reading time: 3 minutes Are you thinking too much like everyone around you? You’re not alone. We’re all subject to the Internet echo-chamber. Although it’s not a scientific term (yet), the echo-chamber concept recognizes something specific that happens when people and information meet, especially on social media. “If you surround yourself with voices that echo similar opinions to those you’re feeding out, they will be reinforced in your mind as mainstream, to the point that it can distort your perception of what is the general consensus.” – Alan Martin, Wired An echo-chamber creates a polarization effect – you feel comfortable around other people who share your opinions, and are more likely to see those who don’t share your opinion as “wrong” or “weird.” This bias can start out as something innocuous but it can quickly make it difficult for you to think outside of the box and spark new ideas. What’s worse is that social technology is making it harder to get out of the echo chamber. Not only are you more likely to reach out with and connect with information that confirms your bias, but algorithms give you more of what you’re looking for. If you’re relying on your newsfeed, your friends and your friend’s friends for information, you’re fully locked in the echo chamber. Breaking out can be tough but it’s worth it. By taking these super easy steps to find new and opposing ideas, you’ll expand your worldview, become more creative and avoid biased thinking. Here’s how: Be conscious of the bias. The first step to eliminating your echo chamber is to recognize it. You’ve read this article, so pat yourself on the back (hooray!). If you’re aware of the tendency of people and social technology to build boxes of “sameness,” you’re more likely to look for ways to break out. Keep following people you’re not exactly friends with on Facebook. Facebook makes it easy to unfollow people who you disagree with, without actually unfriending them. But if you keep a few of these not-quite-friends around, Facebook’s algorithm is more likely to pull in a wider range of posts and updates. Keep your mom’s best friend’s dog groomer on your list and view her page occasionally. You’ll prompt the algorithm to shake up your feed for you automatically. Click on links that aren’t your cup of tea. You don’t have to seek out stories that infuriate you on a weekly basis, but make an effort to click on things that are just outside of your interest level. This is going to open your exposure to broader information, and help tweak your feed as well. Unfollow someone you know a little too well. Whether it’s your favorite thought leader on Twitter or your oldest friend on Facebook, if you find yourself agreeing with every single thing that they say it may be time to get some perspective. Unfollow them for a week, and see how your information diet expands. Get offline. Yep – I know you’re reading this on a computer or mobile device. And I know we’re a digital marketing team so being online is kind of our thing, but one of the best ways to eliminate the echo chamber is just to stop listening. Spend some time with yourself, unplug and figure out what you actually think. It’s good for your mind, body and soul. I’ve recently started spending 10 to 15 minutes in silence before hopping on a device in the morning and it’s helpful! How are you going to get out of the echo chamber?