Greek elections, neural nets and the “Echo chamber” effect
Last Sunday, the governing center-right party “New Democracy” (ND) won the Greek National elections with an immense, and a bit unexpected, difference from the loyal opposition center-left party “SYRIZA”.
Despite the fact that polls had correctly predicted the reelection of ND and almost everyone was expecting it, almost no one anticipated that the difference between the 2 parties would be more than 20%.
Following the election outcome, a considerable number of individuals in my social media network, particularly those within my age group comprising mostly Millennials and early Gen-Zers (the generations that mainly “reside” in social networks and spend a considerable amount of their timeon them) who share a political or ideological affinity with “SYRIZA” or the broader left, expressed strong discontent and skepticism regarding the electoral process or the vote counting procedures. Some of their social media reactions were enraged and even inappropriate in terms of political culture. They found it very challenging to accept that “SYRIZA” had suffered such a big loss, as it contradicted the prevailing sentiment they had perceived within society and social media before elections. This finding is worrisome because during the last months before elections, there were no polls or other data suggesting that ND would lose the elections.
This situation is indeed a cause for concern, as certain factors contributing to this effect have been extensively studied and are well-documented. One notable factor is that individuals who lean towards left-leaning political ideologies traditionally exhibit a greater inclination to openly discuss and express their political beliefs compared to their counterparts on the center or right-wing spectrum. Consequently, they tend to have a more prominent and vocal presence about their political beliefs. Furthermore, their exposure to and influence by information and opinions that reinforce their existing political convictions creates a reinforcement loop, isolating them from alternative perspectives. This is because they tend to befriend other people with common beliefs or consume information from media with a specific political direction. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the “Echo chamber” effect, drawing an analogy to a situation where people…