Indy Style

How To Get Out Of The “Echo Chamber” of Social Media

How To Get Out Of The ‘Echo Chamber’ of Social Media


There is no shortage of opinions and “facts” flying around on social media. What you consume, and how often you consume it, can have a big impact on how you view the world, and yourself. It’s important to be aware of what and how much of the same opinion you are being exposed to if you have any hope of being objective and forming your opinions in a mindful way.

Lisa Mitchell, Communications Expert & Founder of Power Body Language, shares how we can get out of the “echo chamber” of social media:

1) Be aware of your own confirmation bias
Confirmation bias is the idea that once you have an opinion or position on a topic, you are actively seeking out and attaching to things that support your opinion or position. Basically, if it supports what you already think, you accept it as correct and valid. By only looking for and accepting that which supports your point of view, you are limiting the opportunity to thoughtfully consider the other or different view of the subject. If everything you see aligns perfectly with your own opinion and point of view, it’s time to start looking for objective material.

2) Understand that the more you search for or engage with a topic or point of view on social media, the more if that gets fed to you (thanks algorithms!)
In the attempt to fill your feed with more of what platforms think you like so you spend more time using them, they are always collecting information on what you look at, search for, and engage with and pushing more and similar content to you. This can be convenient if you’re researching mattress options or comparing new car models, but when it comes to opinions, political, or other more contentious topics, it doesn’t take long to get tunnel vision via your social feeds.
You have to be very intentional about seeking objective and counter-opinion sources and information if you hope to get a balance of information to become the norm on your social platforms.

3) Intentionally Consume Material From A Diverse Collection of People and Sources
Knowing that the things that just show up in your social feed and online are targeting you and most likely are placed in support of your existing opinions, searches, and engagement, it’s important to make a practice of seeking out diverse sources of information and interacting a cross-section of the population with diverse opinions and experiences. Listen to podcasts hosted by people with different opinions or ideals, read books by authors that have very different backgrounds than you do, watch a news channel that has the slant of the opposite political party than the one you normally align with. Keep an open mind as you consume different media and points of view and allow yourself to you thoughtfully consider views that are different than your own.

Visit www.powerbodylanguage.com or connect on Instagram at @lisamitchellindy.

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Hamilton County’s ‘Wellness Unit’ part of nationwide effort to improve mental health among officers

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — An initiative to improve employee well-being at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is among a spate of efforts across the nation to address mental health concerns among officers.

Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush announced the department’s new “Wellness Unit”  — devoted to the physical, mental and spiritual health of its deputies, correctional officers and civilian employees — Friday in a Facebook post.

“Our guys really care about the public,” he said Monday in an interview with News 8. “When you see somebody who’s injured or victimized, it really impacts us… We’re only human.”

The Wellness Unit launched in January with funding approved by county council members and commissioners.

Appointments are held off-site at undisclosed locations to protect the privacy of employees. Supervisors are not briefed on which employees seek counseling or what they discuss during sessions.

Information gathered during counseling sessions will not be used to demote or discipline employees, and will only be disclosed if required by law, including when somebody poses an immediate danger to themselves or others.

The department’s entire staff will receive training related to suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, critical incidents, addiction, mindfulness and officer wellness, the sheriff said.

Nearly 1 in 4 police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their life, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI); the suicide rate for police officers is four times higher than the rate for firefighters.

Years of daily exposure to stress, trauma and tragedy can have other devastating consequences if appropriate coping skills are not developed, according to Susan Sherer-Vincent, a licensed clinical social worker, certified alcoholism counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist involved in launching the Wellness Unit.

“Think of the hurricanes that come in, in Florida, and think of the palm trees where they bend,” she explained. “But then, what happens afterwards? They go back up. That’s called resilience. We want our officers to bend, not break.”

Until approximately 3 to 5 years ago, officers were often conditioned to “pull [themselves] up by the bootstraps and go to the next call” instead of addressing personal struggles, Sherer-Vincent said.

Cultivating resiliency can be difficult within a law enforcement culture that equates mental health challenges with “weakness,” she said.

“[Officers] are trained to have the warrior mentality,” Sherer-Vincent told News 8. “Truly, they would have been made fun of [in the past for seeking counseling].”

She compared strong, silent officers with underdeveloped coping skills to California’s famed redwood trees.

“They’re pretty sturdy. But what would happen if you took an ax and hit those every single day, day after day, for years? They would eventually fall,” she said.

Quakenbush credits his wife, church and non-law enforcement friends with providing “a really good support system.”

“But sometimes, you need a professional,” he said, urging employees to “talk through” negative emotions instead of turning to alcohol and other substances for temporary relief.

Several internal cases that resulted in disciplinary action during his year-long tenure as sheriff may have been prevented with wellness-focused intervention, Quakenbush said.

He was unable to comment on personnel matters. 

Sources within the department indicated some of the cases involved employees with substance abuse issues that had escalated over time, possibly as a result of work-related stress that had gone unaddressed. 

“I wouldn’t say that [disciplinary action] was happening often,” Quakenbush told News 8. “But seeing it happen and knowing that we probably could have done something about it made it impactful and something that we wanted to make a priority.”

Hamilton County announced its Wellness Unit days after New York City police officials revealed plans to hire a team of psychologists to combat a spike in officer suicides.

On Feb. 13, Indianapolis police officials said they planned to swear in the department’s first full-time therapy dog by the end of March.

  • FIND SUPPORT: Learn more about supporting law enforcement wellness on NAMI.org

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