I recently read an interesting article about a guy named Matt Honan who decided to like everything he saw on Facebook for 48 hours, and the disturbing impact it had on his News Feed, as well as on his life. As he writes,
“See, Facebook uses algorithms to decide what shows up in your feed. It isn’t just a parade of sequential updates from your friends and the things you’ve expressed an interest in. In 2014 the News Feed is a highly-curated presentation, delivered to you by a complicated formula based on the actions you take on the site, and across the web. As day one rolled into day two, I began dreading going to Facebook. It had become a temple of provocation. Just as my News Feed had drifted further and further right, so too did it drift further and further left…”
This is a problem much bigger than Facebook.
It reminds me of what can go wrong in society when we polarise ourselves, and why we now often talk at each other instead of to each other.
As Honan remarks, “We set up our political and social filter bubbles and they reinforce themselves – the things we read and watch have become hyper-niche and cater to our specific interests. We go down rabbit holes of special interests until we’re lost in the queen’s garden, cursing everyone above ground.”
So, don’t be so quick to jump to a side.
If you really want to engage in healthy debate – then start by learning to argue the upside of the opposite.
Seek to listen and learn first. Choose to read things and expose yourself to books and cultures and ways of thinking that are different from your own. And even if you don’t change your mind, at least you will be able to respect a different perspective.
We don’t all have to agree, but we can at least be nice about it.