• Tim Stevenson

Soft Core Radicalisation and the Echo Chamber

Humour me for 90 seconds + adjust the usual 'radicalisation' frame of reference to instead consider your own beliefs, influences + actions.


As we look out from the comfort of our own worldview, most of us wouldn't welcome the association with a label that carries such extremist connotations. Even when by definition, to be radical is to be 'very different from the usual or traditional'. Dictionarists expand it to 'favouring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions or institutions'. Context is everything, but by this characterisation, many of us might find ourselves plotted somewhere on the radicalisation map.


THE ECHO CHAMBER


Imagine a situation where someone only encounters beliefs or opinions that support their own position. Existing views are reinforced + alternative ideas disregarded. This is an Echo Chamber.


Human interaction would ordinarily break holes in our reverberating walls. However, the last 365 days have been anything but normal. Deprived of face-to-face contact, we may have instead sought to fulfil a basic human need through online community.


And there, waiting with a warm embrace was your social media account. What begins with seemingly innocent titillation soon transgresses + unwittingly you find yourself under the covers handcuffed to something that has rather questionable intentions.


YOU'RE NOW IN BED WITH THE ALGORITHM


Grooming you with promoted posts + suggested accounts that tickle you just where you like it, you become captivated in the throes of content consumption.


The brave might venture out in search of new voices + opposing views but the algorithm has no respect for such 'safe word' tactics. Concerns of intentional echo chamber disruption being mistaken for genuine interest + the fear of elevating 'unsavoury' voices is real. Some may conclude that it is safer for everybody if we just stay indoors.


For all the positives we know that social media has a dark side. Is it mind control + manipulation masquerading as free speech?


My hope is that we have not climbed into bed with a lipstick-wearing pig only to find out it has a penchant for sadomasochism.


Thinking outside your box has never been more important.



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