Several new tech products invite us to reach out and understand other people’s social and political point of view — without the hassle of actually talking to them. Here are our Top 4:
- FlipFeed, a Twitter plug-in created by M.I.T. researchers, provides a voyeuristic thrill: Click a button, and your regular Twitter feed is replaced by that of a random, anonymous user of a different political persuasion. (It’s perfect for seeing how the other half live-tweets a Trump news conference.)
- The iPhone app Read Across the Aisle gamifies political outreach — as you read articles from The Huffington Post or The Federalist through the app, you’ll see a meter turn red or blue based on the particular site’s ideological bent.
- BuzzFeed is testing a new feature, “Outside Your Bubble,” which pulls in opinions from across the web and gives them a neutral platform.
- Escape Your Bubble, a plug-in that seeds your Facebook feed with opposing political views, goes a step further, repackaging partisan content with an aggressively positive affect. Each story appears with a pink heart icon and a banner that says: “Happily inserted by your EscapeYourBubble Chrome Extension :)”
The real ingenuity of these solutions lies in stripping opposing ideas of their negative emotional impact. It’s not too hard to find people who disagree with you online — just create a Twitter account, state an opinion and watch the haters roll up — but the heated social media climate provides a tense, abstracted version of human connection that often leaves both sides more polarized.
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