The Spiral of Silence

One of my favorite mass communication theories is called The Spiral of Silence. The theory is described as the process of one opinion becoming dominant, when those who fear isolation refuse to speak up because they believe they hold a minority opinion. Fearing isolation is often the biggest motivator when people refuse to debate or offer an opinion.

The Spiral of Silence is how political parties and dogma becomes powerful. So it’s important to speak up on important issues.

There is always someone out there who will agree with you. All you have to do is speak up.

With the explosion of the internet and social media, the Spiral of Silence is no longer such a fear. In my opinion, it’s one of the best things that has come out of the internet. People can always find like-minded folks. Fear of isolation becomes less of a worry. Online you can always find someone to agree with you and you can argue without as much fear of isolation because you are usually arguing with anonymous people out in the vast wasteland.

The internet has been great for communication. Yet, there is a new isolation happening in that we can easily surround ourselves with people who only agree with us, and where does that leave us? I call this my internet bubble. This is where the spiral turns into a bubble.

In my mind I see this as becoming more of the problem rather than the spiral, we form a bubble around us and only hang out online with people who agree with us. It may seem as if more and more people are agreeing with us, but we just aren’t hearing the other side. This leads to a worse kind of isolation.

Imho, it’s important to avoid this bubble. I rarely unfriend people on Facebook simply because we have differing political opinions. But I also think using Facebook to constantly spout your raging political vents can alienate people rather than connect with them, which is really what Facebook and all forms of social media are for.

So what then? Do we stay silent?

No. Don’t stay silent. But do choose wisely about how often you speak up. On social networks, nobody likes someone who is constantly arguing/debating or using their Facebook profile as a pounding pulpit.

This way, you can avoid the spiral turning into a bubble and still have meaningful conversations with people who disagree.