Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Your Personal Cyberspace

When World War I broke out in 1914, the British War Office strangled all information coming from the front in an effort to keep up morale. If you were caught spreading intelligence that served the enemy, you faced the ultimate penalty—death.

Faced with a growing public appetite for news about the war, the British cabinet eventually relaxed its throttling grip and named five war correspondents. But reports covering the war were still heavily censored.

The British people only heard what their government wanted them to hear.

But today, the web and Google combo give us the power to direct the flow of information ourselves. No longer are we starved for news.

Or are we?

You see, data doesn’t travel the internet highways without restriction.

Consider Facebook. The social network keeps track of every link you click and every post or page you like. And without asking you, an algorithm edits out everything Facebook thinks you don’t like.

Google is no different. Because the search engine studies my digital footprint, if you and I search for the same query, we’ll probably get very different results.

There’s no such thing as a standard news aggregate. Every information collecting website is to some degree tailored to fit you.

Which means you have your very own retreat in cyberspace. Everywhere you go, you’re reminded the world works just the way you thought.

The drawback? You don’t decide what gets in. And more importantly, you don’t see what’s left out: the other point of view.

As time passes, your personalised bubble grows thicker and you can no longer see how any perspective but your own could be true.

But the world is much larger than you, the web just does a poor job of making that clear.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach