Hey, here’s more of what you like

A huge building block to the appeal of social media – and ultimately to their success – is their brilliance in surfacing more of the things we enjoy.

You enjoyed this cooking video? Here are five other awesome recipes to check out. You love Led Zeppelin? Check out these 7 incredible drum riffs from John Bonham.

But also:

You believe X? Here are ten more reasons to believe it.
You hate this guy? Here are 13 other reasons to hate him even more.

The dark side is strong in social media and there’s no easy fix for it.

More of the same leads to more of the same. Whether it’s good or bad. Whether it’s useful or destructive. It gets amplified.

The thing to be aware of is that the control of the stream is with the media. They conclude that you are someone who loves Led Zeppelin and hates this guy. So they show you more of that stuff.

Not because it’s in your best interest. But because it’s in their best interest. It keeps you on their platform so they can show you more ads. And keep you from visiting someone else’s platform.

Most importantly, they don’t feed you based on who you want to be, but based on who you are. Or, more precisely, based on who you are according to their data (which, to be fair, could be a rather accurate representation).

Actually, TikTok has just announced some counteraction “to protect against viewing too much of a content category that may be fine as a single video but problematic if viewed in clusters”.

But ultimately, you should probably not let the media determine your priorities in the first place. Ultimately, you should take control of the pieces you’re going to consume. (And no, this is not a problem that’s only affecting the youth.)

A good place to start is to become aware of the mechanisms by asking “Why are they surfacing this?”

And then to practise saying “no” – either by leaving or by consciously searching for something of your choosing.

But in the end, I feel like an even better approach would be to question whether aimlessly surfing the media is a good use of your time at all.

Oh, and by the way, if you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy … well, I’m going to let you determine that.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz

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