echo-chamber

Resist the Pull of the Echo Chamber in Retirement

This is not a political post, but it’s impossible to ignore that a kind of big thing happened yesterday. But, to avoid letting that color my writing, I wrote this post Tuesday morning, before hearing a peep about results or exit polls or any of it. So you now know more about the outcome than I do as I write.

But regardless of the outcome, certainly some people are feeling relieved today, and others are feeling disappointed/sad/angry/terrified/[insert more feelings here]. (Unless the election wasn’t called last night, in which case, can we all just move underground until it’s settled?)

And we may feel the urge to take actions that go along with those feelings: Like posts on Facebook or other social that confirm our feelings. Unfollow people who rant about or celebrate a position counter to our own. Click on news headlines that speak to us, ignore the ones that don’t.

The online landscape has made it easier than ever to self-select our news and information, and while I won’t get into why that’s clearly contributing to the divided feeling in our society (though that’s a hugely important issue, and one I hope we’re all giving a lot of thought), let’s talk about it in retirement terms. Today: why it’s so important to resist the pull of the echo chamber in retirement.

OurNextLife.com // Resist the Pull of the Echo Chamber in Retirement // Avoid social isolation, keep exposing yourself to diverse thoughts

We all know someone who gets most of their news from one source, it’s obvious where they’ll stand on an issue, you know you’re going to get an earful from them, and you kind of shake your head and roll your eyes while they talk. “Okay, sure, whatever you say…”

It’s easy to dismiss those people as a little unhinged, but what they really are is just isolated within their own bubble or echo chamber, where their views get reaffirmed (whatever they are!) and ideas that challenge their thinking get swept aside. And worse, they don’t realize it.

It’s now easier to narrow our stream of information than it is to broaden it, to exclude information that we don’t want to see or think about, and to feed ourselves only on information that confirms our own innate biases. Most of us already do this, without realizing the detrimental effect it has on us, and without realizing that we’re building our own echo chambers.

Retirement only magnifies that effect.

But if we let ourselves get in that bubble – something that can happen awfully quickly — then we become that kooky person that people roll their eyes at. And that’s not just something that we don’t want to imagine for ourselves, it’s also terrible for us psychologically.

The Isolating Effects of Retirement

Say all you want about the downsides of work, at least work forces us to socialize with different people than we might choose to talk to. It gets us out of the house where we’re exposed to different things. It is a conduit to staying at least reasonably connected to a broad swath of popular opinion, especially opinions that aren’t our own.

In the past, some of that function could be served by the general media, in that virtually everyone got their information from the nightly news anchors, who tended to be pretty middle-of-the-road. While it’s undoubtedly a positive for all of us that more voices are involved in generating and sharing ideas now (ahem, bloggers!), it also means that it’s easier than ever before to lose sight of whole swaths of opinion and ideas out there, and to go far down a rabbit hole of insulated thinking without even realizing it.

As we get older, certain parts of our brains shrink, especially the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. That makes tasks like learning new things and reframing our beliefs increasingly difficult. And this is true even in the healthiest brains. So if we get into that rabbit hole/echo chamber/bubble mindset and realize it later, it may be too late to reset our thinking.

So consider what retirement could easily turn into for many of us, if we don’t make a conscious effort to avoid it:

More social isolation because of lack of workplace interaction

News from fewer sources, reaffirming our own biases

Following social media sources we agree with, tuning out those we don’t

A brain that’s getting less and less flexible

Finding it easier to see how any of us could turn into that crazy eye roll-inducing person?

