Let's be honest, arguing with people is hard. It's really hard. Unless you're just kind of a jerk, it can be difficult to take a dissonant stance on something even if it's a topic you feel very strongly about. Trying to keep strong in the face of opposition can be really mentally and emotionally taxing, especially given the fact that people tend to be pretty stubborn about their opinions and chances are you're not going to change anybody's mind no matter how hard you try.
That being the case, it can be tempting to isolate in a place where the only opinions you hear are ones that reflect your own. It's validating, and nothing feels better than being told your opinion is unequivocally the right one.
Except is it? Isolating yourself from other people's opinions doesn't make those opinions go away, but it can blind you to those opinions so that when you're forced to confront them for whatever reason you're taken supremely off guard. And there's a lot to be said also for the fact that even if you are probably not going to change anybody's opinions, you might be able to if you try. Or, if exposed to someone else's take on things, you might find that you gain a new perspective and it's your opinion that changes.
With social media being as prevalent as it is and people able to filter their media diet, it's pretty easy only to hear the voices you want to hear. But what sort of impact does that have on our ability to relate to other people's opinions, compromise, and broaden our horizons? Discuss~
I feel like there's something to be said about safe spaces too--where, say, the nature or validity of your existence isn't questioned, and where you can be with people who are like-minded and who can support each other. Probably not the best place to spend your entire life in, but definitely important, and I feel like a number of people consider any place with mutual support and a required lack of dissent to be unproductive, when it's in fact very helpful within reason.
Aside from that, it's also very frustrating to be someone who has changed opinions on some issue and therefore knows "both sides" pretty well, and already understands what is right or wrong with what they're saying. And it's pretty impossible to have a talk with someone who is only willing to look at one stance without even addressing the other(s). So while I am still bombarded day after day with news that, guess what, people think I'm crazy and degenerate, said people can hurl around insults without any evidence or willingness to learn, and no skin comes off their back. For people who are at least willing to have a respectful dialogue and address everyone's concerns, I don't think that counts as part of the "media diet" or breaking an echo chamber anyways, because it's a case-by-case basis, and again it depends on whether someone can physically handle the emotional labor of giving yet another explanation to justify their existence.
I guess what I'm trying to say by all this is that filtering your media diet is a very valid strategy if you're well aware of what you're hearing from some areas, especially if it's only ever hate (or thinly veiled prejudice, at best), and some things really aren't worth compromising over, but when people make an attempt to learn it's useful to discuss on an individual basis, rather than on widespread/public social media.
Oh I wasn't implying one should avoid places where they are agreed with and feel validated all the time. Everyone needs a break from time to time. I only suggest that by isolating away from other people and other opinions, we only serve to drive a deeper wedge between us and the "opposition" that deepens the rift between the sides.
While yes, it is painful to be judged for something that is integrally part of you that you can't and shouldn't have to change, the world's judgement isn't going to go away by hiding from it, and without confronting that we only set ourselves up to stagnate at the current status quo, at the best. Change comes about by facing the opposition not adversarially but peacefully and by proving that in spite of what people think, your words and ideas do have worth. And standing up to that much hatred is hard, not everyone can do it. There's a reason people like say, Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony are hailed as historical heroes. (I use American examples because they are most familiar to me, feel free to sub in your favorite activist peoples from your own country.)
That said, it really should be clarified that this topic is not necessarily exclusively about civil rights activism. Those issues are absolutely important and bear examining. Yes, it's painful to be judged for your identity and I'd certainly not advocate putting yourself in harm's way if you aren't up for it and the matter is too personal for you to debate it with a clear head and emotional distance. But people tend to isolate from other people's opinions on much less dear-to-their-heart issues too. For example, my mom refuses to discuss anything potentially political with anybody because her opinions lean towards centrism, and in the current climate if you are not whole hog one side or the other you tend to take flak on both ends and that's exhausting. But at the same time, could not one argue that a neutral viewpoint or compromise between two extremes in some cases be a good thing to bring to the table? Again, let me be clear that this is not necessarily about personal identity. Could be something like "GM wants to replace their entire fleet with electric cars and our economy is not ready for change that extreme." There are a lot of topics people shy away from talking about with people who don't agree with them just because they want to avoid conflict, but without discussing those opinions it's impossible to reconcile the two sides of the debate. And while a compromise isn't necessarily going to leave anybody happy, everyone a little grumbly is at least a step up from "one side so angry that they will work tirelessly to undo everything held dear to the other side."
