Two figures from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum described something important about the echo chamber of social media and American politics in separate appearances on On Point this past week.
Van Jones, a progressive, and Erick Erickson, a conservative, both said that modern technology has narrowed our fields of vision and cloistered us into homogeneous communities.
“We’re all spending a lot of time building ourselves into communities that look a lot like us thanks to the Internet,” Erickson said on his appearance Oct. 17, “and we are less and less focused on the physical person that lives next door to us.”
Said Jones, on a show four days earlier: "If you’re on Twitter, on Instagram, and you follow a liberal, it'll suggest you follow five more liberals. Then 100 more liberals. And 1,000 more liberals. Then your social media feel will be wonderful, you see? It completely reaffirms. Look – everybody agrees with me, man!”
There’s something of an echo there about the echo chamber between two guys who, despite both having served as CNN commentators, would probably disagree on a lot.
The show was also something of an object lesson about tolerating opinions we disagree with: When Jones was on, some people said we were welcoming a communist. When Erickson was on, some people said we should not give a platform to someone they consider a bigot.
In an email a few days after his appearance, Erickson told On Point he hadn’t heard the Jones segment, “but I know Van from my time at CNN and think quite highly of him. He is one of my favorite people.”
The full audio is available online for the Jones episode (recorded Oct. 13 and airing Monday) and the Erickson episode (which aired Tuesday). On Jones’ show, we also had novelist Celeste Ng and musician Josh Ritter.
Erickson's new book is called "Before You Wake: Life Lessons From A Father To His Children." Jones' new book is "Beyond The Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Back Together."
This segment aired on October 17, 2017. The audio for this segment is not available.