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Take the Change-the-Channel Challenge

Step out of the media echo chamber in order to learn something new about the world and about yourself.

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Take the Change-the-Channel Challenge

The Internet is a funny thing. On the one hand, there is a wealth of information out there at your fingertips. Almost anything you want to know can be found, because people have taken the time to put it up on the web. On the other hand, this wealth of information obliges us to select which channels of information we use. And as a result, we often unwittingly narrow our options to those we agree with.

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Years ago, information was distributed locally. You turned on your TV set, and there were three basic TV networks. There were a couple of local newspapers. There were a handful of big magazines that you could subscribe to. Because there were only a few outlets, they all had to provide content that spoke to a range of people. There were articles and programs on a lot of topics. Different political views were all presented. Unless you cut yourself off from media entirely, you were forced to hear things you disagreed with.

Now, you can choose from a vast and seemingly limitless array of options that are specialized to particular interests and even to specific views within that interest. YouBeauty focuses on a scientific approach to thinking about beauty. There are news networks for liberals and others for conservatives. There are networks for food, travel and home improvement.

The problem with having all of this choice is that you may end up listening only to people whom you are predisposed to agree with. Some of the most important moments in our lives, though, come when we are confronted by people who think differently than we do. Then, we are forced to question our assumptions and to look at our world in a different way. It may be uncomfortable at first to have our deepest assumptions questioned, but it is ultimately of great value.

QUIZ: Are Your Hobbies Bringing Out Your Best?

So, in the next month step out of the echo chamber and do at least three things that will force you out of your comfort zone.

Pick up a magazine that you have never read before.

Start up a conversation with someone whose politics are different from your own.

Watch a movie from a genre you normally avoid.

Take a trip to a place you have never been.

Try a style of food that is new to you.

Buy a book by an author you have never read before.

Listen to a new style of music.

And when you’re done, tell your friends about what you experienced. Leave a comment on this post and tell us about what you did that was new. How did these new experiments expand your horizons? What did you discover that may become a new favorite? What did you try that you will never try again? 

Vive la difference.

MORE: Learn Something New—Now

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