How Homophily in Social Media can Cause Us to Become Biased and Isolated.

How Social Media Connects Us

Almost everyone today has some form of social media site they use to connect with friends, family, co-workers, or people with like minded interests. For the most part Social Media creates a sense of belonging, you can find other people outside of your immediate surroundings that enjoy the same things as you. You can make friends when in real life it seems like a very hard thing to do. Social Media creates homophily, (link to my post about in formation on homophily can be found here: https://carrieneanover13.medium.com/how-social-media-allows-us-to-find-real-connections-without-a-physical-connection-60375cc0d438). It allows us to keep in touch with loved ones who are far away, or to share pictures of our kids with high school friends. However, is homophily really a positive factor?

How Homophily in Social Media Can Cause us To be Biased and Isolate Us

Algorithms in social media are a form of homophily, when you add a friend, like a post, view a page, watch a new clip, all of this is tracked. The social media site tracks your likes and also your dislikes, it learns from you so it can offer suggestions of posts or people that your likes align with. Think about this, if we are never exposed to a different opinion, and we only speak to people or read news posts that confirm our beliefs does this not isolate us from everything else, possibly from the truth? If someone believes so strongly in something and every day they see posts that give them conviction in their beliefs and there is no news contradicting their idea would that not validate them and in some who have extremist personalities drive them to radicalization or even terrorism? If you have a negative belief towards a specific race and all you see, read, or hear about that race is negative it creates an illusory truth effect. Having the same information repeated to us over and over only solidifies our beliefs and makes them more concrete. This is where things like racism or hate crimes begin, how people start to hate someone, or could push them into political extremism. It fuels the flames of those who have sociocentric thinking, people who believe their beliefs are true just because they believe they are true.

How can We Un-train Our Brain

It is our duty to search for the truth. There is nothing wrong with having a strong belief in something, but it is your duty to do your research. You need to fact check any information you may read, believing someone just because you know them, or you like them does not mean the information they are sharing is true. Our country was built on the amendment that we have the right of free speech, anyone can say anything, but that doesn’t make them correct. We live in a technological world and finding information is easier today than it has every been, it is our duty to research facts, ask questions, learn the truth.

References

Bessi, A., Zollo, F., Michela, D. V., Puliga, M., Scala, A., Caldarelli, G., Quattrociocchi, W. (2016). Users polarization on facebook and youtube. PLoS One, 11(8) doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1371/journal.pone.0159641

Centola, Daymon. (10/15/2020). “Why Social Media Makes us More Plarized and how to fix it”. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-social-media-makes-us-more-polarized-and-how-to-fix-it/

Student, mom, tired.