You might hear the words聽鈥渆cho chamber鈥 and think of what happens when you鈥檙e singing聽in the shower and your a capella rendition of the聽new Katy Perry single聽bounces off the聽trendy mixed tile聽and comes back at you sounding slightly聽less great than you imagined. (It鈥檚 okay: We can鈥檛 all be perfect at everything.) But聽the echo chambers that matter most are the ones created by media loops.

What Makes an Echo Chamber?

Typically, an echo chamber refers to when our existing beliefs and ideas are amplified or reinforced because of the TV shows we choose to watch, the articles we choose to read, and even the people we choose to surround ourselves with. In the first 100-and-some days of Donald Trump鈥檚 presidency, you may have noticed your friends and family members getting stuck in their own echo chambers鈥 and if we鈥檙e being real, you probably have too.聽We asked聽Elle Lanning 鈥 an adviser to The KIND Foundation (a non-profit created by KIND), which has聽been working to create tools to help people break out of those echo chambers 鈥 to help us understand how these loops happen.

Lanning shares聽that these personal opinion loops are most rampant on social media. 鈥淚ronically, it鈥檚 a space where we feel most in control of the information we see,鈥 she observes. 鈥淚n reality, those decisions are being made for us, and they carry significant consequences that we are just now beginning to understand.鈥 So if聽we鈥檙e not making those choices, who or what is? 鈥淎lgorithms that present us with ideas that we are likely to agree with as opposed to alternate viewpoints are partly to blame,鈥 explains Lanning. 鈥淲e prefer not to see things that make us feel uncomfortable, and the algorithms have been designed accordingly.鈥

Algorithms or not, it鈥檚 important for us to take steps outside of our own echo chambers to allow for more open conversations with others 鈥 particularly as we all continue to learn how to navigate a country so divided by politics. Keep reading for four tips on how you can do just that.

How Do You Break Out?

1. Grab coffee with a friend you鈥檝e been known to disagree with.聽By now, you may be sick of talking politics in social settings. We totally get it. Before you give it up entirely, though, consider a casual meet-up with someone whose take on things you haven鈥檛 heard yet鈥 and if you already know that person鈥檚 opinions don鈥檛 match up with your own, all the better! Getting perspective about 鈥渢he other side鈥 from a familiar face is a great way to broaden your worldview. Is your social network in total agreement about the big questions? No worries! Check out Hi from the Other Side. It鈥檚 kind of like聽Tinder for political conversations but matches you with someone you鈥檙e聽incompatible with, allowing you to have a more balanced 鈥 and possibly more surprising 鈥 discussion.

2. Work new faces聽into your social media feeds.聽Everyone鈥檚 entitled to a good edit of their FB friends list every once in a while, but don鈥檛 make cuts simply because you disagree with someone鈥檚 politics. (Unless they鈥檙e obnoxious and aggressive about them 鈥 in that case, we understand.) The KIND Foundation created Pop Your Bubble to help you find聽fellow Facebook users with views that may shake up your feed.

3. Take a walk in someone else鈥檚 shoes.聽You鈥檝e probably heard this expression before (maybe from your mom when you were getting picked on in middle school), but have you ever thought about how it applies to politics and your personal echo chamber? Next time someone with聽views that oppose your own goes on a rant, pause for聽a beat before you respond. Take a grown-up approach to that whole childhood 鈥渨alking in someone else鈥檚 shoes鈥 exercise. If all else fails, try out FlipFeed, an app created by MIT. It allows you to replace your Twitter feed with that of another real user, so you can see the Twitterverse through someone else鈥檚 eyes. It鈥檚 a social media twist on your mom鈥檚 favorite piece of advice!

4. Try out an unfamiliar news source.聽Break out of your typical media routine by watching a different TV or radio news station, checking out some new online sources, or listening to an episode of an unfamiliar podcast with a political or current-events bent. The app Read Across the Aisle can help you identify outlets that may clue you in on fresh and different ideas and arguments. You don鈥檛 need to agree with the way these other sources present or聽interpret the news, but at least you鈥檒l have a more balanced understanding of current events and the way they鈥檙e perceived by others.

How do you make sure that you鈥檙e not stuck inside an echo chamber? Tweet us @BritandCo!聽

(Photos via Getty)