I am as predictable as algorithms would like me to be
A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with a friend. She asked how I felt about Facebook and fake news. I didn’t have a particularly insightful answer to that but at one point I told her that I found Facebook’s algorithms “obnoxious,” and announced that I will move to the news app on my iPhone and twitter for news. She pointed out that “obnoxious” was an interesting way to describe it. It is. I’m not sure why I chose that word. Turns out I still use Facebook more than any other app to consume news ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
After tracking my media habits I realized few things. Old habits die hard, I actually enjoy push notifications, and the relationship status of Facebook and me; it’s complicated.
As long as emails have been available on phones, I’ve had the habit of starting out my day with emails (I know, I’m so fun!). It’s the first thing I look at when I wake up, before getting out of bed. First, I clean out junk emails, then I read what may be important emails and mark them unread, and lastly I go through my email newsletters. I may just read the headlines or click and read through actual articles.
From that point on, unless I’m driving and listening to the radio in the car, I’m on Facebook to get my news. On the walk to class, on the walk back home, eating, waiting, while watching TV, and sometimes without even knowing… I’m on Facebook. I find that when I’m on Twitter or other news sites, it’s because I’ve made a conscious choice not to be on Facebook. Facebook to me is like a giant bag of chips. I was only going to have a few, but all the sudden the bag is empty.
I started to feel that Facebook’s algorithms were “obnoxious” when I saw Buzzfeed Style keep popping up on my feed. During winter break, I realized I needed some serious self-care. I clicked on bunch of Buzzfeed Style articles because who doesn’t want to know 10 easy make-up hacks? As winter break started to wind down, I witnessed my Facebook feed turn into an aggregation of different fashion and beauty articles. I couldn’t get away from it. I ran to twitter and stuck with emails for few days. It’s like Facebook didn’t even know me! I’m the kind of a girl that wants a bargain on cute winter coats but also would like to know what is going on at the Senate confirmation hearings, read occasional think pieces, and long investigative pieces that I save for later, never to read again.
And now, I think Facebook gets me…better. I climbed out of the beauty news aggregation by clicking and reacting on news stories shared by friends. I know Facebook thinks that’s a big deal because I rarely react to stories. Slowly, I’m getting more hard news on my feed than before, and I find myself sucked back into comforting arms of Facebook algorithms. What can I say, we have a co-dependent relationship… I think.