Echo (Echo) Chambers Expanded
Who controls the life we want to live? Easy: we control our lives. The sooner we decide to make the right decisions that we KNOW are best for us, the more likely we are to live our ideal life. Last week I wrote a piece on “echo chambers“. By listening to society, our friends, and our family members reverberate the same belief systems back at us over and over again, we often limit our growth.
Today I want to dismantle three specific echo chambers that permeate our society and lie squarely in our weekly topical domains:
- Networking is the key to success. (Relationship Building)
- Today’s culture is so self-centered; just look at social media. (Personal Development)
- Beware of “keeping up with the Joneses” (Personal Finance)
I firmly believe that your network is your net worth. I am also a firm believer that how you go about growing your community needs to be genuine and come from a desire to help others. The old ways of networking are broken: business card swapping, people asking what you do just to see if you can help them reach their goals, etc. I have personally experienced awkward networking events that just made things feel forced and had no real cohesive value. In a Harvard Business Review piece, my good friend Derek Coburn writes, “Don’t Waste Your Time on Networking Events“. Derek describes the weaknesses of such events, and recommends instead focusing on hosting your own events, double dating, and even resurrecting old relationships.
**Action: Complete at least one of Derek’s recommended actions. Either host an event, go on a double date, and/or resurrect an old relationship.**
As I think most would agree, social media is driving society towards self-absorption. The normal response to counterbalance the world’s self-centeredness in the social media world is to detox from it: leave Facebook, stop scrolling Instagram, and quit posting memes to Twitter. It’s a solid strategy but also a missed opportunity. Rather than detoxing from the platform, what if we culled our friends/follow lists to help us better focus on our own goals, rather than having our feeds filled with echo-chambering noise? Also, developing a plan for social media use and identifying a purpose for being on each platform might help us be less mindless in our consumption.
I’ll share my personal plan for my three favorite platforms:
Facebook – I take a 70/20/10 strategy:
- 70% of the time – I log in with a producer’s mindset rather than a consumer’s mindset. Example: I have heard/read something or thought of something that I think others might benefit from or find value in and I want to inspire. OR I’m logging in to do something business related.
- 20% of the time – I log in to interact in groups that I am a part of or engage with you on Three Action Thursday’s Facebook Page.
- 10% of the time – I log in to scroll and catch up with what my friends and family are doing.
Lastly with “the book of faces”: I strictly stay away from ALL hot button issues. I do not find it productive to engage or respond on these issues, and I rarely share my personal opinions.
Twitter – I log in to mostly catch up on news and sports during high volume live events. There are a few domains that are important to me that I track via Twitter: personal finance, University of Florida Athletics (Go Gators!!!), and world news. When I log in it is typically to find out what’s going on quickly and then I log out.
Instagram – I log into this least often, but when I do it is typically for fitness or personal development content and rarely anything else. It’s a short list and I don’t consume often.
**Action: Are you a consumer of social media? Instead of detoxing, try coming up with your own personal social media plan for the various platforms you frequent.**
Should we be “keeping up with the Joneses”? I think we should use the Joneses as motivation, if anything. My definition of the “keeping up with the Joneses” echo chamber is comparing ourselves to others with respect to our financial, emotional, social, or intellectual condition and then making poor or ill-informed decisions in an attempt to match those people. Society says we should NOT compare ourselves with others. I disagree, as there is value in comparison when it is a means of motivation.
When we are tempted to try to “keep up with the Joneses” financially, it would help if we actively shift our mindset so as to focus more on our own plan. For example, sometimes I get an envious feeling regarding someone’s new/fancy/nice car or home. When I feel this way, I have trained myself to think the following: “That person has chosen to spend their money on that, and I could choose similarly. Instead, I am choosing to purchase another investment property with cash, pay down my existing mortgage, give to charity, invest in the market, etc. They are free to choose what they have, but I am playing a different game with a different set of end goals.” That usually suffices to quickly snap me out of my envy, and it pushes me to refocus on my financial goals rather than taking no action at all or making a bad financial decision based on emotions.
**Action: Revisit your financial plan for your ideal life, and the next time you feel that temptation to “keep up with the Joneses”, don’t ignore it. Instead, use it as motivation to double down on your own goals.**