The Benefits of Staying Connected

Isolation is bad. We all know this innately. It’s why we regularly talk about how we will focus on making new friendships in retirement. But here are some additional stats to back this up, and that show that we can be isolated without even realizing it:

Lonely people have less activity in their ventral striatum in the brain, which hampers their ability to learn new information. They also have less activity in their temporoparietal junction, which is associated with empathy. (1)

Socially isolated people have higher blood pressure, are more vulnerable to infection and are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Loneliness also gets in the way of sleep, attention and logical reasoning. (2)

Social isolation increases a person’s likelihood of death by 26 percent from all causes, even when people don’t consider themselves lonely. (Social isolation and living alone were found to be even more devastating to a person’s health than feeling lonely.) (3)

If these seem like extreme effects that don’t apply to “normal” people, reread the list in the previous section. It’s an extremely slippery slope from unfollows and news source selection to social isolation, especially if we get to a place where people are rolling their eyes at us. Because who seeks out the company of someone you don’t find remotely credible? Or even if that person is family or has some other tie that compels you to spend time with them, the person who’s having the eyes rolled at them is still bound to feel invalidated for their views, which is detrimental to self-worth and self-esteem.

What You Can Do to Stay Out of the Bubble

If all of this seems a bit doom-and-gloomy, the good news is that it’s entirely possible to stay out of the bubble, though it does take some effort these days. Sometimes it will mean letting your annoying uncle on the opposite end of the political spectrum stay in your Facebook feed. It may mean watching some news that makes you want to pull your hair out. But it’s worth it – both for you personally, and for this society of ours. Here’s what you can do:

Vary your news sources – Far too many news sources these days are aligned with one “side” or the other, and they make no secret about it. If you primarily get your news from one of them, make a point to read or watch a credible source on the other side regularly, and instead of arguing with everything they say in a knee-jerk way, try to put yourself in the other side’s shoes and think it through. The goal isn’t to change your mind (though maybe you will broaden your perspective), it’s to maintain empathy and to avoid going to a more extreme mindset.

Click links that challenge you – Back when most of us got our information through the nightly news, we had no choice in what news to learn about. It just came at us, and that was that. Now, we have an endless number of links to click on, and research shows that we tend to click the ones that confirm something we already believe. Make a point of choosing news that challenges your world view on a regular basis, and just like with the news sources above, make a real effort to hear the writer out.

Don’t unfollow/unfriend without thinking – I have been as guilty of this as anyone, and have unfollowed or muted almost everyone who has ever ranted about something I disagree with in my Facebook feed. But that ultimately narrows my world, confirms my biases and limits my exposure to challenging ideas that could make me smarter and more mentally nimble. So while we don’t have to engage in pointless debates on social media, it’s not the worst idea to keep exposing yourself to other people’s ideas, and maybe even asking questions from time to time.

Engage with different people – Social interaction is important for your health, and something you should prioritize in retirement, but while you’re at it, you may as well make a point to engage with people different from you. Please from different socioeconomic backgrounds, with different beliefs, with different ways of seeing the world.

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What do you think?

Do you think echo chambers are as big a problem as I do? What other ways could we all prevent ourselves from unknowingly falling into one? How else can we stave off social isolation in early retirement? Let’s chat about it all in the comments!

71 thoughts on “Resist the Pull of the Echo Chamber in Retirement

  1. Great perspective in this post. I think sometimes you can get into an “echo chamber” in your financial decisions too – only reading advice that you agree with and automatically dismissing differing opinions. When I’m doing research on some financial decision or goal, I like to seek out differing opinions and do some critical analysis. Reading (or listening to) conflicting opinions helps me to examine my decisions more objectively and can sometimes cause me to change an aspect of my choice.

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    1. Thanks, CMO. :-) I agree with you — the echo chamber tendency cuts across all parts of our lives! We seek out all information that confirms our beliefs and tune out anything that challenges us — and on some level, I’m sure that makes sense, because we don’t have time or mental capacity to try to take in all information on all subjects. But the stakes are too great to let the echo chamber phenomenon become a habit!

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  2. I traditionally have tried to put myself in uncomfortable situations where I am the least smart/least skilled person to force myself to grow and learn. As for early retirement, I hope to seek out more of those type of experiences. In fact this is the part of finding some early retirement work that I find appealing as apposed to going to a job which has become very repetitive and boring, but I have found myself addicted to because of generous pay and great benefits, which I will have a hard time finding elsewhere.

