Is There An Echo (Echo, Echo) In Here?

There have been some important questions raised lately. Mostly, are we blogging into an echo chamber?

What IS the echo-chamber effect, anyway? It “refers to any situation in which information, ideas or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission inside an ‘enclosed’ space.” See here for more.

One example of the echo-chamber effect would be the group of people who get all of their information from conservative outlets like Fox News, The Drudge Report and The Wall Street Journal. Not that I know anyone like that. (Ahem. I totally do.) Those outlets repeat each other’s news over and over until you definitely believe that President Obama was born in Africa.

The same of course could be said about the group who only reads The Huffington Post, The New York Times and watches MSNBC.

In the days of our Founding Fathers, the media was split like this, too, with pro-Jefferson and pro-Hamilton papers. The idea of objectivity (no bias) in media was an idea mostly fostered in the 20th Century (and there are many who would tell you that the idea of media objectivity is laughable in any case), and it appears that an objective form of media is completely “outre” today.

But there’s also a blogging construct to the echo-chamber effect: if a group of like-minded people all gather together virtually and write about the same topic and comment on each other’s blogs, perhaps this blogging community is in a “bubble” where we think and hear the same things over and over and over until these ideas and emotions seep into our thinking patterns, perhaps effecting us negatively. Here’s an interesting article on the subject. The author posits:

When opinions become entrenched and polarizing, we circle the wagons in our little camps and tell the same old stories that we always have. Scary thought, eh?

In the ALI community, I would argue that perhaps the dangerous area is getting too entrenched in the tragedies that occur unfortunately often. This post, by Trinity, is one I think of often. Trinity was a social worker for many years. She said:

“Know yourself, understand and honor your limitations. There is no gold star for emotional martyrdom here (or anywhere). Create some boundaries for yourself. For a long while I couldn’t read portions of LFCA. When I was pregnant I simply couldn’t read BLM (Baby Loss Mama) blogs. It didn’t mean that I didn’t care about these women, or that I was being insensitive to their experiences, or that I wasn’t honoring their babies. What it meant, most plainly, was that I was taking care of myself.

If you are here, if you sit around this ALI table, you’ve already been through some shit. Honor that. And honoring that sometimes means erecting a boundary and safeguarding the delicate places in your heart. This okay. This is necessary. Know this.”

I think these guidelines are pretty crucial.

However, I do NOT think that the ALI community is a place where every single post I make is met with just a bunch of “I feel you” and “You have every right to feel this way” comments.

Want proof? Here are some of my favorite comments, ever, calling me on crap I’ve said. None of these comments sound like an echo to me:

I may have said this before, but it fascinates me how much time you spend worrying about how you compare to the rich and famous. I guess just because I don’t worry about that at all.

Unglamorous Mommy

So I respect this discussion and your perspective, but I think it may be helpful to realize that you can’t always judge someone on what they did not write, because you have no idea what else they might be thinking about.

From Kate at This House is Now a Home

So, to go off on a kind of tangent here, what IS it with us ALI bloggers and categorizing? I think you’re making a lot of good points, but the more the discussion fleshes out, the more it starts to feel like the “levels” of infertility and loss that people try so hard not to publicly establish (even though we all know we’re thinking them).You know what I mean. The infertility vs loss categories. The infertile vs more infertile-est categories. The loss vs more lossiest categories.

The Port of Indecision

These comments are very respectful, I need to point out. The ALI community is an intellectually rigorous place and sometimes, as we all know, there can be serious, intense debate that leads to emotional fallout. I’ll leave it at that. It’s not a place where I feel I can post any old thing up and hear, “You go, girl!” At. All.

Of course, when I need support, I always know I’ll find it here.

What do you think? Do we challenge each other enough? Or do we need to challenge each other at all?



Filed under Blogging

12 responses to “Is There An Echo (Echo, Echo) In Here?