There was a study I saw a few months ago that claimed that those who keep up with political news tend to have both more extremist views and assume the other side is more extreme than it really is. Those who aren't as informed tend to have more accurate views of the other side's thinking, and be more accepting of political opinion different from their own. I can't recall if it was that study or another, but one of them also found that those who immerse themselves in the other view's media aren't really having their minds changed or influenced by what they see. It becomes almost more like cherry-picking to reinforce their own side--which is a psychological phenomenon with more application than just politics. By which I mean, people tend to only pay attention to things that already agree with them on a subconscious level, and ignore or avoid things that don't. And I'm not sure, given it's partly biological, based on how the brain does its shortcuts and chemical signals, how much we can change that?
I think, though, the actual problem is that the media is just plain extremist in how it's put together, rather than whose side is being represented or paid attention to. Scandal and shock sells; news about "and they found a compromise and everyone went home happy" doesn't. So the echo-chamber is not one about this side vs. that side, but instead of more and more shocking things--and we are lead to believe the other side and the world's population in general must be really horrible people to have all these bad things going on...when reality, that might be a 1 in 1,000,000 chance happening.
Oh, also, how the media tends to be in soundbites, snapshots of videos and things. That was another thought-provoking article for me that went into how these days, our currency is attention, because we are so busy, and so a best-selling product must be flashy enough to capture that attention, nevermind if it's actually of good quality. More than half of being a good business owner is marketing, not the product itself, and the same is true for the "product" being sold on media, which is "truth". Even away from that, the truth is often very complicated with nuances, that you just won't see in a short video or article.
I've found the best non-echo chamber is not the news, but ordinary people down on the ground. Talk to LGBT people if you want to know their life, talk to rich white people and spend time with them if you want to know theirs, etc. Read biographies (check to make sure they've been verified as accurate of course--some of the books on politicians in particular serve more as advertisement for them or the person who wants to discredit them than a genuine view into their lives). It's a very different picture than what you might hear from media. These people have problems and flaws and qualities and triumphs that never make it onto the web, because it doesn't sell. And you can see the whole picture, with all its context, good or bad.
I think Aizar makes some good points about people who keep up with the news often seem to possibly be more extremist, but I think part of that is that these same people tend to watch a lot of the same news channels/sources. And it's definitely hard for someone who's used to viewing the world one way (especially if they've been doing so for a long time) to try to engage and think about it in a completely opposing manner.
I also think a lot of it is just shortcomings in our education system. "Question everything" and "look at the evidence" and "look at it from multiple angles", etc. Basically everything related to critically assessing something. Being shortsighted is a deep flaw for both sides of the spectrum. If I asked a kid why they think we started the American Revolution, I would like for the response to be their own opinions (right or wrong) on what happened with Great Britain, what was the straw that broke the camel's back, etc., and not just "well, that's what the textbook says". And I wish the school system would encourage the gray areas more; instead, a lot of schoolwork is taught as if it's all black and white (although in the case of math and science, I would say there's definitely less gray in those subjects. In science, though, it is still very hard to prove something as being true, and previous theories get overturned all the time; that's why we have such an extensive scientific rigor in place). Critical thinking is definitely lacking nowadays, and everyone's view of the world is too binary. Humans are gray, and thus I would not expect for anything going on in our world to be entirely black and white.
I think ideally people would be able to come to a logical conclusion regardless of the media's bias. Even in a biased article, you can still extract the plausible truths, as long as you know how to. But even if one couldn't master this, at least be open-minded to new ideas. I think if someone asks you, "why can't this be different?" and your answer is, "that's how it has always been", that's a warning bell for you to research more on the subject!