Your Facebook feed feeds your brain. It can feed it with positive messages or real world things. Or it can act like Cable News and feed you fear of the “other”.
So, stop making Facebook your amplified CNN or Fox News. Stop eating crap.
You, every day, are amplifying messages that you see.
Facebook likes to tout how sophisticated and mysterious its algorithms are.
They are neither. It’s a pretty simple equation.
RC*WC = CYS
Read Crap times Write Crap = Crap You See
So, the more political crap you read the comments on times the number of political things you actually write yourself results in your feed.
I altered my diet on Facebook for three days. I glossed over the political posts and commented on posts that talked about friends, family, food, or fun. Amusingly the only political post I participated in was the one I wrote saying I wasn’t going to participate in any more political posts because it became a discussion about political posts.
This didn’t mean I wasn’t still worried about all the things there are to worry about. But it did mean that I received most news from sources other than the same source that I use to communicate with people that I love.
In three days, the experiment paid off.
Day I – 10 of 20 or 50% of the posts in my feed were directly political and angry.
Day 2 – 6 of 20 or 30% of the posts were directly political and angry.
Day 3 – 3 of 20 or 15% of the posts were directly political and angry.
During or just before this time, two of my friends, people that I care about, who are on the other side of our current political wall from me (a wall none of us constructed, a wall of assumptions, a wall of unnecessary burden), had personal crises. One of them even said, “I can’t believe you’re helping me with your politics.” Not like there was a whole lot I could do, but this guy is someone I’ve known since I was a little kid. Not a close friend, but certainly part of the life that made me who I am and he who he is. Extended family, if you will.
That’s what this thing should be for. That’s what social media should be for.
Putin used our naïve social media systems with their touted “social graphs” and alleged algorithms and realized it was information overload that could be easily, trivially, exploited. Now, he has set up such strong divisions in the US that we do his work for him.
Everytime we take some news article, no matter how correct it might be, and share it, we are playing up Putin’s charge. Every Occupy Democrats post is doing Putin’s work. They’re short, they’re pithy, and they are designed to do one thing: incite.
Americans done need any more inciting.
We need civility.
I have seen friends on both sides gleefully post Obama or Trump videos taken entirely out of context and point and say “see how bad they are?!”
Putin wins. America, democracy, and a civil planet lose with every post.
I am not saying put your head in the sand or ignore what’s going on.
What I’m saying is, write about things in your own words. Reposting is way too easy. It doesn’t help you or anyone else. Use the posts as primary sources, let people know where you got your information, don’t just recklessly tweet, but listen to the last Republican president we had. For all his flaws, there was one thing that George H. W. Bush was not – he was not clueless.
When he said his silly line above, it wasn’t so silly. Inside us all are opinions, ones we hold on to tightly, even though we feel the fear behind them. Even though we know they drive a wedge between us and others.
In three days, I was able to undo Facebook’s insipid little algorithm. I did it by looking at David’s grandkids or commenting on Tonianne’s flower photos or cheering on Kathy as she hits the spa after the most altering of surgeries.
With just a few posts, I can shift it back.
But know this. When I was a kid, we had feed. It was what you gave to the animals you would later eat.
Right now, we are in Animal farm and we are not in the farmhouse. We are clearly less equal than others. But, we have the ability to set our own diet. Right now, we have feeds. Let’s take control and turn them into meals.