Bursting the Social Media Bubble

By March 21, 2017Thoughts

Earlier this year, Buzzfeed announced the launch of “Outside Your Bubble”. This new feature will appear on most of its shared articles in an effort to give their audience a broader perspective on global issues, outside of what they already see on their social media feeds.

This comes at a time when Buzzfeed is attempting to establish its position in the ‘real news’ arena. Scrolling through the homepage, you are inundated with content choices. From 15 Glorious Reasons Double Chocolate Desserts Are Better Than A Boyfriend (spoiler alert: obviously they are) and how to describe your favourite movie using only emojis, to the harder hitting, general and breaking news.

So, is “Outside Your Bubble” going to make a difference in a real, tangible way?

Having only recently made the move down under, I lived through those dark days in the UK last June, otherwise known as Brexit.  As a millennial/aspirational living in London, the remain vote seemed to be a given. Proudly wearing a sticker on my jacket, I met friends after work to discuss all the most important aspects of the debate: Nigel Farage’s terrible taste – referring to his morals, allies and suits.

However, in my home town, a short train ride an hour north of London, it was a different story. The leave campaign was upping its popularity.  In order to hold my own in (heated) family discussions I had to read up as much as possible on what Brexit meant for British trade relationships, on if we’d be able to travel freely in Europe, and what it would mean for the minority groups in our community. I broadened my knowledge of the debate, not only so that I could understand the implications of what the vote could do to our country, but also to understand where the other side was coming from.

But what if majority of the country wasn’t reading up on the debate as a whole entity? What if people were only focusing on what their parents were telling them or on what that political know it all on their newsfeed kept banging on about?

In 2017, we pride ourselves on the fact that we are constantly ‘on’ and globally are spending more and more time on social media every single day. But what good does this do if it only serves to reinforce the bubbles to which we’ve become so attached?

So, would having “Outside Your Bubble” have helped the UK out last June, and will it make a difference for the upcoming challenges of 2017? Or is it just another feature that’s been added to our feed for us to scroll past in a daze on the morning commute?

You’d like to think so. 2017 is presenting itself to be an interesting year in politics to say the very least and with a tool that makes researching and self-education easier, maybe we’ll all take the time to be more critical of what’s going on around us. Perhaps and most importantly, it could mean we’re all a little bit nicer to each other on social and accepting of others valid opinions… stranger things have happened after all.

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