How the Internet Influences Opinions

Thomas Daniels, Sports Editor

Echo chambers fill the halls of the internet. Information is coming in at Mach speed in all directions, which creates a disorienting news cycle never seen before. Reactions to the news cycle come just as fast. From the general public to public servants, anyone can add their voice to the mass. The swell of voices from the internet can cause unintended consequences that push people into a current that pulls people away from opposing views. So because of the overwhelming amount of information on the internet, combined with the speed at which it is consumed, it is easier to sway people to a certain point of view. 

Back when newspapers reigned supreme, it took longer to publish the news, and there was more dependence on local newspapers to cover it. So people were more influenced by which newspaper they read, and people could not be as selective about their news sources because there were fewer of them. Media expanded to radio and TV, and people started to see a clearer picture of the world outside their local area, not only in the sense that they had more options to get news outside of their town, but they had video and sound that they could perceive. For example, what arguably made the civil rights movement in the 1960s accelerate was television networks broadcasting the violence from protests to families at home, causing a reaction from politicians and the public. The Internet combines previous forms of media into one and makes it available to everyone. 

Cartoon by Ariana Tackett.

Not only is it available for everyone to consume, but it is open for anyone to produce. With the internet, media does not just range from professional entities such as CNN, Fox and NBC. Media can be broken down to the individual level as well. What reignited the Black Lives Matter movement was 17-year-old Darnella Frazier recording George Floyd’s death and posting it to Facebook. People are taking advantage of always having their phones around them, a situation that former generations never experienced before. 

This comes with a caveat, though. We are free to choose sources from both sides of the aisle, but we are also free to become complacent. Overstimulation of information pressures people to be more selective, which can lead to bubbles. For example, filter bubbles are situations where people are completely isolated from opposing views, and echo chambers are continuous affirmations of specific beliefs devoid of outside criticism. Both examples limit where they get their information from and how much information they get at any time. 

People are swayed by the internet by the scope and speed of information that is produced and consumed. The Internet is a conglomerate of all previous forms of media rolled into one, and it is open to everyone to consume and produce. Since it is public, this can create an oversaturation of information, which can lead people into bubbles where they are influenced by one point of view. Too often during political discussions, people tend to think using their point of view and not take into account others’ perspectives. Individuals need to take in a wide range of opinions and break their bubble to be less influenced. People have the freedom to exercise this option; it is up to them if they are willing to take it.