Beware of the Bubble!

The dangers of mindlessly following the algorithm.

Babatunde Mumuni
3 min readFeb 6, 2024
Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Once upon a time, if you wanted to buy a book, you would walk into the bookstore, find the right shelf, and browse through. You would look at the book cover and, if it was catchy enough, read the summary at the back. You would probably leaf through a few pages and then decide whether or not it was worth the risk and finally make your purchase. The available shortcuts then were a strong recommendation by a friend or having the opportunity to interact with the book before buying it.

This was the process of discovery. To be fair, it came with its highs and lows — sometimes the thrill of a wonderful connection, and other times, disappointment ranging from mild to extreme. Regardless, the process was the process until the algorithm showed up. With the speed and efficiency that technology often brings, this process of discovery has been significantly transformed. With tons and tons of data available to all the digital platforms on which we “operate”, it has become so much easier to create serendipity.

Photo by Андрей Сизов on Unsplash

However, as with all forms of technology, this can be a double-edged sword. Over time, these algorithms have gotten so efficient and powerful that they have become portals, rabbit (read black) holes. If you continue to rely on the algorithm for decision-making, it won’t be long before you find yourself in a bubble — a perspective of the world that is probably true to a certain extent, but certainly incomplete. These bubbles very easily become silos, fault lines that could (have?) become sources of division and conflict. We are now at a point where every different point of view is treated as assault!

Apart from leading us down rabbit holes, the other thing that algorithms do very well is to serve up a steady supply to keep us “engaged”. So, it is not enough to help us discover, it appears the focus is to keep us hooked! The attendant impact is that our attention suffers. It has moved very surreptitiously from supply to surplus. Now we find ourselves battling to reclaim our time and focus. People have written extensively about this elsewhere (Nir Eyal and Cal Newport come to mind — check them out).

What happens to people who are overstuffed with very narrow information and perspectives? Nothing good. Just take a look at the world around us.

How do we deal with this situation? First, a few questions.

When was the last time you read a book or listened to a podcast with a view that didn’t “align” with yours?

Do you actively seek different perspectives and opinions? Are you able to have civil conversations with people who disagree with you?

Depending on how you answered the questions above, you might need to be intentional about reclaiming your decision-making from the algorithms. They are excellent tools but can be very terrible masters.

Walk to an actual bookstore. Pick random podcast episodes on Spotify. See a stranger with a book, and ask what it’s about. Depending on how narrow and solid your bubble is, these are not going to be easy steps to take, but it is certainly worth the effort. It just might help to lessen some of the conflict in your corner of the world.



Babatunde Mumuni

I think and write here about life as one continuous experience, not fragments stitched together. I believe that we should partake of this with our whole selves.