I talked lengthy already about the effects of filter bubbles due to algorithm limitations. For example, FB will show us things we either totally agree with or totally disagree with. Thus, our perception of the world is being molded, or navigated, be it on purpose or not.
Let’s say you vote for a particular party. FB will discover this party by the way you press the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons. It also find this party through your FB chats, and correspondences. Thus, it might show you articles that most people who vote for that party will likes. But, it will also throw you another bone. It will show you things you will definitely hate. It will show you that Trump is a terrible president for example. This way FB will filter out things that might make you doubt these political convictions of yours so you are ‘stuck’ with your old believes. This is a filter bubble.
But, and I recommend you to read his writings, Jaron Lanier raises another question about FB. He argues, and I think he is right on his money, that FB simplifies things. It makes things easier, shallow and superficial. It makes human lives devoid of any complexity. Social media in a whole has this side effect. People are measured through several lines. On Linkedin, you are just a position in your Job. On FB you have a picture and a few lines about you. Even if I scan all your feed, it might result in an image that might not be really you. Because there are inner thoughts, you won’t share on FB. There are believes that you will not utter that are locked deep inside private chats or face to face conversation. A person is not the sum of his shares and likes.
But, we tend to interpret our social reality through this shallow media. We come to measure popularity through likes and followers. We come to see friendships as a binary status of FB (add as friend vs. friends). And the worst part that we think that everyone is happy while we are not. Why? Because FB again, make life experience to be seen as superficial. When people take a photo of themselves or their surroundings, they won’t show you a sad face. They will give a snapshot of the highlights. They will even fake it, just for this moment.
Nietzsche and Marx argue against this kind of thinking. They argue that when people come to analyze society and create their theories about human nature (as I spoke about that also), they look at things as they are now, and theorize about them. But, this is merely a snapshot of what is happening now. Society is complex, and the current turns of events have deep roots in other times. As things have changed, thus they will bound to change again, so how can you theorize without looking at the bigger picture? People used to treat society as a whole, as a homogenous group of people. But, there are subgroups, and clashing of believes and interests. The worst case is economists. They argue that everyone is rational, and behave rationally, to maximize their profits and get the things they desire. If that is so, why people gamble? Why people become addicted to alcohol and drugs. Why are some people becoming NEETS? All the models that are based on this assumptions are therefore wrong.
To connect this paragraph to the way FB distorts our understanding of the world, I argue that human experience is also not homogenous. When we see people that are happy and smiling in a picture on FB, we tend to think that they are enjoying themselves. And as a consequence of that, that we are not that happy, and maybe our lives are not that exciting, therefore we are not OK. But again, the human experience is way more complex than this snapshot of reality. Maybe before arriving at the bar, they argued whether to go inside or not? Perhaps they even fought. They probably were all glued to their phones, and barely spoke to each other. But we cannot see this. We only experience when we experience that. Thus, we start to build a world that does not exist. That everyone is happy. That everyone is thinking the same as me or that there is a group of crazy people that think the opposite of me.
The precious moments of boredom, grief and sadness. These moments are becoming socially excluded from the desired state of being. We have to be happy all the time, we have to smile on pictures. We have to look good outside of the house. We have to look fresh and alert all the time. We cannot be the complex selves, that feels negative energies, negative thoughts and so on. These are precious so please, don’t confuse reality with a mere snapshots of other people fake lives.