Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Yoroku: Use social media not as fear-feeding echo chamber, but to connect to the truth

The phenomenon in which the sharing of concurring views on social media leads to the amplification and reinforcement of the same belief is called the "echo chamber" effect. It is, in a sense, a closed and confined space.

The fact that fringe candidate Donald Trump won in the last U.S. presidential election is said to be the result of the echo chamber effect. The views of a biased few and falsified information swallowed society whole as echoes invited echoes among like-minded groups of people.

Today, due to the threat of the novel coronavirus, people all around the world are stuck in a different kind of chamber: our homes. In major cities in Japan, where an explosion of infections could happen at any moment, the authorities' request to the public to refrain from going out has birthed the term "coronavirus fatigue."

The stress people experience from being forced to live closed off from the rest of society as infections spread is of serious concern. There have been reports from overseas of rising domestic violence cases in places where people have been banned from going out. Perhaps it is the sad nature of human beings to take out one's internal darkness on others in the form of physical attacks.

When seeking ties to the outside world through social media, we tend to gravitate toward information and opinions that resonate with the anxiety and fear that we harbor in our hearts. The homes in which we are huddled can become echo chambers where gloomy misinformation and speculation wear down our souls.

Though not by design, the coronavirus pandemic has opened our eyes to teleworking and online learning. Let us make our homes not an echo chamber of fear. Instead, allow us to use the internet to connect with the rest of society through truth.

("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)

Also in The Mainichi

The Mainichi on social media