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    1. That’s a great personal quality, EE. I admire that you’ve made such a habit of challenging yourself at work, and admire you even more if that habit extends to challenging your politics and ideology by engaging with people whose perspectives differ from yours. That’s extremely hard to do!

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      1. I personally don’t find it very hard b/c I am very disengaged from the whole political process. I am very interested in financial freedom as a subclass of personal freedom. I don’t buy what either party is selling with regards to advancing personal freedoms. The only politician that I have ever really found engaging in my lifetime was Libertarian Ron Paul when running, but never taken seriously, as a republican. If you want to really get way out of conventional echo chambers, Google his interview with James Altucher done this past summer as Trump and Clinton were wrapping up their party’s nominations. He has some interesting insights to both. Another great resource to make sense of everything is Tony Robbins podcast entitled “why we do what we do”. In it he breaks down the 6 human needs we all have. Once that is understood, it is pretty easy to see that people on both sides who seem so polar opposite really all are seeking the same things. Unfortunately, we have a system in which both sides play on common fears and emotions and use that to divide for their own gain, rather than seeking common ground which we all share.

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        1. I think there’s a lot of truth to that, though there’s also tremendous danger (as we’re about to see in our daily lives) that comes from thinking the parties are all the same.

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  3. Yup – the older we get, the more hard-headed most of us become. It’s a natural phenomenon to focus more and more on the news that we like to hear, as well as research that we happen to agree with. The echo chamber is alive and well, for sure.

    In a previous life, I was exceptionally guilty of this – especially politically. But today, through reading viewpoints that differed from my own and taking a much more objective look at the political landscape, I am now a very different voter. Keeping a more open mind and entertaining the possibility that maybe – just maybe – we aren’t *right* about absolutely everything that we believe made a huge difference in my life. I remember this in virtually all areas of my life now; I try my best to consider all sides. Then, I make the best decision I can and move forward.

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  4. The personal finance world is an echo chamber. And I think that blogging is even more so. Of course, we can connect with readers and writers who have different perspectives. But ultimately, we read and write what speaks to us. And it’s far more likely that my own viewpoint speaks to me more loudly in many cases. Giving other people a chance to be heard and to have their thoughts validated has been on my mind for the past few months. So I wrote about it today. Glad to see I’m not alone in thinking about this topic. Thanks for your insight always.

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    1. We are 100% an echo chamber. Though knowing that should encourage us to be open to different views and perspectives, so we don’t become blind to our biases. And then knowing we’re part of an echo chamber, we should all separately make an effort to balance that out in other parts of our lives. But to your point about giving everyone a chance to be heard, it’s why we try hard to cheer people on, whatever their path, rather than chide people for not doing what we do. But I’m sure there’s content in my writing that makes some people feel unwelcome here, and I’m not sure what to do about that. As you said, my own viewpoint speaks to me, and I obviously think there’s value in sharing it. But, I fully expect that everyone reading here is out reading other blogs and getting other news that contradict or challenge what I write about. ;-)

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  5. Must say that I haven’t put much thought into this, especially on the narrowing of information sources. But that makes a ton of sense, everyone is so connected they can seek out their viewpoints and then rally together. Sometimes that rally goes to an extreme unfortunately.

    Will have to pay more attention for awhile and see if I am guilty.

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  6. I have found it amusing going to CNN and scanning headlines and then clicking to Fox and scanning headlines. Same news different spin. :)

    Mrs. SSC and I got so burned out on “news” and all the negativity with it, we both used Zite and then got to read and scan articles that were “news” but not the type of news that was like “A toddler was shot dead by a strung out mother.” More like an online magazine of stories of our choosing. Until Flipboard bought them… Stupid Flipboard.

    Especially this last election cycle though, I’ve actually found it to be pretty easy to tune out the noise and not rant back at people who are pro one person versus the other. Everyone has their opinion and is entitled to it.

