A rare rant: Might As Well Buy a Tabloid

A recent NYT article explored how social media exacerbates already-existing prejudices and feeds our basest instincts. Tribalism, prejudice, violence… essentially Facebook and it’s doppelgangers are drugging the world and encouraging us to be more hateful.

Facebook is on trial, Sheryl and Mark are apologizing and blame is spreading like wildfire. IMHO, this is not their fault! It’s our fault!

It used to be that grocery store tabloids were ridiculed for encouraging naive housewives to believe that aliens lurked everywhere. If she believed it, she wasn’t thinking critically.  Ha ha, she was stupid! To those who understood the reference, Social Darwinsim gave hope that this poor soul wouldn’t procreate.  Yes, the tabloids were blamed to some extent, but really, they were just a joke that profited from stupidity. Good for them for finding a capitalistic opportunity.

How is that different from Facebook? Just because social media is more complicated and less overt in its mission, at the end of the day, Facebook and YouTube are selling stories, regardless of their truth. If you don’t think about your news feed critically, you might as well buy a daily subscription to the National Enquirer.

We have a natural instinct to assume the worst in people and be suspicious of outsiders. Algorithms which spread fake-news makes this worse. I totally get that.

What I don’t get is why our natural instincts to be suspicious don’t extend to our Facebook news feed? If we are being duped, it’s our own fault. The best we can do is to be rigorous in our thinking and reading, ask questions and assume that others are just trying to do their best also.

If that’s too much, just be kinder.

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