Breaking Your Filter Bubble

By | Friday, December 01, 2023 Leave a Comment
One of the complaints I've heard rendered against some comic fans and professionals over the years is that they can be too insular in their reading. I've heard some really talented pros before specifically cite that part of what makes them talented is that they don't limit the type of material they take in. More to the point, if they write or draw superhero comics all day for a living, they read not just other types of comics, but other types of material altogether. Novels and poems and song lyrics and non-fiction and just about anything else.

If all you ever take in is a certain type of story, that's all you're going to produce yourself. You'll basically wind up rehashing the same old stuff over and over. At best, you'll wind up being a hack. The basic way creativity works is when your brain puts together two (or more) ideas that previously weren't put together by anyone else. That's why mash-up artwork online can be popular -- combining two ideas that wouldn't normally be put together is new and different.

Beyond just characters, though, a broader base of information better informs what you produce. A lot of the sexism that shows up in mainstream comics, I think, stems from the fact that there are so few women in the industry. So female characters come off as shallow or two-dimensional; there's no real reference outside of all the other shallow and two-dimensional female comic characters that have been created and used throughout comics' history. Eli Pariser calls this notion of always keeping within the same circle of influences a "filter bubble."

Personally, I try to actively combat that filter bubble. I still read an inordinate amount of material relating to comics, of course, but I do try to counter that with some other things as well. I frequently try to TURN OFF those personalized results. I found having those only really distracting because I don't want to search on what I already read through a link on someone else's profile; I want something new!

You can walk around in circles if you like, I suppose, and stay within your comfort zone all the time, but I'd rather see/hear a wider variety of voices than just reflections of my own. I might disagree with many of them or find them wholly irrelevant, but at least I saw that my thinking wasn't the only option out there.
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