    I plan on being active in local groups whenever we pull the plug on working. Whether it’s for fun like a home brew club, gardening club, hiking or fly fishing club, or more serious where I’m volunteering somewhere, that should help. Plus riding the kids coat-tails for social activities will work for at least a decade right? :)

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    1. But seriously, what are we going to do about the rash of toddlers getting shot dead by their strung out mothers?!?!?!?! Sorry, not something to joke about (though I know you were sort of joking), but it’s a whole different subject, the problem of sensationalized, click-baity media. Sigh.

      I’m glad you’ll get involved in so many things after you leave the workplace, and absolutely you can ride the kids’ coat-tails! :-)

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  7. Very interesting post. I couldn’t agree more with your points on isolation. Especially when it comes to the media. We’ve become so siloed as there is a different news station for every view point possible. These stations just parrot the viewers ideas right back at them so they never get to consider another viewpoint. I agree that this is having a big impact on the divisiveness of our country.

    I do my best to get my news from sources that are as partial as possible. I just want to know the facts and then I’ll decide how I feel about them.

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    1. It’s great that you make a point to get your information from sources that are as impartial as possible. Though it was tough to think about today, we were reminded how important it is understand the views of other people, too, since there is clearly a dearth of that right now.

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  8. It’s funny, in personal finance, I think creating a bit of an echo chamber can be a good thing. The more we can drown out the consumerism, huge debt tolerating, live at 105% of your means noise, the better off we will be. But it get trickier with people. When we cut people out because they see the world differently, or care about different things, or have a different story than us, we make our world smaller in a negative way. I always want to have room in my life for another persons experience. They might not get to be in my inner circle, with lots of influence and say in my personal decisions, but there is a space. And I appreciate the weird, eclectic mix they bring on so, so many topics.

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    1. It’s a great point that some degree of echo chamber can be good for support and learning — the tough thing is that it’s often hard to tell when we’re in an echo chamber, so it’s incredibly important not just to be open to other views but to make an effort to seek them out and really understand them. :-)

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  9. Just like baseball. We all support different teams but we’re in the same league. Without the other teams, there would be no sport. We need each other to exist. Same thing in the real world. I’m not going to unfollow or block someone just because they’re a ______ fan or a member of the _______ party.

    I think we can all agree on one thing though: Hotdogs are not a sandwich.

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    1. Gwen – I’ve only briefly browsed your blog (but will read more!), but I don’t think you’ll mind if I add one more…

      Leggings are not pants.

      Great analogy with baseball :)

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        1. This seems to be cyclical at my office — we go through phases when the younger staff dress appropriately, and then one person will wear a crop-top or overly short skirt, then others see that and start doing the same. Then it’s an extended period of tamping down the flames!

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  10. Throughout this election I have been flipping between my preferred news sites and those of the opposition, but I confess I have been doing so mostly to confirm that the other side is Biased. I agree that it is important to understand opposing viewpoints. In fact, I think that there is a lot of opportunity for common ground if people where willing to work together instead of obstructing. But I’m not sure how to overcome the perception that the opposition news sites are biased. The media landscape is a difficult one right now.

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  11. Very good point on people looking for affirmation of their own thinking. Staying connected and challenged is a must.
    I think you are well placed to stay challenged and fresh, even in retirement…!
    That being said, the FIRE community is a self reinforcing community… we all say and think it is possible (Not that I doubt it is not possible) Keeping in touch with others helps to rethink and reevaluate what we do.

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    1. I hope you’re right that we stay open to being challenged! Today has been a good but hard test. :-( And you’re right that some degree of echo chamber is helpful in terms of giving us support and reinforcement, but we have to be careful not to live fully within the echo chamber!

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  12. Thought-provoking post, as always. It’s something I’m starting to think about a lot in terms of what I want for myself: in ER, especially, we’re privileged enough to be able to tune out most of the noise and largely ignore current events and opposing viewpoints, if we choose to do so. That could actually be very positive for our happiness in the short run. I know it’s “just” social media talk, but many people I know are already retreating to that type of conversation now — the usual “moving to Canada,” “wake me up in 4 years,” and “this doesn’t affect me directly anyway [because I’m a well-off white male]” stuff. On the other hand, as a financially independent person, I’m in a unique position to challenge myself in many new ways, meet new people, and dedicate time to causes that matter to me. And to your point, I think that’s where longer-term fulfillment will probably come from.

