Digital Bubbles: Living in Accordance with Personalized Seclusions and Their Effect on Critical Thinking
Since the emergence of the Global Village, the information flow changed drastically. Digital Technologies changed how people communicate, how they access information and how they share it. It gave people an unlimited exposure to information and knowledge. However, it also seemed to limit it. Recommendation algorithms are used in order to provide a customized experience that captivates users. Although they play an important role in selecting information that is considered relevant to the user, significant information/content may be omitted. Consequently, users end up closed in a bubble of limited information, which affects critical thinking skills and appears to influence and guide personal opinions. Little attention has been given to the negative effects of information bias on people’s critical thinking. Thus, it is hoped that this study will at the same time educate and bring awareness to this issue. In a survey we performed (with 117 answers) the majority of the survey sample (approximately 54,7%) revealed discomfort regarding the storage and filtering of data. Interestingly, 29,9% of the participants were found to be indifferent regarding this issue. From these results, the authors can conclude that, although most of the participants feel uncomfortable, they prefer to be passive about this, which reinforces the idea of conformity and the false sense of organization mentioned herein. An interview with an expert in the area drew attention to the fact that social pressure most often leads users to comply and rely on the group’s beliefs and attitudes, which facilitates social relationships and avoids confrontation.
KeywordsTechnology Filter bubble Critical thinking Social media Algorithms Rational behaviour News feed Information Online Customization
The authors would like to thank everyone who took their time to respond to the survey questionnaire. We would also like to gratefully acknowledge the help provided by Dr Amanda Franco, at CIDTFF (Department of Education and Psychology of the University of Aveiro, Portugal). Her sharing of knowledge regarding critical thinking has proven to be fundamental to the authors’ approach to the subject.
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