Originally published on 8 February 2021
I’m writing this before Super Bowl 55 has even been played. So congrats to all you [insert: Buccaneers or Chiefs] fans on winning the big game.
No, I am not bitter because my Steelers were once undefeated before completely collapsing this season.
Why would you say something like that?
Enough about football…
I’ve stumbled across an unintentional theme this week. Which is somewhat ironic because it all has to do with intentionality.
I’ve grown more and more concerned over the past few years about how giant tech companies sway what content I see, thus affecting how I learn and think.
The biggest example of this is Twitter.
I don’t have Facebook (I deleted my account last year) so I rely on Twitter for pretty much everything: sharing articles, watching funny videos, learning about current events.
However, I noticed, as the times became more politically charged, that I would doom scroll way too much. I’d check to see what was going on on Twitter and leave feeling miserable.
Then recently I had an idea: what if I were more intentional about my Twitter use?
So I unfollowed everyone on Twitter and began my own experiment to see if I could outwit the Algorithm. This experiment is the focus of a new article I recently published.
However, after solely focusing on Twitter, I kept simultaneously coming across other ideas from my various perusings that started to form a bigger picture.
From David Perell’s article about Peter Thiel:
In job interviews, Thiel famously asks: “What very important truth do very few people agree with you on?” With it, Thiel can identify heterodox thinkers who aren’t blinded by Mimetic dogmas or intellectual fashions. He insists that there are still secrets left to uncover. Some are small and incremental. But the most valuable secrets are big enough to shake the world. Like Easter eggs, these broad and unconventional truths are hidden in places where nobody looks. You can find them, but you have to dig in obscure places.Source: Peter Thiel’s Religion
From Jane Friedman’s book:
[W]e’re each curating our own “publications” based on who we connect with and what we like—and social media or search algorithms fill in the gaps. This phenomenon has been criticized as a “filter bubble”—a media environment that excludes divergent views and opinions. However, people have always selected and supported media that appeals to their viewpoints and interests; online media simply makes such behavior more evident, and perhaps more extreme.Source: The Business of Being a Writer
From Malcolm Gladwell’s book:
We live in a world saturated with information. We have virtually unlimited amounts of data at our fingertips at all times, and we’re well versed in the arguments about the dangers of not knowing enough and not doing our homework. But what I have sensed is an enormous frustration with the unexpected costs of knowing too much, of being inundated with information. We have come to confuse information with understanding.Source: Blink
What does this all mean? Well, unless something is done to curb the addicting effects of using social media and the Algorithm’s complete control over what’s filtered onto our screens, we have to make an effort to take back our timelines.
As Gladwell says, we’re “inundated with information.” Overwhelmed even.
But that doesn’t mean we should trade away learning something new or challenging our biases for convenient content curation.
Why? Because there are still “secrets” left to uncover. Can you believe it’s been nearly 50 years since man last walked on the moon?
We can’t aspire for greatness when our attention is sucked away by tiny glowing screens.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: we can let the Algorithms decide what we learn or we can make the effort to decide for ourselves.
To me the decision seems clear.
Until next week,
P.S. – Valentine’s Day is next week. Nothing says “I love you” more than buying your loved one a copy of my book about finding happiness in the small things. Okay, maybe a card will suffice but I will certainly love you if you bought a copy ❤️