I have just finished reading Dave Eggers’ novel, The Circle. It makes for terrifying reading. First published in 2013, it looks at how a company called ‘The Circle’ (which could easily be Facebook or Google), begins to take control of all aspects of life, arguing that everything should be transparent to achieve truth. As an avid user of Facebook, the book scared me; a lot of what was covered was a little too close to home.
It reminded me of an article that I read recently, which stated that due to Google and Facebook algorithms, we are shown more of what we want to see. If we are interested in politics, Facebook will suggest related articles. If you are more interested in style, you are less likely to hear about what is going on in the world of politics but will be directed to an article on how to put together the ultimate work wardrobe. The internet creates a picture of us via our purchases/ the pages we follow/ the things we tweet and feeds us the information we want to see. I’d like to think that I want to be challenged, I want to have the chance to be introduced to snowboarding even though I don’t know the first thing about it. I want to develop new interests and meet people who challenge my views. It’s the news equivalent of fast food and the implications are terrifying.
This all hit home recently on the the recent BREXIT debate. I voted to stay in, my friends all voted to stay in, and most importantly, everything on Facebook was showing me a community that all agreed. And yet the unthinkable happened. The majority voted out. I was in shock for days/weeks even. How could I not have seen this coming? Surely everyone realised Nigel Farage was a liar. That leaving the EU would not reduce the number of immigrants from Nigeria. I have to question whether I was simply being shown what I wanted to see. How can this be good for us a society? How can we stand up for what we believe in if no one hears our voice? If no one disagrees with us, how can we challenge them or put our own point across. Equally, if you are narrow minded with your beliefs, how can your eyes be opened to the possibility of embracing everyone despite their race or religion.
How can this be considered the truth? So make sure you engage. Don’t limit your knowledge of the news to what pops up on Facebook. Do your research before making choices. Engage with people, all kinds of people to hear lots of different opinions and share your own. Needless to say, I shall be limiting my Facebook time from now on.