I still don’t know.
I mean, Pariser talks a lot about how advertising and web searches are becoming more personalized, and that different people see different things for the exact same search terms, etc. But the picture he paints of the web of the future is dark, where we live in our own little bubble separated from everyone else, never exposed to new content and languishing in the misery of a world that is all about us, and he talks way more about this dark future than about all the information on the Internet that’s being hidden from me right now. That makes me kind of skeptical.
After all, is we can create a filter bubble, unbeknownst to us, with just a few clicks, can’t we also consciously pop that filter bubble by actively taking an interest in things that we normally wouldn’t? I don’t really read the news, but I could. There is always a top story on CNN.com, and most of the time I don’t read it. But I can. And there are newspaper boxes all across campus that are most definitely not personalized just for me – I can go read one of them. There are still many places to get news and information that is not being tailored to my interests and personality.
However, while I have had many, many conversations with my friends over the past few days, I have not even heard mentioned the earthquake in Turkey. It happened on Friday. Over 550 people died. And people are still being rescued. The reason that I haven’t heard about the earthquake in Turkey from my friends is because of our self-induced filter bubble. Sure, my Google search results will be different from yours – and yes, sometimes that will be bad for me, because I won’t be exposed to as many completely foreign concepts as I might otherwise be. But really, the reason that my filter bubble is so small is because I make it that way. We discuss the pretty, shiny, silly things that amuse us right now, and will not matter tomorrow, and we only simply notice, or sometimes even ignore completely, the big things that are happening right now. We do this because it’s easier, more fun, less stressful – not because we don’t have access to those more important news stories or information.