Much has been made of the existence of “filter bubbles,” the information feedback loop in which our preferences and viewpoints are continually amplified. This can happen in the analog world—how many of us would go out of our way to actually spend time with people whose worldviews are radically different from ours?—but is perhaps most often referenced as an artifact of our digital lives. Therein, through sophisticated recommendation algorithms, we are generally, if not always shown the materials we are most likely to like, and at worst, least likely to hate, so as to either instantaneously initiate or at least sustain the possibility of future click-throughs and extended visits to a website.
It has been suggested that filter bubbles were at least partially responsible for the election of Donald Trump, engendering an environment of optimism and overconfidence in the Democratic faithful when in fact the sky was falling around them. Moreover, life in the Democratic filter bubble was presumably not only feeding happy election news to the constituents, it was also possibly keeping out the news about the large cohort of disaffected Democrats who either were not energized enough to get to the polls, or angry enough to ultimately either switch parties, not vote, or come out for the first time in a long time for a populist and hatemongering candidate. In short, after the election, the words you would hear echoing around the filter bubble were: “who knew?”