrote. “This site is nothing more than a ranting website for the lunatic fringe that shows NO RESPECT for anything or anybody. I have no interest in punishing myself by interacting for another second with this website.”

On the NY Times, he said: “The NY Times does not print accurate facts in areas I know, so I have no confidence or interest in reading about things I don’t know because I cannot believe what I read.”

Frankly, I can feel that sentiment, because there is no thing which causes my trust in media to plummet like a wrong interpretation of facts about a field I happen to know a thing or two about…

He did listen to NPR though, which he admitted “wasn’t too outrageious, it wasn’t torture.”

He was upset with some topics being discussed though: something about a school wanting a new world map because Africa seems to small: “Boston schools want to change the map because students coming from African nations had lower self-worth because their home land was being minimized by this archaic map. Really? We have nothing more important to talk about than the size of Somalia?”

And he kinda hated not reading a single word of positivity on Trump.

The liberals exposing themselves to conservative news

The liberals call the experiment a nightmare. They managed to last 5 days though, but then they needed an NYT-fix. They mentioned that important and unimportant stories stand side-by-side, making it hard to figure out what is important: “I found it hard over the course of the week to know what the important stories were,” Leija said. “I felt under-informed because all that tiny text creates a sense of not being able to tell what is important. It was depressing in a strange way.”

“You have really important stories all mixed up with really unimportant stories on the same list. I just didn’t understand how that could ever be a helpful tool for understanding what’s happening in the world.”

They also listend to The Patriot each days. Hours and hourse filled with shock and disgust at the cranky radio hosts filling their airtime with complaints.

Changing minds by seeing the world from their perspective?

So, did following the news from the perspective of the other bring the two sides closer to one another? Nope. Not at all. Both cleared the newsfeeds of the other. The funny thing, though, is that the liberal is sad about the conservatives being in their conservative bubble, without acknowledging he’s in a bubble himself.

But the liberal and conservative agree on one thing. As the conservative says: “If they say black and I say white there’s no way to agree.”

They could also agree that a non-partisan news-source could bring the two together. The conservative recommended Drudge Report. The liberal the NY Times….

Source: Michigan Divided

One comment

  • April 12, 2017 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Interesting idea and a good effort. You’re fighting an uphill battle, though.

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