Social Media Creates an Echo Chamber for Leaders
The algorithms of social media ensure you will always find more of what you have already found on the internet.
As a result, social media reflects and amplifies our existing preferences and biases. If you are captivated by professional wrestling, flower arrangements, or hip-hop, it feeds you streams of images, videos, photos, and text that encourage those passions.
If you are enthralled by experimental medical procedures, how athletes train, or gameshow trivia, the very same algorithms will feed you a steady diet of new material to satisfy your fix.
What shows up on your phone is an echo chamber of like-minded content and viewpoints. In other words, whatever you thought before gets underlined and highlighted over and over again. This makes it exceedingly difficult to engage or learn about dissenting or competing views.
Leaders are not immune to this influence.
They live in their own echo chamber of similar thoughts about business, strategy, innovation, and tactics. Whatever bias or view they have and utilize in their search for more insight actually reaffirms what they already believe.
Learning new ideas and seeing the world of leadership from a different lens is a climb, one that many leaders don’t even recognize they need to make.
That’s why podcasts, keynote speeches, books, magazines, and daily emails are so important. They encourage us to think about ideas and issues not currently on our radar. We learn of a new author or a stunning leadership insight and then find out more in a nosedive on the internet. For just a few moments, the algorithms that shape so much of what we read and see are sent to the curb.
Leaders who are addicted to the daily feed of information based upon their own clicks stand a chance of missing many good ideas and learnings. Exploration into the unknown pays big dividends — but only for leaders willing to expand their field of vision and escape the influence of social media on learning.
Looking outside for competing answers is always a healthy thing to do.
One key is to be aware of and intentional about where the algorithms can add value to you and where they don't. If you're intentionally learning a specific skill (say, baking or playing the piano), YouTube serving you up more and more videos from different sources on that topic can be incredibly valuable. The same is true if you're going deep trying to learn about a specific concept. Both of those cases could be considered instrumental. Even in those cases, there are probably diminishing returns to the algorithms at some point. But when you're you're in the realm of "news," opinion, commentary, etc. (which is most of what most people consume online), that's a different animal.
How frequently might you be curating and weeding out your own social feeds?