Beyond the Echo Chamber: Breaking Free and Thinking for Yourself

Ask Elon. Read what Elon is saying. It seems to me that’s how people get their insights nowadays. Easy. Want to know what’s hard? Forming your own point of view and thinking for yourself. It’s hard because you have to do the work.

Now check this out. The reason you want to know what Elon thinks, or any other person who thinks for themselves, is because they’ve done the work of forming their own point of view. Combine this with showmanship and you have a potent formula to generate followership, and people will mindlessly believe and follow what these people say because it’s just easier to do so.

Still, we should remember that people are humans prone to the same biases we all have. Personally, when I find myself in a group where everyone thinks alike I know it’s time to break from orbit because where all think alike nobody thinks very much.

Anyway, why is developing your own point of view important?

Imagine you have a big box of crayons. Each crayon is a different color, and each color is like a different idea or thought. Now, if you only use one crayon because your friend told you it’s the best color, all your drawings will look the same. But if you choose and mix colors yourself, you can make unique and beautiful pictures that are all your own.

Having your own point of view is like choosing your own crayon colors. It helps you think in your own unique way and not just copy what others are doing. And when you think for yourself, your ideas and thoughts are like beautiful drawings that nobody else can make. It’s important because it makes you, well, YOU!

With that said, how can you develop your own point of view?

15 tactics you can use to develop your own point of view and think for yourself

Developing your own point of view requires introspection, exposure to diverse sources of information, and cultivating a habit of critical thinking. Here are some unique tactics you can use:

  1. Information diet. Just as you’re mindful of what you eat, be mindful of what you consume mentally. Consume a variety of perspectives, from books, documentaries, articles, podcasts, and even courses on subjects that intrigue you.
  2. Socratic questioning. Named after Socrates, this tactic involves asking questions to stimulate critical thinking. Whenever you encounter a statement or belief, ask: Why do I believe this? What evidence supports this? What are the counterarguments?
  3. Seek out disagreement. Engage in conversations with people who hold opposing viewpoints. The goal isn’t to “win” the argument but to understand the foundation of their beliefs.
  4. Journaling. Make it a habit to write your thoughts down. This not only helps in organizing your thoughts but also allows you to reflect upon your changing perspectives over time.
  5. Mindfulness meditation. This helps you become aware of your immediate reactions and inherent biases. Being more present can help you respond rather than react to new information.
  6. Learn the art of debate. Join a debate club or take online courses. Debating forces you to consider multiple viewpoints and sharpens your critical thinking skills.
  7. Consume fiction. Engaging with fictional narratives can help you understand different motivations, cultures, and ways of thinking. It stimulates empathy and broadens your perspective.
  8. Travel or experience different cultures. If you can’t travel, immerse yourself in diverse communities locally. Experiencing different ways of life can drastically shift your viewpoints.
  9. Challenge yourself. Every month or so, take a belief you hold and play devil’s advocate—research arguments against your belief to understand other perspectives.
  10. Limit social media. Algorithms tend to create echo chambers by showing you content similar to what you’ve engaged with in the past. Reduce time on such platforms or actively seek diverse voices when you do use them.
  11. Read philosophy. Philosophers have questioned existence, beliefs, morality, and society for millennia. Engaging with philosophical texts can provide you with tools and frameworks for understanding complex issues.
  12. Feedback loop. Periodically, ask trusted friends or mentors about your opinions. They might offer valuable insights or perspectives that you haven’t considered.
  13. Develop empathy. Try to understand why someone believes what they do. Sometimes understanding the emotional or personal reasons behind a belief is just as important as understanding the logical ones.
  14. Avoid binary thinking. The world is rarely black and white. Appreciate nuances and complexities.
  15. Continuous learning. Stay curious. The more you know, the more tools you have to form well-rounded viewpoints.

Remember, developing a personal point of view doesn’t mean having an unchanging or rigid mindset. It means having a well-considered perspective that can adapt and grow as you gather more information and experience.