Hi Folks! This trzftstekb
is a great piece in the Atlantic, about how the filters on our computers create a sort of feedback loop that can really distort our perceptions. In this case, the author, Sarah Kendzior, clicked on a single story of a child murder, and from then on she found that her home screen — in this case, Yahoo’s — kept bringing her more of the same. More child murder and really disturbing stuff. The algorithm assumed she just loved this kind of story.
The piece goes on to explain that we FORGET that content is being personalized for us. When we see it, it just looks like an assortment of interesting stories that happen to be “trending.” This gives us a skewed view that we don’t even realize is skewed. And when it skews to the scarier stories, we get….scared!
So it’s a great piece, and with a shout out to Free-Range Kids, what’s not to like?
I commented as much and when I did, I felt compelled to give a shout out of my own to another site, Mean World Syndrome. As that site explains:
Mean World Syndrome is a phenomenon where the violence-related content of mass media convinces viewers that the world is more dangerous than it actually is, and prompts a desire for more protection than is warranted by any actual threat.
How I love the guy who came up with that syndrome, the late sociologist George Gerber. When Yahoo and other filters bring us a world of meanness, we really have to come up with some way of reminding ourselves (and everyone else) that what’s happening in real life is different from what we see on the screen, even on our homey home screen. — L.