Sunday, January 31, 2016

Facebook is Making Us Predictable

In the online article, "Facebook is Making Us Polarized and Predictable", author Ben Schiller talks about the negative effects Facebook can potentially have on our life if we allow it
to do so. New research has shown that people who follow and friend people with similar beliefs and opinions are becoming more narrow-minded and prone to believe beliefs and theories and polarized to any other viewpoint. The article is summarized by Schiller as "We only read and share things we agree with—with other people who are exactly like us."

I've seen numerous friends, and even myself, participate in the culture of un-friending people or making them a "restricted friend" because the things they post tend to infuriate us or they are differing in view from what we believe. For example, I have relatives who have different political views than I do- I've found myself getting frustrated with the things that others post and disagreeing completely with what they have to say. I than will go and stop following them or make them a restricted friend, simply because I do not like seeing things I don't agree with and in turn, I enjoy looking at posts from friends that I do agree with. Which in theory, isn’t really wrong, but could have damaging effects eventually.

How is this damaging? Well, Schiller makes a good point in arguing that because we have the freedom to do this now, we are losing out on valuable viewpoints and are giving us a more narrow-minded view of life and more polarized to having an open-mind. According to the article regarding the research done by Michela Del Vicario, Schiller states, " Our findings show that users mostly tend to select and share content related to a specific narrative and to ignore the rest," Schiller continues in stating, "In particular, we show that social homogeneity is the primary driver of content diffusion, and one frequent result is the formation of homogeneous, polarized clusters.”

Although it may not be a “big deal”, as Schiller puts it, to unfriend a few people, over time this could definitely lead to a narrowing of viewpoints and a more polarized opinion of the world and our ideas. So next time you go to unfollow or “restrict” an annoying relative or friend, maybe think twice about considering their opinion, even if you don’t agree, and challenge yourself to think outside of the box.


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