Is Social Media Polarizing The Conversations We Have With Others?
Lifestyle October 15, 2021 Wilko van de Kamp
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I’ve written about this one before. I’ve even left Facebook for a while. Admitted, I’m back, but never got really excited about participating in somebody else’s platform. I failed to see how it would benefit me or the people I was connecting with, other than exchanging vacation pictures (but there’s better ways to share pictures, too). Are social media likes about actually liking something – or seeing something that’s, like you?
The problem with social media is that it is anti-social. Think about it. When is the last time you saw someone publicly change their mind on social media? It doesn’t happen. The endless and instant sharing of opinions illustrates well how everyone’s view of reality is very different, but only polarizes the sharing of opposing opinions more. Algorithms by their very nature will enhance that polarization.
My first bot: polarizing conversations
When I was in university, I launched an experimental chat bot on good-old ICQ (remember that one?). It was my take on what we now call Artificial Intelligence – back then a long list if-then-else statements to help the bot respond to keywords, topics and positive or negative sentiments. The bot would find people to talk to in chat rooms, and engage in simple conversation. It wasn’t designed to do anything else.
But after a few participants, there was an odd observation. The algorithm would always find a way to polarize the conversation, resulting in a heated argument with the human participant on whatever topic they landed on (often politics or religion). The bot wouldn’t back off, but push further and polarize the conversation more. In a nutshell, this is social media at it’s finest, with the difference that it’s us humans fighting each other, and algorithms (bots) controlling the who-sees-what.
Words to live by
The other issue with social media is that too many people are posting “words to live by” but not enough of them are actually living by those words. Talk is cheap – only actions lead to real results. It’s like social timelines switched to boring mode? I don’t need to know that someone I once worked with commented on a radio station’s post with their favourite ice cream flavour. Unless we’re going for ice-cream, who cares?
Reality check: If you’re boring in normal life, you’re even less interesting online. Let’s stop trying to win the popularity contest on social media and break that pattern. Do (and share) something new and good. How are you spending your time today? Talk about what matters. What’s interesting in your life today, what’s something that truly matters to you?
If you could change the world – how would you change it? What are you truly passionate about? Are you sharing your thoughts, dreams and ideas – or expressing your vision through the work you do?
Controlling your timeline
Algorithms are smart enough to keep you just about engaged enough to not quit and leave altogether. Because once you do leave, Mark Zuckerberg lost another inmate he can market to. Social media is trying to control the narrative of your life – and they’re pretty successful at it if you let them.
Some people think it’s a great idea Trump got banned from several social media platforms, while his supporters (of course) are opposed against this “outrage”. Polarization at it’s finest. But are we all collectively ok with the narrative being controlled by a large media company? There’s a sinister undertone in the ability of corporations to “silence” people, no matter how much we may agree or disagree with that person.
On a side note, if social media algorithms can effectively control what shows up in my timeline – how hard can it be for social media platforms to make faceless online trolls and online bullying a thing of the past forever?
Humans connecting with humans
Social media is a tool – one that each person has to decide whether or not to use on their own terms. Online branding matters, as long as you make the conversation about what matters. The key to a happy life is building strong connections and communities with other people. We are all here to be stronger together. The more we can learn about each other, the more we can accomplish.
Unlike most, I’m not trying to win the popularity contest on social media. For me, it’s all about connecting the old-fashioned way, not controlled by some algorithm, but controlled by you. Humans connecting with humans. Nice and easy: if you don’t like what I have to say, you can simply choose to leave… but please don’t. I hope you’ll engage with my content and benefit from it!
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Wilko van de Kamp Text me: 604-210-8668
Hey there! I'm Wilko van de Kamp - a bestselling author, entrepreneur and personal branding coach. I've spent over 15 years helping people and businesses exceed their goals through personalized training and development. As the founder of Liberty Training Academy, I specialize in empowering authors, coaches and experts to elevate their brand and become the #1 influencer in their industry. My passion lies in using technology and storytelling to help my clients achieve their personal, professional and financial dreams. I'm always eager to connect and help others succeed, so feel free to reach out anytime. You can even preview some of my courses for free - let's chat about how I can help you! To get a conversation started, simply text me at (604) 210-8668