By Kelley Birschbach
“I live in an echo chamber.”
It was a courageous statement spoken with a bit of chagrin. Though it’s been a big topic of conversation since election night 2016, admitting our own echo chambers is not easy.
We tend to avoid politics at Innovators Peak because, well, can’t we all just get along? But more than that, because we believe connecting technology with the brilliant — and the brilliant with the brilliant — will lead to the solutions we all seek.
And that’s exactly where this is headed.
But like many, Nina Sharma and her friend, Maribeth Romslo, were shocked the early morning hours of November 9th. They both had already purchased plane tickets for January 20th to Washington DC for what they believed would be the inauguration of the first woman president in American history. But Donald Trump’s victory caused these two friends to pause. How had they been so blind-sided?
“I totally live in an echo chamber,” Sharma re-emphasized. “My Facebook feed is exactly what I want to hear and confirms everything I already think… I’m pretty well educated and I think of myself as worldly, but I’m only having one-sided conversations and that’s a huge problem.”
Sharma and Romslo have been friends for years – Sharma the Associate Director for Denver University’s entrepreneur ally, Project Xite, and Romslo, an accomplished filmmaker in Minneapolis – and after election night, they lamented together as close friends do. But it didn’t stop there.
“We felt like we had to do something.”
Going All In to Find the Whole Truth
After throwing around a few ideas, they landed on something “long-lasting” and “far-reaching”. The two friends would create a space where people could listen to and learn from voices unlike their own.
“It’s a little bit of Snapchat, a little bit of Humans of New York, and some people have likened it to NPR’s Story Corps,” Sharma said.
Symbolically released December 15th – the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the 1st Amendment – this free mobile app allows anyone with mobile internet access to share their truth with people who may be on the complete opposite end of the country or the spectrum of beliefs.
It’s simple: download the app (available on Android and iOS), enter in your demographics, and start exercising your freedom of speech. You can expect to share your hopes, fears, and how it feels to just be you.
But then, make sure you spend some time in the video library of other citizens’ truths. This premise only works if users are willing to face the reality of how someone else sees the world and look for shared humanity.
“It can be hard to hear other people’s truths, but I think we’re ready for that.”
Yes, it will take a bit of mental and emotional fortitude, but the Whole Truth Booth is a hand-held opportunity to move forward through our nation’s future hand-in-hand.