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Claire Romaine's picture

I’ve spent most of my life at a politically and socially liberal school, but until my senior year the politics of the majority of my peers never really factored into my personal life.  It was then that I both enrolled in a political theory class with a socialist teacher and increased my presence on the internet.  Surrounded by liberal people in a left-leaning discussion-based class, I found my opinions shifting ever more to adjust to my friends’ perspectives, and I didn’t have any explanation other than ‘they just made a lot of sense’.  Sunstein, however, explains the concept beautifully.  It’s not that people lose their own free will in favor of the will of the majority, and it’s not as if a person will suddenly abandon long-held beliefs, rather the homogeneity of the group incites agreement in individuals.  The Internet and a lot of social media sites are tangible examples of this process in action.  One person might advocate for increased marriage equality, and, as the original message spreads and others take it up, so often they act as if anyone who disagrees is wrong and unworthy of inclusion in the conversation.   All other opinions fade into the background as a single opinion becomes dominant and “create[s] echo chambers” which encourage even more radical thinking along the same vein.

(just to be clear, I’m not condemning the example I used [I support marriage equality], but it illustrates my personal experience with the concept in Sunstein’s article)