Facebook, twitter and linkedin feeds are great ways to gather information about your social network and important news. However, there are a couple problems with feed browsing that are important to keep in mind as you use them.
- Social feeds keep your browsing in your ideological comfort zone (limitation).
- Social feeds show you an exaggerated perspective of reality (exaggeration).
Why is it worse to browse in your comfort zone? By definition the content that inspires you to learn and break down old paradigms is outside your comfort zone. Curated feeds, on the other hand, show you what the website knows algorithmically that you already like. The feed mirrors what you want and gives it back to you, keeping you browsing but not actively exploring.
Granted, there is plenty of room for exploration after you land on a compelling piece of content in your feed, but that content is still only 3, maybe 4 links away ideologically from your starting point. You would have to travel many steps away from your feed to find content that is truly novel to you.
So in short, feeds keep you tethered to ideas that are in line with your existing ideas and interests, stunting mental growth and paradigm changing. You are letting yourself be shaped by content rather than seeking content to shape yourself.
Feed curated content is also highly exaggerated. What makes it to your curated feed is only content that is the best of the best, the most liked, most upvoted, most distant from reality. Social posts that rise in the feed are those with extraordinary content.
When you browse content that portrays normal as amazing, you amplify your desires and also confirm your own mediocrity by comparison. And when you want more than you have, you become unhappy and insecure.
Whole studies have been conducted on the psychology of Facebook, and many of them indicate that, especially in passive feed browsing, users are made unhappy, envious, and bitter by their Facebook feeds.
So now what?
Think about the biases that your feed has before you hop on. Be a rock in the river and not a leaf.
There are many positive uses for the feed, it is a place to begin browsing that will then lead you to more interesting and mind-blowing content later.
However, when jumping in there are a couple major pitfalls to avoid. If you don’t think when you begin browsing, you can be swept away by the content, unconsciously becoming more dogmatic in your beliefs rather than more open.
Originally published at blog.alexzitowolf.com on June 29, 2015.