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    1. Thanks, Matt. To be honest, I’d love to do the exact opposite of my advice right now and ignore the news for a good long while. It’s crazy hard NOT to retreat when we feel fearful. If you figure out tips for embracing other viewpoints in the toughest moments, please pass them along!

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  13. This is definitely a timely post, with a lot of interesting points about just how crucial it is to be versed in multiple viewpoints, not only our own. Good to remember the personal benefits like brain flexibility, warding off dementia, etc. Truly it is a sign of maturity to be able to empathize with those of differing opinions. Keeping our news sources varied can go a long way toward that goal.

    The points on isolation of retirement resonate with me; I’m beginning to feel this pain now that I’m nearly six months removed from work. This is partially due to the fact I’m not retired, but raising kids, so my activities are fairly limited and repetitive. It’s only for a brief period, so I know I can handle it, but lately I’ve felt like I’m going stir-crazy for lack of adult interaction! Still finding my rhythm, I guess. If we move in the next year, I’ll have to start over with relationships, still without work as a jumping-off point. It’s challenging, but thanks for the encouragement to push ourselves to avoid isolation and make the effort to really know and understand others!

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    1. It’s interesting that this resonates with you based on being home with your kids. (That’s a good and important reason!) But I hope that if you decide to move you can get out and make new friends, for so many reasons — so you have support when you need it, and for mental flexibility!

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  14. I think most people assume that others share their beliefs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been surprised–even floored–when friends and family made statements that made me feel I didn’t know them at all. I even wondered, “Did you really just say that out loud?” Because if they did, it means they think everyone agrees with them too.

    I’m all for open minds and informative discussions, though. It sure beats the alternative.

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    1. Oh, I can definitely relate to that experience! That “I don’t know you at all” moment. And I’ve probably inspired that same feeling in others a few times, though I make no secret about where I stand on most things. :-)

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  15. Confirmation bias is real. It’s fascinating how many people consider the various nightly cable political commentary shows to be objective news sources. I was in Australia during the previous presidential election and it was fascinating to watch their coverage of the cycle.

    This is true in almost every aspect of life. There’s a lot of dogma in many people’s opinions about investment choices, health choices, travel choices, hobby choices. You name it. The difference is that most people don’t take it as personally when the person who chooses not to eat meat or not to eat vegetables, or not to like this sport or that sport, or to have kids or not have kids. There are exceptions of course, there is someone out there who will be very passionate about any given thing. Looking at society in general, politics is one of those things that people can get very polarized about and seek to surround themselves with like-minded thinkers.

    Biases can be very limiting and that’s unfortunate. I can definitely say that there are some countries that I would have never thought of exploring if I didn’t let other people’s experiences convince me to get out of my own bubble. Hoping I might experience something similar to that on the road trip.

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    1. Yeah, I think that’s part of what frustrates us most — that people confusingly both blindly trust certain news sources and blindly dismiss others. When did we lose the ability to discern the difference between fact-based and opinion-based information?

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  16. I thought I was doing well. I deliberately tried to read the other side…and I dismissed it because the rhetoric was so extreme.

    The key to getting the country out of our various echo chambers is civility. When the discourse defaults to “Those who don’t agree with me are evil/stupid/criminals” it’s hard to hear the very real issues that are driving our choices.

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    1. Couldn’t agree more. We’re in a terrible place right now where we can’t really discuss things, and it’s hard to see how we can come together when we’re in that place. But we can’t give up and refuse to try.

