The “Like” Diet: Join Me for Coffee?

I wish I had taken “before” and “after” pics of my Facebook newsfeed. I honestly did not expect to see changes in the content and quality of the feed so quickly; I wasn’t sure two weeks would be enough, let alone two days. If it hadn’t been for my friend Alice’s post, I might have chalked it up to the fact that I had recently been on vacation in Maine, with very limited cell and WiFi coverage. I’ve probably had fewer opportunities to “Like” anything, lately, although I tried to “Like” just enough to let people know that I wasn’t dead.

In fact, I was very much alive and having a great time at York Beach, hiking a rocky cliff-side path, looking for baby crabs in the tide pools, trying not to fall down on the wiggly bridge, enjoying a shady walk through the woods, and even taking a dip in the icy northern Atlantic – which is nothing like the clear, tepid, calm water near Miami.

So, what differences have I noticed on Facebook since starting this “Like” Diet? For one thing, my newsfeed seems much more relevant and human. And by “human,” I mean that I am suddenly seeing more posts from the friends I converse with in comments, and fewer from the people whose posts I merely nod at and “Like,” as well as far fewer posts from media outlets and corporate entities. There was still a post from Hubspot, this morning; apparently, nearly 50 friends of mine had “Liked” it, so Facebook’s still assuming I will, too.

Others have joined us and started noticing similar results. A few have even commented with a link to the article that actually started these “experiments”: I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me. If your newsfeed has become a place of constant conflict and emotional manipulation, consider this observation from the article:

As day one rolled into day two, I began dreading going to Facebook. It had become a temple of provocation. Just as my News Feed had drifted further and further right, so too did it drift further and further left. Rachel Maddow, Raw Story, Mother Jones, Daily Kos and all sort of other leftie stuff was interspersed with items that are so far to the right I’m nearly afraid to like them for fear of ending up on some sort of watch list.

Are we really as partisan and polarized as we think we are? Are we being manipulated into it by a computerized algorithm? Maybe we should start talking to each other again – start commenting about why we like and dislike each others’ posts – instead of merely clicking a button and assuming the world is nothing but extremes.

Even more troubling, when you think about it, is The Troubling Link Between Facebook’s Emotion Study and Pentagon Research. It’s one thing to be “the product,” but quite another to realize – with certainty that goes beyond some wild conspiracy theory – that you are a guinea pig in a government and corporate field experiment.

Unfortunately, this research – as is the case with most scientific and technological advances – is valuable and has plenty of positive potential. But it has enough nefarious possibilities to keep Hollywood and a stable of writers happy for generations to come.

WE are being used.

And of course we could shut off all our devices and go back to using snail mail; the USPS, for one, would likely be thrilled to hear it. Imagine getting actual letters, hand-written on dead trees, from friends. Some of you may be too young to remember ever seeing such a thing.

Excuse me while I ponder that.

That’s probably not going to happen. I’m certainly not ready to close my Facebook account and say “Never again!” and no matter how outraged or incensed you may feel about it, I doubt that you are, either. And if not Facebook, then Google. Or your ISP.

Just think about it, be aware of it, and consciously choose what to share.

I think I’ll go tell Facebook I’m a cannibal and see what happens.

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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7 thoughts on “The “Like” Diet: Join Me for Coffee?”

  1. Yep big brother is here! I’ve always found it quite impressive and a little alarming how quickly the adverts on FB and Google change to reflect my latest email or post. Are we being used? I guess so, but then on the other hand perhaps it’s the price we pay for free social media. If people stop liking posts I’m sure the marketeers will find another way to bombard us with things we need and want to buy πŸ˜‰

    1. Oh, no doubt they’ll make adjustments. It’s like idiot-proofing things: a pointless exercise, because every time you think you’ve got it idiot-proof, someone builds a better idiot. Nonetheless, it does seem to be helping for now, and it’s kind of fun to screw with FB – knowing how they screw with us – isn’t it? πŸ™‚
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…The My Profile

  2. I’d like to drop heavy hints in Facebook I’m a ninja turtle interrupted. Let’s see what Facebook makes of that.

    It’s a touch and go for me – not liking everything that moves in Facebook. Yes, you can dock me for not wanting to make my friends anxious that I don’t like them anymore somehow. Sometimes, I feel proud of myself at some stretch where I gave the Like button a wide berth; other times, I caught myself clicking it by rote and I berate myself for being weak, a creature of habit.

    In Twitter at least – where I publicly swore off using emoticons and handy acronyms to denote laughter, I have to this day stuck to my guns. I don’t see why I can’t wean away myself now from clicking that needy button, especially now that doing so has done your Facebook experience a world of good.

    Incidentally, I promised a common friend not to tell you “they” have liked a comment I made in their update. Suffice it to say, that the common friend had promised to follow your lead in steering clear of the FB Like button. But I didn’t tell on them, did I? I just shared it. Win-win.

    1. ROFL!!! What do they think I’m going to do, unfriend them for falling off the wagon? Tell them I liked at least a dozen things the first day, and have caught myself at least twice today. But that’s still down from indiscriminately liking every damned thing, as if my friends all needed that much validation.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…The “Like” DietMy Profile

  3. That’s really quite interesting and relevant. Often I want to “like” a friends post just to let them know I saw it but don’t really want to see such things too often. I wonder how many things I would like to see are being hidden based on some facebook desire of what they want me to see. Think of the power of Facebook to impact millions of peoples feelings and outlook daily.

    1. Todd, try it for a couple of days. You may be utterly amazed. I was. I now find my newsfeed USEFUL. Before, I actively avoided it, to be honest, and expected friends to come over to MY wall if they wanted to share or talk. I only saw what I got in notifications, most days. I have to retrain myself to USE the Home page now that it’s a pleasant place to be.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…The “Like” DietMy Profile

  4. As you know, I gave it a shot. After the first two days, where you mentioned that leaving a comment and liking wasn’t the right way to go, I then started just writing comments.

    Initially it didn’t work well; I saw a lot more hate stuff in my stream than I expected to. After that the biggest thing I noticed was that I was seeing things from people I couldn’t ever remember seeing things from before, but their stuff wasn’t any better than the stuff I’d been seeing. I actually kept doing that for 2 weeks. Then one day I saw something from someone I hadn’t seen anything before, responded, she didn’t quite like my response because I didn’t understand her question, we had a brief back and forth, and now we no longer are connected to each other anywhere. Then I got off for a few days.

    Not sure what happened or why, but in the end I can’t necessarily say I liked it, and I kind of like Facebook even less at the moment.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…September 11th, 2001; 13 Years Later…My Profile

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