In the days leading up to December 21st, 2012, I had wanted to send a bit of love to as many people that I personally know as possible. I think fondly about people constantly, but often want to ensure they know more tangibly. I considered trying to start a #LoveSurge meme of some kind, but ended up deciding to do it more subtly using the comment Facebook Like feature while also breaking out of my own “filter bubble.” Maybe it played out more as a #LikeSurge celebration of a long astrological new year.
I’ve never been too heavy a user of Facebook (FB). I mostly just post news, information, and art related to my Wiki World Order interests. I usually quickly scroll through my main feed which filter bubbles towards my ‘Close Friends’ (FB setting) and posts relevant to my interests. Then once every month or two I open up a couple dozen profiles I’m most curious about and check out their last couple months of activity for gems. And that’s pretty much it, generally using it less than a couple hours per week.
So over the course of a few long sessions, I slowly scrolled down the list of ALL my 1,300 Facebook friends and opened the vast majority of profiles (lost track of the last couple hundred since the sorting changes every page load). On each friend’s profile, my goal was to find at least one posting, photo, or something to Like…which I legitimated liked, thought was beautiful, or interesting. It was very rarely difficult to find a couple things to honestly Like within a minute, and of course, I ended up exploring some heartier profiles extra.
If nothing else, it was connective and very satisfying to do some baseline FB ‘stalking’ of all my friends at once…a massive update on hundreds of old friends’ lives I’ve completely lost touch with (except for still being FB friends). It also felt selfish but wonderful to know that each of these beautiful people would get a little notification saying that Morgan PeaceRevolution Lesko had Liked some digital thing of theirs, dramatically improving the chance of them recognizing the thoughts of Love in their specific direction.
After the experiment was as done as it was going to get, I immediately noticed changes in how Facebook’s algorithms were feeding me information. To further encourage these filter shifts, I removed all categorizations of some friends as “Close Friends.” And for at least a few weeks, the friends’ whose posts were included in my main feed were noticeably diversified. Unfortunately, the effects faded a bit over the last two months with minimal Facebook interaction.
But I recommend that anyone who uses Facebook (at all) periodically try going through as many of their FB Friends as possible. You’ll be amazed how much you can learn, and how much you can remove some filters on the information you tend to see most. Some experts making a big deal about the Internet creating filter bubbles have a kernel of truth, but it is just a tool and what matters is how we use it.
The power is in our hands to take in as broad a diversity of information as possible. Our power to use critical thinking to weigh and reason real evidence, remove contradictions, and come to more accurate conclusions. Take that, filter bubble fear-mongers.