Agreeing to Disagree: Why You Need to Pop Your Filter Bubble

Imagine being in a conversation with someone: a friend, a relative, a stranger that you just met. You share stories and laughs with each other for some time. Everything seems to be going well! Then, the topic of the conversation shifts towards something a little more contentious. Gradually, the conversation becomes less of a friendly chat and more of a burgeoning debate. You just can’t agree with each other on this one topic and it’s frustrating. 

 

Have you ever been in this situation? 

 

 

I have and I’m sure you know how unpleasant it can be. In fact, it can be so unpleasant that we avoid not just topics and situations that will incite differences, but also the people that we think will stir up those disputes. We enjoy hanging around people that are like us and that agree with us. We all want to avoid arguments (at least, I know I do) and that is one way of doing so. It’s just easier and more pleasant to avoid it altogether, right? 

 

With all its data and algorithms, this happens in our digital and social media environment, perhaps even more than it does offline. If you’ve ever noticed how homogenous and consistent your social media feed and your Google searches are, it’s because the algorithms are designed to show you content based on who you follow and what you like. Eli Pariser calls this the filter bubble (as explained in the video below), and all of us have our own distinct version of it. Having content that is tailored to you is certainly useful, but what we often don’t think about is what gets left out and how that might affect us. 

 

 

When we avoid hearing from and interacting with people that are different from us to prevent ourselves from being challenged, I think we start to lose out on some really valuable things. Diversity is such an important element in society. It is through this that we’re able to encounter and hear from people from different backgrounds, with different cultures and opinions from our own. That’s not a bad thing! It can help enlighten each other to things that the other may not even be aware of, or can help you appreciate where they’re coming from. It’s also an opportunity for the other person to be challenged by being exposed to a different opinion, and they can learn from it too. 

 

 

I’m not suggesting that we completely agree with each other all the time; I constantly have disagreements with people and I don’t always hold the same opinions that my friends and family do. However, instead of lashing out or immediately disregarding others’ viewpoints, make the effort to really listen before speaking. When we focus less on the fact that “we’re different” or “I disagree with you” and more on hearing the other person out, we can have really fruitful conversations. It helps us get to a place where we can learn from each other and make more informed decisions going forward, knowing both sides of the argument. 

 

We all like to be right, and it’s tough when we aren’t. But I like to believe that more than that, we like to be heard and appreciated. It’s hard to do that when we’re all yelling at each other and refusing to listen. When we can get to a place of meaningful conversation, we can be a lot more productive and can help each other grow. While not all conversations can be agreed upon, we can resolve it by agreeing to disagree. At the very least, everyone is acknowledged and better understood in the process. That can make a world of a difference.