How Facebook and the Internet is Making us Dumber

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 2.52.56 PM“A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” – Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook

The longer you stay on Facebook, the more ideologically and philosophically isolated you become.

Every time you click to “Like” something, when you click on a story, video, or link, you are telling FB what stories to place in your feed in the future, and most importantly what stories, videos, and links not to include in your feed.

In time, you will have a feed that is tailored to just what you already believe, what you already think, and what you already like.

This may be good fun, but this is highly dangerous for you will never be challenged to think beyond your current beliefs or ideologies. What is missing from our feeds are the things that we need to know even though they may be uncomfortable, particularly because they will stretch us, and because they will help us to grow.

It’s not only Facebook that’s doing this. Google, Yahoo, Huffington Post, New York Times, Flipboard, etc. are all monitoring and registering what we’re reading, seeing, and consuming.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 2.53.25 PM“It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them.” – Eric Schmidt, Google

What the algorithms of FB, Google, Yahoo, etc. are effectively doing is making everyone of us more bigoted, more isolated, dumber, and more set in our ways.

All this is being done behind the scenes, without our knowing, without our permission.

Try an experiment: get five friends together and Google “Israel” or “Islam” and see what happens. See what the search engines return.

What you see on your screen has been perfectly tailored for you.

So what can you do?

  • Actively seek out other points of view.
  • Set your Facebook newsfeed setting to Most Recent Stories and not the default setting of “Top Stories.”
  • Be aware. This is happening. Listen not only to the people and ideologies you agree with, but be open to learn from differing points of view. Be intentional in seeking such views.

The internet is a powerful tool. It connects us with people in the world as few things have done before. But blindly using the internet is and will continue make us dumber and even more set in our current ways and beliefs.