So you all are aware of the reports of Facebook doing a psychological study on its users right? Back in January of 2012 they manipulated people's feeds showing them more negative posts or more positive posts to see how they would react. Was mood contagious, basically. I find this to be fascinating. And yes more than a little diabolical on the part of Facebook. Making people lab rats without their knowledge is pretty shady. But the only way to do such an experiment is without their knowledge so though I don't really agree with them doing it, I am still fascinated by the fact that they did.
And of course one of the things I did was go back and re-read all of my January 2012 posts to see if there was any indication I had been part of the experiment. I would have been especially interested to see if I was one that had been subjected to more negative posts and how that would have affected me. My findings were that I was either completely unaware they were tailoring my feed or, more likely, they weren't. My January 2012 posts were about college football, NFL, hockey, the Republican primary candidates and general food, cat, kid, weather posts. So basically the same as always. Just take out the political posts and it was probably the same as any other January. Oh well.
I've written about this before. Here, here and of course here. Interestingly enough (to me anyway) the first blog was January 2011 and it speaks specifically to not seeking out things that make you mad. Maybe someone at Facebook read that and thought...but what if you made you see them? What then? Maybe it was my blog that started the whole thing? Yeah, no. But still interesting to me.
Because as you all know from reading those posts, and status updates, and knowing me, that I fully believe that happiness is something we choose. If I had been in the group that was subjected to a ton of negative posts I have to imagine I would have logged off. I know that mood is contagious. It's one of the choices I make. I don't surround myself with people who make me mad. I don't seek out things that are just going to piss me off. Sometimes it's not easy. People post things that set your teeth on edge. Sometimes I type out a full response before I realize what I am doing. Then delete...why send it? Why engage in something that is just going to make everyone mad but solve nothing?
That's not to say at times I don't. Sometimes the rhetoric spewing is too much for me so I poke at it. Because that can be fun as well. But as soon as it stops being fun I stop doing it. And aside from being fun I still hold out hope that maybe someplace there will be something I say that sneaks in and grows in someone's mind. Helping them to see a different point of view. They don't have to change their minds, but opening up to the acceptance that another point of view is something to be valued at times instead of belittled? Awesome. And there are the times where I feel silence might make someone think I condone something. Or at least it feels to me like something needs said. If it's something I am passionate about, I post that as well. Though even then it has to be something I am feeling very strongly about to get an open status. Otherwise I have a blog for such things...
So here is my upcoming issue. I already see it brewing. I have another year maybe year and a half before it hits the peak of awfulness. The next presidential election. Especially if Hillary Clinton does run (which we are all pretty sure she will) I just see Facebook becoming a place I avoid. The vomit that spews forth about her is astounding to me. Worse even than what I hear about Obama. Worse than what I heard about George W. It's like each successive group has to top the previous one in vileness. You called George W dumb? Well fine, we will call Obama a traitor! You called Obama a traitor, well wait until you see what we call Clinton! It's crazy to me. Just flat out crazy. And vile. And unreasonable.
Politics makes me angry. And the main reason it makes me angry is people are so busy mounting personal attacks on politicians that they pay no attention to what is actually happening. And when they do pay attention, they pay attention in the wrong way. Passionate is great. Vomit spewing is not. Wanting to actually change the broken things in our system, wonderful! Just wanting to post over and over about how the other side is just as broken because... Not great. And I see it coming. Already. And I know that I will choose to not be involved.
So I have a stretch of time to figure out what I am going to do. Though I think Facebook might have given me the answer. I will control what I see and how it affects my mood. Not by manipulating my feed but by turning it off.
Thanks, Facebook, for the reminder. Mood is contagious. Whose are you willing to expose yourself to?