The Power of Selective Exposure


Farhad Manjoo, in his book ‘True Enough- Learning to live in a Post-Fact Society’, explained why people see same thing through different eyes. I have always been wonder why people don’t understand plain truth. Now it makes sense that facts don’t remains alive. It is not due to lack of evidence but due to how prejudice you are. Farhad Manjoo said that whether there are few evidences on an accident or too much evidence both necessarily doesn’t prevent a dissonance. “Reality splits, and then the split reality spreads”. The phenomenon is not new, which have always been but now accelerated by digital world. Illusion is becoming so powerful that it weakening the truth. When you encounter the information that contradicts your core belief, it becomes hard to accept. This is how selective exposure works. To explain why reality splits or why plain truth becomes divergent, you need to understand selective exposure. “Selective exposure evolves from cognitive dissonance”.

The idea “social reality” lead to generate group belief and it alters the individual’s belief. We concede group belief to become socially secure. Social groups derive from propinquity. It is obvious that relationship generates automatically with neighbors as our meets are limited to them, though it is not always true, that’s the greater possibility, similarly old relations disappear as we go far from old groups. However, these days digital platform has diluted this phenomenon by exposing us to unseen, favorable world. It extended our limits, so we don’t need to concede our belief in shake of “social reality”. Selective exposure allows you to choose the information, people you want or those fits your ideology. And this is dividing the world apart, consequently we see different opinions from the people living together and the truth is losing power.

I didn’t know much in detail about 9/11 attacks, hence reading this book really surprised me that how some groups have different views on the attacks far form official story. Be honest, it hurt me that few folks, to get attention spreading propaganda on such a serious concern and got succeed. Falsity, “weak dissonant” spreads more easily because it is more attractive as Lowin says. Folks who spark falsity exploits these weak zone of other’s brain, whether they personally believe in that way or not. They wanted to be different or in light, when something serious happen, they come out and present divergent thought and got attention. And it is easy to conceive those false ideas, because it gives you options. Peoples who have dissonance with government or an organization, they ignore reality given by that particular organization; they always have space for something different from what have presented by their rivals, hence they welcome such falsity and consume it. They only select what is in accordance with their belief. They remained untouched the truth. When you have one theory, you easily consume it with great satisfaction, but you have lots of options, you become divert and probability of being chosen right thing is decreases.

Good Timing Manjoo

To start off, this was not only an interesting read, but an incredibly important one in the time period we live in. Obviously. The fact that this was written in 2008 means that Manjoo will hopefully come back to this topic and update it based on what he has seen since.

This is a topic near and dear to me so it brought up a lot of powerful emotions, which mixed with my achy dizzy recovering from influenza mind to hopefully bring about some meaningful words. Hopefully coherent, at the very least.

The fact that the book starts with John Kerry and discusses his Vietnam background was awesome because I saw this reaction unfolding firsthand with my mom. Her knowledge on these topics was, and always has been, very limited as she goes by what she hears rather than what she researches and sees for herself, so she very much fell into the trap of thinking these un-backed claims about Kerry were true.

To this day, she still argues with me about Starbucks’ stance on “not supporting the troops” because she still has the letter sent out by Sgt. Wright. Even though, I continually tell her about his second letter that says this:

Dear Readers,

Almost 5 months ago I sent an email to you my faithful friends. I did a wrong thou that needs to be cleared up. I heard from word of mouth about how Starbucks said they didn’t support the war and all. I was having enough of that kind of talk and didn’t do my research properly like I should have. This is not true. Starbucks supports the men and women in uniform. They have personally contacted me and I have been sent many of their Company’s policy on this issue. So I apologize for this quick wrong letter I sent out to you. Now I ask that you all pass this email around to everyone you passed the last one to. Thank you very much for understanding about this.

Howard C. Wright
Sgt USMCWright

This book really resonated with me because it definitely touched on some of these issues that I have experienced first hand. I thought for sure she would realize that her long hatred of all things Starbucks was unfounded when I proved that the initial letter was not true, but instead she just shook her head and said she won’t go there. For context, my brother is in the military so these emotions she felt for Starbucks, thinking they didn’t support the troops, were intensely strong. So strong, that “facts” meant nothing.

More to talk about…

I think this infographic above is really important and I would like to touch on it some in relation to the reading.

Here is the link to the article describing this infographic where it explains a few of the changes that have happened since it was made:

I think this is incredibly important because as we are able to access more and more information on the Internet, not only are we exposed to stuff that can be 100% fake, we are also put into this weird position of both 1) acknowledging that due to the limited nature of the options surrounding MSM it is most likely going to be somewhat biased and 2) needing something with the reputation of MSM in order to see it as a viable source of news.

While I get that Manjoo’s description of the open bar story with people sharing information at random can be incredibly dangerous in terms of spreading “fake news”, I also think it’s dangerous to rely too heavily on corporations. Sources have never been more important than they are today. Just ask the people in Bowling Green and the people in Sweden.

Alt. Blog Post: Where I Have Read In Depth Every Word We Were Supposed To Read

I’d like to start by laughing about the para-textual information given to us with the book that has been selected. On top of the current events about “alternative facts” we also have what looks to be a park ranger on the cover.


