Stepping Out of the Echo Chamber Is Crucial for Advocacy
It’s election season here in the Philippines, and two presidential candidates, both with large bases of support, are going head-to-head. In light of this, I came across a social media post reminding people to get out of their “echo chambers” and make their voices heard during this election cycle.
The author of the post suggested that people should explain their reasons for choosing a candidate to people who don’t share their views — hence, getting out of the echo chamber. The message stuck with me, although for different reasons. The first thing that came to mind was my disability advocacy.
I asked myself: Am I an effective advocate? Do I speak to the right people through the right channels? Or does my message remain trapped within my own community, failing to reach the hearts and minds of outsiders? Are my advocacy efforts trapped in the echo chamber, too?
Social media capital
For us Filipinos, social media is one of our primary ways of gathering information. The average Filipino is a savvy social networker, video viewer, and gamer, but not a big fan of reading long-form, textual content. Google, Facebook, and YouTube are the three most visited websites in the country. Also among the top 10 most-visited sites are TikTok, Instagram, and a couple of popular shopping platforms. As expected, news and information websites lag far behind.
With 89 million active social media users, the Philippines is dubbed the “social media capital of the world.” One would be hard-pressed to find a Filipino who doesn’t have a social media account. In my experience, only one of my acquaintances doesn’t have a Facebook account. Some people I know have even created multiple accounts on a social media site.
Social media is not necessarily a bad thing. Having a social media presence may increase one’s ability to thrive in a highly interconnected world. Yet there is a downside to being so highly reliant on it for information. Because the algorithms of social networking websites are tailored to each user’s preferences, what people see is limited to things they are expected to like.
This is useful for recommending entertaining content to users, but it can limit the perspectives people are exposed to. As a result, social media can turn into an echo chamber where like-minded individuals flock together to share information, comment on the same content, and express practically identical views.
Is anyone listening?
Unfortunately for people like me who use social media to advocate for their causes, this can dampen our efforts to expand our reach and increase our visibility. Like unique clicks on a webpage, a cause’s success hinges on the number of new people it reaches. It’s important that we advocates make our presence known to those who have never heard of us before. This way, our community can increase the number of supporters.
In the Philippines, hemophilia advocacy has a long way to go. Hemophilia is still not on the official list of rare diseases recognized by the national government. And although there have been attempts to discuss this issue with lawmakers, those efforts have fallen short.
More “pressing” health concerns, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have pushed talks about hemophilia further down the priority line. While this is understandable, it means that hemophilia advocates like me must double our efforts to be acknowledged by those who wield power and influence. Our current reality is that not many Filipinos even know what hemophilia is.
My weekly column gives me a platform to share my story with people around the globe. But at a local level, my fellow Filipinos might prefer to hear about it through different means. Though I’m not yet confident in my ability to create snappy and entertaining videos, I’m considering tackling the steep learning curve. Perhaps in doing so, I might reach more people who have never heard about hemophilia before.
How do you connect with others outside your bubble? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.