I sat down next to my husband on the couch after dinner the other night. He was fiddling with his phone, and I leaned over to snuggle on him. I caught a glimpse of his Facebook feed. As he scrolled through posts — liking things, commenting on things — I noticed something significant about his feed. It looked a lot different than mine.
His was filled with political posts, whistle-blowing articles, cop videos, military-related items, funny rants, what’s happening in Europe, etc. My feed has a few political memes, but a lot of inspirational image quotes, comments from friends about their lives, pictures of babies, families and nature. There’s also a lot of entrepreneurial information.
I’ve known for some time that Facebook feeds you information based on what you like, share, and comment on. They give you more and more of whatever you say you want to see. No big deal – right?
But then last night my husband and I were having this world discussion; and we were both mystified as to how so many people could be so blind. The evidence for our viewpoint is overwhelming. Do people not think logically anymore? Are they so blind that they believe that evil is good and good is evil? How could they be so ignorant?
I was pondering on this this morning when the thought occurred to me that this “feeding people what they want to see” could be quite deceptive, even dangerous.
Those who want to see whistle-blowing articles or news reports that support their beliefs will see them. They feel they are doing a service to the world by sharing them in their Facebook feeds, but only those who care about those subjects will see them. It will be shown to people who agree with their viewpoint — or like to find people to argue with about that viewpoint.
We aren’t informing anyone other than those who want to be informed and probably already are. Conversely, those who hold opposing views receive evidence, viewpoints and news reports that support their perspective. They see us as deceived, blind and evil. Can we not see the evidence that they see? When they share, they too are sharing with people who largely believe what they believe.
The world, for each diverse segment, is a reflection of what that segment believes. Sure, we know the opposing viewpoint exists and is growing (or dying), but we think the average individual surely sees and agrees with what we believe.
We also could be missing key pieces of information that could round out our view of reality. Do we really know what’s happening in the world? Is our view of public opinion skewed? Will we be shocked to see who wins the next presidential election because surely the majority agrees with our viewpoint?
When it comes time to vote and people go to the polls, whichever side loses will be mystified at how stupid people could be. What’s wrong with the world? Don’t they see the evidence? Probably not!
Our world view is colored by the social media lens of our own viewpoints; and reality could be something completely different.
And here is the danger…
For those who determine truth by whatever the majority believes, truth becomes relative. There is no absolute truth because people are lacking core values and beliefs — underlying principles that govern their actions and help them easily determine what is good or bad or right wrong.
A country without a moral compass who determines good or bad based on public opinion (or political correctness) can be swayed in any direction the media wants it to go. Those who maintain strong convictions based on principles will be pacified and lulled away into believing that they are making a difference by sharing on social media, when no one is hearing but the people who already believe the way they believe (or who are dead set on arguing with their viewpoint).
Sometimes, I wonder if there isn’t some group of individuals sitting back and laughing at us all as if we’re puppets on a string. Hmmmm…
Marnie (Pehrson) Marcus is a best-selling author and marketing and social media consultant specializing in digital content creation and Facebook Ad Management. Get a FREE 20-minute strategy session with Marnie here.