After I published the last article, I got a lot of responses of “I voted for Trump because he’s against abortion” or “I voted for Hilary to show my daughter that anything’s possible for her.” You think that’s why you supported your candidate, but it’s really not.
Reason 2: Personal News
There was a lot of talk after the election about “Fake News”. I agree it’s a problem, but not because the people who use Facebook aren’t used to it (some people hypothesized that the Baby Boomers got into Facebook this year and they’re computer illiterate) and not because young voters are dumb (even though they are). It’s a problem because on social media, you only see the fake news stories that you already agree with.
I’ve said before that we’re living in In-Between Times where self-driving cars are almost available and racism is almost dead and dentists are almost obsolete. Another thing that marks this era as In-Between is that a majority of people only read things about themselves. Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube are all catered to individuals. You post things about yourself – your thoughts, opinions, family gatherings, political leanings, meals, vacations, etc. – and your online friends do the same. Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube are all free sites that function exclusively on advertisements (it really bothers me when people say, “I got off of Facebook. They’re selling my information!” Of course they are. Facebook is free and you’re using it several hours a day. If you kept giving someone a ride to work and they never paid you for gas, I don’t think you’d hesitate to sell any and all dandruff they left behind).
These advertisements are based on your posts. All of these advertisements are catered to what you’ve posted. If you’ve posted that you ate the Seven-Patty Burger, you’ll see ads for Steak N Shake (as a rule, I refuse to eat at anyplace that abbreviates “and”). If your friend posts pictures of a family reunion at Disney World, you’ll start to see suggested posts about Florida vacations. If you publish a joke about Donald Trump’s fetish for golden showers, you’ll see a lot of fake news about Trump.
It used to be that you’d read the daily paper while you drank your coffee and planned ways to sexually harass your secretary. Then you’d go to work where people from all walks of life would chit-chat about the days events. Then you’d go home, have a lasagna, pretend the your marriage isn’t one of convenience, and watch the evening news; you might even watch the nightly news right before bed. Each of these outlets gave you different ideas and viewpoints to consider. Maybe there were only nuggets of something interesting: in the morning you read that “Nazi” means “national socialist”while you were eating bacon, ham, links, and patties. Then Archie mentioned that “social security is socialist” while you were finishing off that bottle of gin right before lunch. That evening, the local six o’clock news mentioned that “socialism can sometimes be confused with communism” while your wife was hinting that she wouldn’t have an opium problem if she’d married Vernon (he’s a dentist now). Then the eleven o’clock news had an op-ed piece about how “the ‘socialist’ part of ‘national socialist’ is just for show. Nazi Germany is a fascist state” as you drift off thinking about paying the colored man down the road a nickel to bust up your chifferobe.
You had to think about those nuggets and put it together yourself; you had to mull over the pros and cons. Most importantly, though, you had to hear differing viewpoints – all day, every day.
(As a side-note, I also think it’s weird how all the subjects we used to reserve for small talk are now off limits: religion, politics, money, even the goddamned weather)
No one reads the paper. No one watches the nightly news. No one checks Google Scholar to see what legitimate cancer research is being done. With all the information available to us – literally every album ever recorded, every book ever written, every film ever made is available for free on a computer that fits in your pocket – none of us check to see conflicting viewpoints. Forget “Fake News;” who’s to say what’s fake when we can’t agree on the truth.
We all get on Facebook, share a video of how entitled Millennials are, check and see if The Ex has gotten fat, and scroll through dozens of sponsored links, shared links, and suggested links all spouting the same thing:
In short, we used to be exposed to everyone else’s point of view on every topic under the sun. Now all we see is version after version of ourselves.
Filed under: Unrelated |