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  17. Bravo and well said. I am reading now, posts about how the world is coming to an end, women now need to buy chastity belts but it will be open season on “pussy”. I hear about division, about the triumph of racism, rape, sexism, hate and on it goes. I too follow many news service. I listen to CNN, to FOX, to MSNBC, I read Huffington Post and blogs by Mark Steyn and I follow Drudge. Above all, I actually listened, I mean really listened to what Trump and Hilary really said in the entire context and not just the carefully selected news sound bites of the likes of lying CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Time and again I listened to trump talk and then listened to what the media said he said and could not believe what I was hearing. And they lied and lied and lied again, shamelessly and totally. They cheated too, giving Hilary debate questions in advance. The news media made Hilary over to be a perfect heroine and angel woman trying to save America from an angry orange Godzilla. Enough Americans saw through the biased garbage and rejected it. Trump is certainly no angel but he is not the monster he was made out to be in certain parts of the press. American and her institutions are far bigger and stronger than any one man or woman. I predict in 20 years time Trump will join the likes of Kennedy and Regan and go down in history as one of America’s great presidents. Time will tell. Meanwhile your advice to check many sources is the best advice there is. God Bless America.

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  18. Confirmation bias is a difficult challenge to overcome. It is present in our personal and professional lives.

    On a professional level, it can be hard to try to find fault with my own ideas and products. This is a work in progress for me, where I edit emails, letters, presentations, and memos one more time before I send, where I try to see my ideas from other perspectives, and welcome feedback from coworkers.

    I think of media headlines as great places to begin my understanding, not the definitive source. I enjoy diving into topics to understand the historical context and contemporary sides. For policy, I always ask who would benefit from this and who would be hurt by this. Learning is a life long endeavor.

    I like this comment from Matt at Optimize your life:
    “One of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people is “Seek first to understand. Then to be understood.” This habit would serve you well in avoiding confirmation bias. Before trying to convince others to join you on your side of the issue, make an effort to understand why they believe what they believe.”

    The full article can be found here:
    http://www.optimizeyourlife.co/thinking-smarter-avoiding-confirmation-bias/

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  19. It is just a hard day today. Unfortunately, I have little to say and somehow lacking energy. I guess I need to tune in to self today and focus on that. I think I am going to be doing this a lot more than usual over the next few weeks.

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  20. Great post about an important subject. I am guilty of information bias too. It’s difficult to find a credible news source on both sides (and, I mean “both,” not “the other”), though. I almost exclusively listen to NPR and watch Public Broadcasting. Although some would argue that they have a “liberal” bias, at least they bring on commentators from both sides and really delve into a subject. I admit to unfollowing a few people on Facebook but it was only after they spouted crazy, racist, or sexist beliefs. I’m always up for an adult conversation with someone who disagrees with me – not because I hope to change their mind, but because I want to understand how and why they think a certain way.

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    1. I’m guilty, too — and was especially guilty today. :-( I admire you for seeking out different viewpoints and being willing to have engaged conversations! It’s so easy to just decide to not even talk to people who disagree!

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  21. Hey, upstream! Thanks for the suggestion to read Wait but Why? A very timely read, for sure. I live in a DEEP red state, so I was not as surprised by the outcome of the election. I mentioned to someone today that my overwhelming feeling was one of empathy: I remember seeing all those Romney supporters just downcast after the last election. I had felt sad for them then, and I feel sad for Clinton supporters now.

    Granted, I feel much sadder for the people who are likely to lose their insurance coverage next year …

    Anyway, thanks for the research roundup on social isolation. That’s been a big concern for us in our regular, non-retired life, and we’ve been trying to figure out how we’re going to deal with it in the here-and-now. And, here comes the universe (via you!) providing more reasons to prioritize NOW and not just THEN.

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    1. Glad the advice is helpful. Social isolation is a real thing with horrible consequences, and after elections is a time when people seem to retreat even farther than usual into our corners. We can’t let it happen.

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  22. You make a good point. And it’s true, PF blogging is a bit of an echo chamber but

    I won’t venture into FB unless seriously (and I mean SERIOUSLY) compelled, but I have a wide swath of people across the political spectrum, from one end to the other, in my life offline whom I love dearly, and my Twitter feed is a mix as well.

