Andy's Blog

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Make the algorithm work for you, not against you!


So, by now, we all know that social media creates "echo chambers" or news and social feeds that can reinforce extreme views and beliefs.

How does this happen though? What is the algorithm doing? Are you sure you want to know?

Ok, here it goes.

The only thing that these tools and systems are doing is holding up a fun-house mirror in front of you. You know the kind that where you can see yourself but you're distorted in some way. Some make you look bigger or smaller, others magnify one part of you, and some reduce other parts.

That's what social media is doing with you. It is taking your searches, your friends, your interactions and your friends interactions and distorting them. It magnifies the things that keep you engaged and minimizes the things that it thinks you think are boring (less engagement).

Now, in your day to day life, what do we find interesting and what do we find boring? Since most people are driven by their emotional interactions, social media will amplify the things that excite and engage you - no matter if those emotions are positive or negative. Whatever keeps you clicking, that's what's being served and "if you are angry, here's something (or someone) that you'll really hate!"

We're being played. The problem is that we don't realize that we are playing ourselves. Remember, it is a fun-house mirror - you are seeing yourself distorted and misshapen.

The good news is that you can make the algorithm work for you if you really want it to. It takes self control and discipline though.

  1. When you see a post that is really getting under your skin, remember that this is a result of the algorithm trying to keep you engaged. Fight the urge to indulge and move on quickly. This will help convince the system that you're less likely to engage and subsequently, will show you that topic less.
  2. This one might hurt but, you should consider culling your friends list of those folks who only post the most provocative posts - even if you agree with them. Also, cut ties with the groups and pages that get or keep you riled up. Remember, part of the system's calculation is the behavior of the people you most directly interact with. If you don't want to be associated with this or that ideology or theme, then it is time to place some distance between you and that topic.
  3. This brings me to my last "hack" (sorry, bad word use but you get the idea). Cultivate new interactions online. Ask yourself why are you here and what do you want to get out of this experience? Participate in those kinds of interest based groups.

These changes will not take long to dramatically change your social experience. If you want a more positive experience online (interact with friends and family that are far away, learn about hobbies, etc) then doing these three things will change your feed within a week.

Make the algorithm work for you, not against you!

I hope all of you have a great day, week, month and year(2024)!


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Tuesday, 23 July 2024

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