I Like My Echo Chamber

We’ve heard a lot lately about how we have filtered our social media feeds to hear only what we want to hear. We have created echo chambers for ourselves and that’s bad.

I say not so fast. That depends on your echo.

My criteria is simple – is this person a jerk? Do they substitute snark and sarcasm for intelligent thought? Do they view cruelty as just another brand of humor? If their public discourse generally belittles others, then I try to have minimal contact with them.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time cultivating my Facebook feed and social media contacts. I’m long past accepting every friend request that comes my way just because we come from the same home town or spent a few hours together on a project. I’ve unfriended many folks, both Christian and atheist, conservative and liberal. I have “unfollowed” a great many more, mostly because the social cost of unfriending them is too high (as in, “You may be family, but I still don’t have to listen to your crap.”). There are several more that deserve to get the boot and probably will the next time I’m feeling feisty and motivated.

Along with many other people today, I grieve an election that didn’t go the way I would have liked. In fact, it probably went sideways for me months ago when civil discourse was replaced with anger and fear. HOWEVER, my social media feed remains largely respectful, kind, and in many ways still hopeful. Almost no one is gloating. Many people are expressing deep, raw feelings of hurt, but I mostly see people reaching out to comfort and support them. Why? Because that’s what I have created. This is the kind of echo chamber I want for myself. I like what these people have to say and surrounding myself with them makes me a better person.

My echo chamber tends to support the Gospel over Christian politics, integrity over winning, discourse over hyperbole, patriotism over nationalism, and compassion over fear and anger. If I have to give those things up in order to experience “diversity,” then no thanks.

So, here’s what I have to say to my echo chamber:

  • The most frequent command in the Bible? “Fear not.” I don’t know how this will turn out, but I know how it will end.
  • If one of my friends needs someone to do their wedding, regardless of who they want to marry, then I’m open to being asked.
  • If you need a Christian community that will accept you for who you are and yet genuinely seeks to wrestle with and understand what it means to follow Christ, then I know such a place.
  • If you need someone to go to the bathroom with you, walk with you, or generally help you feel less afraid, feel free to ask me.
  • There is a shortage of racial and religious diversity in my life. This has less to do with my echo chamber and more to do with the fact that I’m an introverted homebody.
  • I’m human, which means I’m mostly a self-absorbed screw-up. If you have the same view of yourself, then we have something in common from which a dialogue can grow, regardless of the topic.
  • I love my country, but I’m not always proud of my country.
  • I like to be relaxed and frequently irreverent, but I want to continually call myself to a higher standard of compassion and respect for others. This becomes particularly difficult at Walmart sometimes.

Through it all, I’m glad I have my echo chamber. You’re good people.
(And for those who remain asshats but I have not yet unfollowed, that day may still come.)

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