phone and media usage, echo chamber
Cover Image © Vietcetera Illustration

8 Easy Ways to Intentionally Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

The internet (especially Social Media) makes me wonder if having well-rounded perspective matters anymore or if we only value similar views now? Time will tell, but for those who DO seek points of view and experiences outside their comfort zone – there are still fairly simple ways to do so without selling out in the process.

That is right. You can still claim to be yourself and true to your own personal set of values while learning out how others, and maybe even those totally AGAINST your stance on an issue feel. Sometimes these have very light stakes (e.g. listening to different types of music) and sometimes the stakes are much higher (e.g. COVID precautionary measures), but I’ve always felt it’s worth learning how “people who don’t agree with you” feel about a subject. Call it curiosity on my part.

Anywho, let’s jump into it.

What’s the Point?

In a world where you can go online and find websites with people who feel EXACTLY how you feel, and you can align yourself with complex moral issues with a hashtag – what’s the point in trying to find common ground with people outside of your comfort zone? Why spend the energy learning about things outside of your bubble that may annoy or anger you and trigger bad energy?

My simple response to those very valid questions is, “Because we all still have to coexist together in society.”

I was inspired to bring this one back up because of a few very combative discussions that I’ve seen online lately (especially around the COVID vaccine) that make me worry that people don’t know how to interact with people outside of THEIR echo chambers (that is: “groups of like-minded [people] framing and reinforcing a shared narrative”) anymore.

I feel like we’ve gotten comfortable seeing things from one side as a society, and I think it’s going to screw us in the end. So… I present these simple methods to step outside of your comfortable space every now and then just to keep you open to the idea that other viewpoints exist and that that’s ok.

Echo chamber, an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that the existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered

Method #1: View an Unfamiliar Influencer

Probably the easiest method on the list. Use social media like most people probably normally do, and check in on a popular account/personality that represents that thing you’re curious about. You don’t have to go as to check out any extreme groups or anything, but finding their mouthpieces can be easy enough. You can see people trying trends you don’t agree with, expressing fears you don’t have, and rationalizing things that you think are idiotic pretty easily. And keep in mind – you’re not doing this to go and start an argument or to ridicule. Approach this with a spirit of “trying to learn more” (and that goes for everything else on this list, too).

Method #2: Consume Alternative News Media

If you normally only view CNN, check out FOX News. If you normally only get your news from Newspapers, try checking out Reddit. You get the point here. Different ideological factions of the United States socialize and shape their ideals around news shared in these outlets, so it’s worth understanding things here from a few angles.

Method #3: Read a Book

This one takes a little bit more effort on your part, but if you really want to become a bit more intimately familiar with certain viewpoints, it might be worth sitting down and reading a book. If you are White and super-opposed to the concept of White Privilege, it might be worth picking up a copy of White Fragility and making yourself finish the book. People on the opposite end might want to grab any book with Tucker Carlson’s name on it. I don’t know – these are just ideas, but that exposure to the opposite side might broaden your view a bit.

Echo chamber, an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that the existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered

Method #4: Listen to a Podcast

If you don’t have time to read or sit with any of the first 3 options at all, maybe hearing people talk about topics on a podcast might be more your jam. There are literally millions of podcasts out there now on tons of topics. It can’t be too hard to check into a few popular ones from “the other side” of issues you’re passionate about. Try to give yourself a few minutes of exposure to those voices outside of your echo chamber every now and then. Again, this is all in the name of research and understanding.

Method #5: Find a New Radio Station

See the above comment about podcasts — this is just the granddaddy to that that medium for those who just aren’t on the podcast train yet.

Method #6: Visit an Unfamiliar Bar

If you’d prefer to interact with people vs. reading about them, it might be worth going to a different part of your town and sitting in a bar you’ve never been to before. There will be different things on the TVs if they’re around. You will see different kinds of people. You may overhear different types of conversation (but don’t be a creeper about it). Think of this a people-watching with a purpose.

Echo chamber, an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that the existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered

Method #7: Attend a Concert

If you still didn’t get enough unfiltered jollies at the bar, spend a few bucks and go check out an upcoming local concert in a music genre that’s stereotypically not YOU. Why? Because musicians tend to talk at these things, and people tend to listen and cheer as a captive and enthralled audience. You may learn a lot about what things specific groups value through this experience (and you might walk away with a t-shirt or something – LOL).

Method #8: Make & Then Phone a Friend

Lastly, while you’re at either the bar or the concert – try to make a friend who doesn’t look like you. Chat with someone over a drink and exchange numbers or connect online (I know, human interaction can be terrifying for some people — but remember: Research). People do this all the time, and you can even let your new friend know that you want to learn more about [insert random thing of your choice here] and ask them if they’d be cool with you hitting them up from time to time if you have questions.

None of those are hard. None of those will break your bank. They are all fairly easy (with degrees of difficulty going up as you advance through the list) — but each one helps you gain a more well-rounded and informed experiential perspective vs. just staying inside of your comfort zone all day and enjoying the squishy bubbles of your echo chamber.

As you do this, you might find that a few things trigger you less. You may see that your discussions with the “other side” improve a bit. And *gasp* … You may even learn that you have a few values in common with something different than you.

Diversity. Characters on bikes, electric scooters, walking and running young adults. Urban life. Urbanism.

Scary right? 😁

Peace, and thanks for reading.

 

The soundtrack for this post provided by…

Image Credits:
– Cover Image © Vietcetera Illustration (Shutterstock)
– Body Images 1-4 © Nadia Snopek (Shutterstock)

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