Either Manjoo knew what 2017 held in 2008, or it’s just a super hilarious coincidence, in either case, I am pleased to think about the different ways this book is probably really relevant. But if anyone else wants to think about how the National Parks are at the head of the resistance, here’s something to check out.


The Intro:

Let’s talk about how books lie… but I won’t lie to you….

Well I guess we’ll have to take your word for it. But I also agree with Katie about how there is so much information in these three chapters and how it’s a lot. (ALSO SUPER LONG, DEAR GOD).

Journalism and lying….

I’ve had conversations about this and the different ways of conveying information with my coworker, who in turn wrote this blog post about it just last week. It kind of boils down to a conversation of ethics… a conversation I like playing devil’s advocate on.

What’s true and what’s not true?

I have a coworker who points it out consistently right now. He talks about how he can no longer tell the difference between reality and parody. This is unfortunately true right now.

And then there’s the example of fake news, just as Manjoo talks about in his first chapter about not believing one news website so just only getting your news from the other website. Which, of course, then got re-embedded into more fake news… but just as my coworker says, what is real and what is parody:


Which of course I cannot manage to embed. FIGURES. Because of the two clips, this one is probably more important for the point I’m trying to make. But SNL can’t have all of their skits posted on YouTube… that would be too easy.Regardless, there are A LOT of good examples of the “split of reality” Manjoo is bringing attention too.This theme continues into Manjoo’s second chapter where they discuss the way that people tune in and out of information they don’t want to hear. This is why the last year has been so testy. We’ve listened to what we want and have closed ourselves off to what we don’t want to hear. We’ve ended up in tears at the dinner table having different viewpoints than our parents. Whatever those viewpoints are.

Manjoo talks about cognitive dissonance in regards to a particular presidential election.He continues on talking about politics, because nothing we do can really be considered non-political… right? The farther I got in, the more it boiled down to our own based-in-denial-psychology. Constantly avoiding points of view that aren’t lined up well with ours. “Post-factual” makes sense… especially right now… it’s obviously been going on for longer, but it’s more obvious now.

So what???

Well… as writers we’ve gotta do something with this information. It’s why Michelle had us studying rhetorical listening theory in ENGL 450. It’s why I wrote my last blog post about style and the economics of attention book. Don’t know what to do, but we know we can try and try again and try harder as we keep going.

Duck, Duck, Grey Duck and the Minnesota Conspiracy

Katie Kelly

Manjoo’s first three chapters in his book True Enough are a lot to take in both in the way of new information and linking them to demonstrated concepts. The showing of examples given to demonstrate selective exposure and selective perception are overtly political and emotional. While they are nationwide occurrences, trying to recall events that happened when I was in the fourth grade or younger isn’t exactly helping solidify the concept and impact these biases have over our readers. Instead, I propose another conspiracy theory that should be equally as charged on both side with far less importance to the larger realm of the world. That is: duck, duck, goose or duck, duck, grey duck?

The childs game is simple but the nomenclature seems to be far from it. Asking the majority of people in the United State it will be a resounding ‘duck, duck, goose’. But somewhere in the back, Minnesota will crawl out of the locker it was shoved into to proudly should ‘duck, duck, grey duck’ and then tell you it’s not as cold as it is in Minnesota. All stereotypes aside, the variation of the game between ‘grey duck’ and ‘goose’ has no effect on how the game is played, but it still of great importance for baseline understanding between people of different geographical regions. Now, the game originated in Sweden where the original translation from Swedish to English was in fact ‘duck, duck, grey duck’. The only problem with this is that Minnesota is literally the only one of fifty states that doesn’t say ‘duck, duck, goose’. So who is really wrong?

Considering it’s a fight of 49 to 1, sheer numbers would say that it’s ‘goose’ that wins. But the true translation is ‘grey duck’. Considering selective exposure and selective perception are also tied to social norms, it makes the argument that much more unclear. In the cases of playing ‘duck, duck, goose’ with my friends, either my friends from Minnesota refuse to play or we would not allow them to play because we were so stubborn about using our own nomenclature. (Why college kids are playing duck, duck, goose is another interesting social observation saved for another time). These same Minnesota friends have sent us articles about how the correct name is ‘grey duck’ and those of us who use ‘goose’ promptly ignore those articles. Then it comes down to the map up top. Knowing the correct translation and understanding the majority of the population does not use the correct translation, this creates two realities that live side by side and do no concede to the other.

I will, for the sake of beating up on Minnesotans, talk about the pronunciation of Nevada. Being a Las Vegas local it was always baffling to meet someone who pronounced it Ne-vah-da. Honestly, it made it sound a lot fancier than the bland desert deserved. The stranger thing is that this was coming from Californians, the neighbors who randomly bought houses in Vegas because why not. And then a good majority of the rest of the country also pronounces it this way. However, locals do not. There is probably no one alive today to speak to the true translation and pronunciation of the word from when the state was founded, but Nevadans have conceded that there are two pronunciations and one must be right. Issue being, both will be used anyway.

The idea of selective exposure and perception are social constructed to better explain our tight knit norms, especially when it comes to selective exposure to people. Moral of the blog post: the game is duck, duck, goose.