A friend of mine sent me a great article by Amanda Hess that was recently in the New York Times, “How to Escape Your Political Bubble for a Clearer View“.
Hess refers to a filter bubble that describes the tendency of social networks like Facebook and Twitter to lock users into personalized feedback loops, each with its own news sources, cultural touchstones and political inclinations. We seem to like these places, and so do social media companies — they keep us clicking from one self-affirmation to another. But now our bubbles are being blamed for leading us toward the most divisive presidency in recent memory, and suddenly, the bubble doesn’t feel so inviting anymore. So media and tech companies are pivoting, selling us a whole suite of offerings aimed at bursting the bubbles they helped to create.
Hess notes that there are now digital tools that enable users to assess their own biases, and her article provides links to many of those tools.
I tried out one of these, a quiz known as Do you live in a bubble?
The quiz is based on Charles Murray’s 2012 book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010.” Murray, a libertarian political scientist and author, believes that here exists a new upper class that’s completely disconnected from the average white American and American culture at large.
I took the quiz, and got a score of 39 points, out of a total of 100 points possible. The higher your score, the thinner your bubble. The lower, the more insulated you might be from mainstream American culture.
Here is the category it looks like I most closely aligned with:
11–80: A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents. Typical: 33.
That seems like a pretty wide range of scores, but given that the typical score of people in this category is 33, it seemed like that’s the category I fell into.
I guess that describes me pretty well, but such a score also means that I live in a pretty big bubble.
However, given that the average score is 42, and the median score is 41, it seems I’m not alone. (I’m guessing the scores are biased based on who takes such a quiz – I found it on a PBS web site…)
As I think back over the sorts of questions that were asked as part of the quiz, I don’t think I would want to change many of my behaviors so that I could get a higher score, making me closer to mainstream American culture.
And I guess that attitude is part of what puts me in a bubble…