    I just won’t follow or listen to people who are generally unpleasant, and sometimes that is driven by their political views. I’ll never tolerate a troll for example, but I don’t have a problem with hearing more than my own viewpoint when we can be civil about it. And overall I’ve had an amazing civilized discourse with people who have not seen eye to eye with me, so I know it’s absolutely possible. Heck, I can discuss politics civilly with both a self described flaming liberal and a hardcore lifelong conservative in real life, because we respect each other and care for each other. When we deny the basic humanity of someone just because we disagree, that’s when we run into problems.

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    1. YES to every word of this. It’s the loss of civility that feels most tragic to me, for all the same reasons you say. I can talk to anyone about anything, and if we’re both treating each other like humans, I can ask questions and really try to understand their view. But that’s getting harder and harder. I don’t know if this is the full answer, but it seems like our only hope is to make an effort to understand each other and to get back to a place of civility.

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  23. I enjoy some controversy, so long as people are respectful. But I also enjoy talking with like-minded people, and it’s true that it’s easy to isolate ourselves in that milieu and miss the big picture. We’ve largely built our lives around our social relationships, which means we’ll retire later, i.e. less early (due to less side hustling, not moving for jobs, not working extra hours), but when we do, we’ll have no shortage of people to interact with. I’m sure you’ll spend time with friends so long as you make it a priority.

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    1. We’re the same in enjoying talking to like-minded people — that was hands-down my favorite part of FinCon, for example. But we all need to recognize that we prefer that, and make that effort to get out of our bubbles. And I really believe that retiring later will be worth it for you guys because you’ve built such rich lives where you live!

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  24. This isn’t exactly related to the post but how does the possible repeal of the ACA affect your FIRE plans? I’m already very concerned and our FIRE date isn’t for quite a few years. I was never counting on a subsidy but will not FIRE unless I can have access to a solid plan that isn’t going to drop me if I get cancer or something. I’m not saying that the Republicans can’t come up with something like that–it’s just unknown at this point.

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    1. That is a huge subject, and one that I promise we will address in a post very soon. It seems hard to believe, though, that they will repeal it all at once. But much remains to be seen. Certainly has huge implications for a lot of us in the FIRE crowd!

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  25. Yes to this! It is SO hard to actually stick to it though. I’ve definitely unfollowed people I disagree with and I’m not proud of it. It would be one thing if people could express their thoughts without being so negatively critical of the other side, if people could stick to attacking a person’s policies rather than their person. I do try to use unfollow way more over unfriend unless I have a pretty serious reason to unfriend someone. I have had some interesting discussions around the election with people, so long as both sides can present their views without judgement and it’s been fascinating.

    In some states, if your state is mostly one sided, you might find it difficult to find people locally with vastly different political views than yours. I know that’s the case in my local area.

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    1. I’ve found it hard to take my own advice as well. I agree that it’s especially hard when things devolve into personal attacks and name calling… sigh. I think the bigger thing we can all do is just to seek out news from different sources, even if we aren’t necessarily engaging with our crazier friends on Facebook. ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I love this post! A high school friend got politically energized after this election and has been reaching out to her friends on all sides to ask for book recommendations, etc to help her understand why we all feel so differently about America. She asked me to give her recs for “both” sides if I knew any conservatives. I was having dinner with my favorite Republican operative that night and she sent me a photo of her favorite section of her bookshelf. I am always glad when I see people trying to understand other versions of humanity.

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    1. That’s so admirable of your friend! I think, especially with how much divisive rhetoric is still out there, it’s *especially* tempting to retreat into our corners… and, not gonna lie, I find myself doing this in a big way. I’m super impressed by those who can truly reach across the aisle and aim for understanding, even when things get to this level of vitriol.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I only reach out with folks I feel are reachable. I’ve definitely learned a lot from my savvy girlfriend and have changed the way I speak about things. It’s helped. Folks let me know that they hear me now and see what I’m doing and that they are grateful.

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        1. And focusing on your own mental well-being is also important. Talking to a brick wall is foolish behavior in most circumstances.

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