Junk feed

Information funnelI’m a total Facebook slut. Jenny doesn’t like it, but begrudgingly accepts that I happily share things about myself in all over the Web, not just on Facebook, but also discussion forums, Twitter and this blog (although I’m not quite as bad as this). I also have several hundred friends on Facebook and don’t block any of them from my newsfeed (games, apps and pages on the other hand, are a different story).

Why not, you might ask? A lot of people think that subjecting yourself to random posts is a waste of time, but there’s a hidden benefit lurking amongst the updates on Aunt Phylis’s latest medical drama, pictures of your friend at so-and-so’s wedding, and what Jack had for breakfast.

First, let me explain: our main instinct, when faced with the firehose of information that the Internet delivers, is to filter it down as much as possible, by “hiding” people from your Facebook feed for example. The problem with that approach though – even though it helps greatly with time management and feeling a sense of staying on top of it all – is that end up with a wicked case of confirmation bias.

Seeing only things that you like, and which align very closely with a tightly defined set of interests and values, will have a narrowing effect on your mind. One symptom I’ve observed in myself, is becoming bored with the Internet. Think about that for a moment – it’s the Internet. If you can’t find something interesting or entertaining, either you’ve become omniscient, or it’s a sign that you’ve become a victim of too much awesome. It’s not unique to the Internet either. Ever found yourself saying “there’s nothing on TV”, or scanned through the newspaper headlines and thought that journalism today ain’t what it used to be?

The remedy is simple: be open minded. Follow a blogger or Tweeter with a strongly different opinion to yours, take up a project like The Great Library Challenge like one of my friends did, or simply allow friends who post crap (e.g. me) to appear on your Facebook friend feed.