The Day I Woke Up in the Echo Chamber

8696717750_43a5323677_zI just finished reading an excellent book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I’d highly recommend it. But a curious thing happened as I was reading. I found myself saying Yes! a lot to myself. And I began to notice that all the source books and articles the author quoted, I’d already read. Hmmm.

I had a similar experience earlier in the week while reading blogs on my RSS reader. I probably skim headlines on twenty or thirty websites daily, and each little patch on my reader (I use Netvibes), feels like the “home” of a particular writer. This week I noticed that a lot of these bloggers know each other. Admire each other. Interview each other.

Somehow, I’d gone into an echo chamber of a neighborhood where all the writers of a certain kind of philosophy lived. And this happened without my being aware of it.

Gathering input is a snap when you read digitally. An author references another author? Click, I just added the feed to my reader. An author mentions a book that sounds interesting. Click. I’ve just downloaded it to my Kindle or put it on hold at the library. For me, these clicks added up, and I’d created a reading echo chamber on themes that already resonated for me.

I don’t like to operate like that—too comfortable. I want to digest writing I would not otherwise be drawn to. A thoughtful essay on Libertarianism. A pondering of the value of knitting. A book titled, “Productivity is Bull S##t.” I want to find myself saying No! sometimes when I’m reading.

Today I am leaving my echo chamber. I’m sure I’ll be back from time to time. But there’s a lot of interesting noise out there that I’d like to sift through.

[Thank you for your patience, as I veered off-subject here.]

Photo: Flickr/mack reed

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