Sunday, June 15, 2008

Finding Our Way

Writer Peter J. Boyer from the New Yorker:

Kieth Olbermann’s success, like Bill O’Reilly’s, is evidence of viewer cocooning—the inclination to seek out programming that reinforces one’s own firmly held political views. “People want to identify,” Phil Griffin says. “They want the shortcut. ‘Wow, that guy’s smart. I get him.’ In this crazy world of so much information, you look for places where you identify, or you see where you fit into the spectrum, because you get all this information all day long.”

"Viewer cocooning" refers to homophily, a psychological concept I am interested in. I don't know if he created the nickname, but I like it.

Consider how homophily both combats and complements learning. Finding something we like can lead us to learn about other things we like. On the other hand (I have five fingers), what are the ideas and who are the people we shut out in order to create a life experience that better matches our current world view, our present understanding? The latter reminds me of a life run on auto pilot.