  1. I think it depends on what we’re writing about. I do think that people who simply post about their feelings (where most of us, I think, are careful to tread lightly) may be living in more of an echo chamber than people who post about issues that invite perspective. If you’re looking only for support in this community, I think you’ll get it. But if you’re looking for dialogue, I think you definitely get that, too.

    We’re all different. We’ve established that this is a diaspora. Our emotional needs are as varied as we are, as are our reasons for blogging. So for me, the answer to this question is complicated. What I do know is that this community protects people without sheltering them. Yes, hearing so many similar stories can amplify fear, or anxiety. But we also need to know enough about ourselves to step away from the speaker if it becomes too loud.

    Thoughtful post.

  2. Esperanza

    Yes! This!

    “What I do know is that this community protects people without sheltering them.”

    That is exactly what it’s about. We do protect people, we give them what they need, but we also challenge them to think differently when we feel that is needed. We ensure people that they are not alone, that they are understood, we show empathy. We also share stories of hope. This community props people up when they need the support but it doesn’t enable them to be self-destructive.

    I have been challenged many times when I needed that. I’ve written posts that were almost universally disagreed with. Always this community has gently shown me another way of thinking, and allowed me to decide if that worked for me. I have almost always been treated with respect and for that I’m incredibly thankful.

  3. Aren’t we supposed to echo? Isn’t that what we see every day online, between Facebook likes and Twitter retweets and Pinterest and every other website asking us to share?

    I think challenge is necessary, and while it would be nice if it were requested when desired, that’s not always possible. I know for me, even if commenters don’t challenge my thinking, I can still read others’ posts and be exposed to other points of view.

    Love this post. You go, girl!

  4. There have been times when I wanted to write a different comment, but it really does depend on the person. If I get overly wordy justifications for what they wrote in the first place, I know they probably won’t appreciate another point of view. I would prefer to encourage and support when appropriate and not comment just to chime in. I won’t support dysfunction. I also appreciate another point of view when I feel that person truly understands what I’m talking about.

  5. I really like what Deathstar says. I try to get a sense from the post about what the person is really asking for — input, validation, advice, or simple abidance (new word!) — and then give it to them — without supportying dysfunction (always a tough call).

    And the quote Esperanza pulled from your post — yes, that.

  6. Very interesting post! I agree that overall our community, at least the blogs I read and the members I interact with, are supportive of each other and also give reality checks when appropriate. I agree with deathstar and Lori that I will only give certain kinds of feedback if I get the sense that the person is open to it and likewise, though it hasn’t happened often over the years, I have been grateful when friends/readers have thoughtfully and respectfully suggested different POV for me to consider.

    All this said, especially when it comes to baby-loss blogging, I feel like at times the echo-chamber can be a factor. As much as I was grieving hard after we lost our baby girl Molly, I never felt like I completely fit in with a lot of other baby-loss bloggers. I tried really hard for my own sanity to see as many sliver linings and bright sides to what we went through and thus my writing never got very dark. So when I would go and read blogs that were very focused on grief and all that entails, it would sometimes bring me down more, as opposed to validating my feelings.

    Reading some of those blogs though also helped me to feel more normal and on the spectrum of how people handle grief, like I was doing okay. Of course I am so sorry that these other bloggers lost children, but I think we all handle things and process differently and I just never totally connected to some in our community the way others I know or am aware of did. This may also have to do with how quickly (8 months later) we conceived Abby (our rainbow baby), at which point my focus shifted more from babyloss to SPAL. I know this was sort of a tangent, but it came to mind when thinking about your post today.

    Thank you for being so in touch with what is going on in our ALI Community of bloggers and not being afraid to ask tough questions here. I read this post on my phone last night, again this morning and just now finally had the time to really process it and comment. Thanks for making me think that much. 🙂

  7. Thanks for bringing this up. I think the others are really right about it depending on the blogger. Particularly, I think those with comment moderation often are less likely to want anything critical. And I guess we just recognize that, and we have a different kind of relationship with those bloggers. I mentioned in my last post that one time, I disagreed politely with a blogger, and she did not let my comment through moderation. It was hurtful, even though it was within her rights (I ultimately stopped reading her blog). But personally, I would hope that people would tell me if they disagree with me.

