Birds of a Feather…

It’s the end of Fall Quarter, but I have one final post for my Mass Communication class. This one is on the topic of Homophily, the human tendency to prefer people who are like you—people who share your interests, your religion, your ethnicity, and your economic status. It’s a single word that expresses the old saying “birds of a feather flock together.”

The interesting thing about the internet is that while it provides so much possibility for connection with people who are different from you, most internet users still cloister themselves in zones of like-minded individuals on the internet. I’ve found this is true in my life, for the most part. If I look at what I typically read on the internet, it breaks down into a few tight categories: design blogs, webcomics (mostly in the science fiction, fantasy, and superhero genres), Christian blogs/magazines, YouTube videos (mostly from channels I subscribe to) and random stuff that my friends post on Facebook. You might think that the things people post on Facebook might expose you and I to different opinions and interest than our own. There’s two problems with this. First is that people tend to befriend those who are like them, so their Facebook news feeds aren’t really that diverse. Now I tend to think that I have a slightly more diverse selection of Facebook friends, but I still fall for the second problem, which is that I only click on and read the things that sound interesting to me. There’s a lot of stuff on my Facebook news feed that I just pass by.

So now that you’re aware of homophily, I’d encourage you to make a conscious effort from time to time to seek out people and ideas that are outside your normal zone. Take a risk; you may like what you find. Or you might not, but you’ll have expanded your mind in the process.

If you want to learn more about homophily, check out the following (one podcast and 3 articles):

http://www.onthemedia.org/story/132486-brooke-clive-and-ethan-at-aspen/

http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2008/04/25/homophily-serendipity-xenophilia/

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/10/magazine/10Section2a.t-4.html?_r=2&

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/31/oliver-burkeman-column-homophily

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Micah,

    Nicely written. If we can all seek out and get out of our Homophily, then we can seek out other cultures, religions and traditions to learn from. Knowledge is a beautiful thing that not only makes us stronger but diminishes stereotypes.

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