Upon reading Sunstein’s “The Daily Me,” I got to thinking about last week’s social media movement in favor (or in some cases, in opposition) of marital rights for gay and lesbian couples. My girlfriend and I drove to Columbus, NE this weekend and had a discussion on what kind of content gets shared by our peers and friends on Facebook, and I tried to tie that in to Sunstein’s reading.
Sunstein’s point is that we customize our media and information input to our tastes to the point that we hear and read what we want to hear and read. We hate the “other” opinion so much that we surround ourselves with what we know and agree with that we don’t see the other side of the coin and our thoughts and opinions become stagnant.
How this relates to the equality campaign last week is that on Facebook we normally surround ourselves with friends and peers that have similar thoughts and opinions on big matters such as that. Sure, there will be those who don’t agree, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of our contacts share the same values and ideals (more or less) as we do. Now, while that campaign had a very good intention (at least in my biased opinion), I doubt it did too much to influence people. Of course it’s wonderful to raise awareness and show solidarity, but you’re raising awareness and solidarity with people who already feel the same way as you. So according to that, what good is the movement? You’re most likely not going to change the minds of those who don’t believe in that kind of equality by changing your profile picture, so then it comes down to just you and like-minded people congratulating each other on thinking the exact same way.
Again, it was a social media movement with fantastic intentions, but because we’re surrounded with those who think the same way, I doubt much meaningful impact was made. This is the point that I’m seeing with Sunstein’s piece, that by tailoring our input and output, we just further our already pre-existing ideas and values.