Something very frightening is happening on Facebook. And no, Kim Kardashian didn’t try to break the internet again. During the recent controversy over Ferguson, I read posts by Facebook users congratulating themselves for defriending people who disagreed with them, un-liking pages that posted “unfair” and “biased” accounts of events, and suggesting the best pages to like in order to get the “real” story.

On the surface, Facebook users are standing up for what they believe in and combating misinformation.

However, the effects of their actions are disturbing: by effectively silencing everyone who disagrees with them, users are turning their newsfeeds into echo chambers. On the one hand, this is nothing new. In recent years especially, cable news channels have aligned themselves with a party, and their viewership has followed. According to Pew research Center, in 2012, less than 20% of MSNBC viewers identified themselves as Republicans, while only 22% of Fox News viewers identified themselves as Democrats. It’s not surprising that viewers avoid stations that disagree with their ideologies, but it is concerning.

By cocooning ourselves with news channels, Facebook pages, and friends who only affirm our political stances, we are stunting our intellectual growth. It is by reading opposing viewpoints that we explore why we believe what we believe and, occasionally, find that we’re wrong.

Maybe when you read an article that you disagree with, you’ll be forming refutations to every sentence, but even that act of constructive thinking helps evolve your political perspectives. At BB&N, an already liberal community, the trend towards political isolationism is dangerously widespread.

As a community, we regularly demonize those with minority political opinions. There are relatively few Republicans at BB&N, which means that teachers and students can regularly mock Fox News, Mitt Romney, and anything even vaguely conservative, with impunity. Regardless of whether you agree with liberal or conservative views, it’s unhealthy to demonize dissenting views to this extent, especially about non-social issues. Regularly insulting those who disagree with you often becomes an excuse not to read or listen to anything produced by them, except in the form of soundbites.

As students, we should challenge ourselves to learn more both inside and outside of the classroom. That shouldn’t exclude politics. Encouraging ourselves to read, watch, and listen to opposing arguments catalyzes our growth as political thinkers. It might be natural to surround ourselves with viewpoints similar to our own, but it is critical that we seek out a diversity of opinion.