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November 24, 2015 11:38 PM

Facebook Is A Reflection Of You

Feel free to discuss politics, sex, religion and more on Facebook.

Free will. It's a powerful thing. Just don't be mad at Facebook for all of this negative commentary and imagery that is in your feed. The content that you see (and that you are creating, sharing and "liking")... That is your own doing. Facebook is not a traditional media outlet, where content is produced, edited and marketed from a certain standpoint down to you. Facebook - and everything that you see on it - is your own doing. If you don't like all of the hate that you are seeing in your feed, you are following the wrong people. Or, worse, the friends of their friends. 

Embrace the unfollow button. 

Years ago, I wrote about the grand flaw of social media: the more connected we become, the more inclined we will be to follow those who are "like us." We have shifted from the Web portal model (think of how Yahoo and AOL curated, edited and created stories like traditional media), to a place where our homepage (or, now, our main tabs or destination apps) is our Facebook or Twitter feed. It's easy to think that a world in which everyone we know is sharing and creating content exposes us to many more voices. In reality, as we add more voices, these tend to be voices that are aligned with our own, existing, belief systems. With that, our world becomes that much smaller. I'm often reminded of this when I hear people say how surprised they are that a specific political party is winning the popular vote, when - in their feed - they see nothing about them. Perspective is everything. 

What we see on Facebook is not the commonly held beliefs of the world. 

What we actually see on Facebook is a microcosm of how our friends and family think. The stuff that they believe is important. Good, bad or indifferent. If you don't like what you're seeing on Facebook, you can't blame the platform (which millions of people do). You only have yourself to blame. Sad? Yes. True? Yes. Here's the real question you need to ask: what kind of Facebook experience do you want? Lately - and for very good reason - people are angry and frustrated. At their local government. At other governments. At policies, both local and abroad. Facebook (Twitter and others) have become a fertile ground for us to relieve the pressure in our emotional valves. And, what always comes out, is emotional. As a collective, we're at a loss because the vast majority of the population has no media knowledge. They don't know how to source for truth, or even how to better understand that the messages that we share can often come from unverified sources. If we don't understand media, and if we don't understand how to vet news for credibility, all we can do is consume and blindly share (thus propegating opinion - and lies - over substance and fact-checked realities). Facebook is neither good or bad. It's a platform that allows us to share what we're doing and how we feel. When news gets trapped in between these fleeting emotions and reactions, it's easy to see how things can quickly turn into a boiling pot of hot mess. Still, this is not the problem with Facebook. This is our problem... and the people that we're connected to.

We have a lot of learning to do. 

By Mitch Joel

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