How much time do you spend on social media every day? I check my screen times regularly, because I know when I am on my phone for too long, my thumbs will hurt, and my neck and back will get sore. Another aspect is that I see the reality more with a filter. I barely watch TV anymore. I only see my shows on demand. I do read the New York Times, but most of my news throughout the day I get from Twitter and Instagram. You might say that’s the real reality, as real people share what the mass media can’t or would not cover. Some say the news are filtered, the mass media, but in fact it’s social media.
First off all: I hold a bachelors degree in Media Management and I wrote my thesis on using Twitter in cooperate communication, so I know a few things not only about the micro blogging service itself but about social media in general. Its main goal is to keep users in the network and active for as long and often as possible. How do they do that? They use an algorithm that shows you exactly the content you want to see.
It evaluates the last posts you liked and estimates what you might like based on that. The more you like, the more data the network has and the more precisely can it show you content you love. The network doesn’t “know” what’s in a picture, so the Hashtags are especially relevant on Instagram. A so called “alt-tag” can nowadays be added, so that the user can “tell” the network what’s in the picture.
Sometimes you see content based on users you follow. When they like something from another person you follow, you will see their posts more likely than anyone else’s. The more of your followers or people you follow will like a post, the more likely the network “thinks” it’s relevant for you as well. That’s a reason why people should never react to negative comments with comments. The more who do that, the more people get to see those comments or posts. The high interaction rate makes the network “think” it’s relevant.
What should you do when reading a negative comment or post? Report and block that person. Take a screenshot and share in your stories, but don’t tag the person, so that others can and hopefully will do the same, causing the network to “learn” this is bad content.
Sometimes it seems there is so much bad stuff in the world, when it’s in fact so many good people reacting to it, because they don’t want to tolerate it, which is a good thing. However, this reaction causes more people to see the bad stuff. That’s the disadvantage of the algorithm. Overall it works pretty well. It shows you what you want to see, so you feel like everyone agrees with you, or has the same opinion. If you are against something, you will find similar posts than yours or those you liked.
In mass media there is no such filter. Some people might be confused, think one is “fake news” or whatever because it isn’t coherent with what they read on Twitter and Instagram (or any other social network). Certainly the mass media cannot cover it all, and you will find more details on social media. Mass media has the job to inform about everything, and as there is so much happening, they cannot cover it all. Good journalism has to cover both sides of a topic, that’s how you can distinguish between a good article or a bad one. Always look up the journalist to see if that person is trustworthy as well.
Some journalists might get paid to write in a certain direction. Some put their own thoughts in it (like in the comment section of a newspaper), but it’s the same with social media posts. Those are usually one sided as well. However, everything has two ways to look at it, and only when both are mentioned equally it’s a good article. We don’t live in a worse world, we just get way more information and it’s hard to sort it all out. Social Media shows you what you want to see and read, good or bad stuff, and is therefore a filtered reality. Put mass and social media in a mix, that’s what I do. I love to ask my friends from all over the world what’s happening, especially during the pandemic peak. Finding a balance is not always easy. Sometimes it’s even better to disconnect for a while and just live in the moment. You will be impressed how less you actually miss.
Too much time on your digital devices can be negative for your mental health as well. Not only like I mentioned do certain body parts hurt, but also my mind cannot rest. I think of this and that, stress myself to not miss a post and prepare something in time. I write here about mental health, so I thought to share my experiences. Since I allow myself breaks and be offline every now and then, I feel like I can breathe and relax from that stress I put myself on. Don’t get me wrong, I studied Social Media and I love it. It helped me a lot, I am just saying finding your balance of mass and social media as well as the digital and real world is the most important for your mental health.
I will talk about this on Saturday, August 1, in a new “Sanny is too stupid for politics”, at 2PM EST on my Instagram (see link below).
Thank you for reading.
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