When you look at Facebook, you are seeing something completely different from everyone else in the world. This is because Facebook’s algorithm is designed to keep you engaged and on the website.
The site feeds you more and more of what it thinks that you would enjoy, or what you might engage with. This creates an entirely unique point of view on the world than any other user on the website.
So if you lean liberal, you may get more anti-Trump memes or articles on your page. If you are a Trump supporter, on the other hand, you may get more anti-Biden memes and news articles.
This culminates in people being fed only what they want to hear and leads to divisive and toxic conversations about sensitive issues.
The more and more we stay in these lanes of our own beliefs, it is inevitable that we become even more divisive, learning to hate those who disagree with us.
For risk of sounding like a “boomer,” there is something to be said about the bygone days of Walter Cronkite, and news that came from one unwavering voice, with everyone never questioning if it was in fact “the way it is.”
The increased amount of news sources, some of which being false, leads to distrust and disagreement in all media, rather than just the false kind.
This distrust sews the seed in people’s own version of reality, backed up by their own versions of fact. This drives people further and further away from each other.
That being said, social media can also be an amazing tool for connection and self-development. It can allow people to meet up with long lost friends. It can give a platform for independent creators. It can be an amazing place for people to connect with one another.
Not only is social media an amazing place to connect with others, it can also give way to creating a “brand” or image of oneself that one wishes the world would see.
Instagram is extremely useful in this regard. Users are allowed to create their own unique profile, showing off all of the traits they want the world to see. While yes, this can lead to a disjoint in how someone truly is and how they want to be seen, the ability to design a public image can be helpful in discerning who one wants to be.
The use of social media as a way to reflect on who you want to be as a person can have great effects on who you choose to be.
In today’s day and age, it is nearly impossible to just up and quit social media all together. It is central in communication among people our age. What is not impossible, however, is to control the way we partake in it.
We must ask ourselves: why do we use social media? Once we know that answer, we can alter how we use it.
Header photo: This July 10, 2019, photo shows an Associated Press reporter holding a phone showing the Instagram app icon in San Francisco. Instagram is expanding a test to hide how many “likes” people’s posts receive on its photo-sharing app as it tries to combat criticism that such counts hurt mental health and make people feel bad when comparing themselves to others. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)