    It’s different when someone is going through something really controversial and getting abusive comments. That’s not okay, of course. I *have* written comments to the effect of “I probably wouldn’t make that decision, but I understand you need to do what’s right for you”. In those times, though, I try extra-hard to show that I still support and care about those people.

  8. It’s funny that you posted this, because I just went out on a limb the other day and posted a comment that I knew would not be super-loved, but I felt that something needed to be said. I’ve done that a few times, and one time, it sparked a serious debate (and then whole posts written by people who disagreed with me) on someone else’s blog and to this day – I’m proud of that. I am not a “go with the crowd” kind of gal if someone is being unnecessarily self-destructive. I ensure that my comments are compassionate and understanding in tone while getting my point or concern across to the person. So far, this has worked out for me.

    I would rather someone truly challenge me if they disagreed with something I wrote, versus just saying, “yeah, I hear you.” I actually wrote a post a couple weeks ago that I was anxious to get feedback on – but there was silence. I think people disagreed and didn’t want to say it. I wish they had.

    So no – I definitely don’t feel that there is an echo – at least not with most of the blogs I read.

    Great post! I find this sort of thing very fascinating!

  9. What Deathstar said – yes, exactly. It really depends on the blogger and where that person is, emotionally, that day. And always, always, if I disagree, I always make sure that the person knows it’s MY perspective and I’m not at all judging them for the way they feel. It’s so important in this community to be ACCEPTING, even if we disagree.

    In my posts, too, the comments I love the most are the ones where people get me to think about something a different way, who aren’t afraid to sho me, “hey, what about this perspective instead?”

    I’ve been fortunate in the 6 years I’ve been blogging that I haven’t really ever felt judged. But I can’t tell you the myriad times someone’s perspective has helped me change the way I view things. So no, I don’t believe there is an echo, either.


  10. One of the best meta-blogging posts I’ve read in a long time.

  11. Brid

    Hi… just dropped over from Mel’s and I love this post. I think I see the echo as being more internal. In terms of the ALI theme, my sisters (who have never had any problems with babies) have, for some time now, been urging me to stop reading the blogs I read. Until I read this post, I don’t think I could understand why; it pissed me off because I thought that reading stories similar or somewhat similar to mine, was helping me through, and because they had no idea about the dynamic of what I was experiencing, they had no right to comment on my methods. I felt I was learning new things, finding new options, as well as beginning to feel a little less lost. Nobody reads my blog (not on purpose anyhow…there are a few hits here and there on the stats, but no comments) and I am cool with that… I post rarely, don’t add my blog name to comments, and I don’t think I need comments coming in to me. I seldom comment, but read a lot of ALI blogs. To get to my point, I think the echo can be my head. If I am reading a lot of topic-specific blogs, it’s easy to fall into an overly-focused state, and that’s not always healthy (and is easier for someone outside of the situation to see, even if I would never admit that to my sisters!).
    Just like you said, it’s the media that determines the value of a story; if a there’s a keener reporter who can find ten different angles on the same minor story, and the editor publishes them, then the readership is going to assume a higher value on the story due to how much ink is devoted to it…does that make sense? Maybe the story really only deserves one article. So for me, as someone both inside and outside the community, the echo is personal, and, depending on my circumstances (and I suppose what is happening with those whose blogs I read), that can leave me in completely different states of benefit. The more I read, the more I can feel normal, or sometimes, the more I read, the more sad and desperate I can be. Immersion can work both ways.
    Also, in terms of the ‘you go, girl’ comments… I think they are sort of white noise… They can fill in some gaps, maybe, but they don’t really contribute to a valuable dialogue (just me). Thanks for the post and the brain munchies.

  12. Pingback: NaBloPoMo: The Ripple Effect

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