Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Monday Musing: Being Limited


We live in a world that is being increasingly sorted. Whenever I log into Facebook, the same posts from the same people just keep popping up to the top of my feeder, never mind that I already saw it on Friday morning…and Saturday afternoon…and night…and yesterday, and never mind that I didn’t comment or like the post. If I scroll down, past four or five other things I’ve already seen half-a-dozen times, posts from other people are sprinkled in, even though they’re newer than the stuff that keeps floating to the top. There may be a way to change this. I need to remember that Facebook has a tendency to change settings at a whim and without warning.
Facebook, I believe, is showing me what it thinks I want. These are mostly people with whom I’ve interacted a lot in the past, so I must want to see what they’ve got to say, right? Maybe it thinks I’ve forgotten to comment and like the post, so it’s going to hit me with it over and over until I do, I don’t know, but it’s annoying.
It’s this way all over the internet. Look at a book on Amazon and there’s a menu that says, “People who bought this also bought…” On Netflix there’s a category called, “Because you watched [insert film/show name here]”. The cash register at the supermarket spits out coupons for products similar to the ones I bought (but rarely for the products I actually buy—my cats eat Friskies, not Nine Lives, and if I tried to feed them Nine Lives, they’d either snub it or throw it up all over the carpet).
From a marketer’s perspective, this makes sense. I haven’t read any studies but I expect targeted marketing has a much higher return on investment than the shotgun approach. As a consumer, we don’t have to wade through so much stuff that’s not of interest to us. Still, I can’t help but wonder what we’re losing with all this. The internet makes it so much easier to discover things so far out of our normal ‘zone’—why allow ourselves to be limited?

14 Responses

  1. I always have to change the Sort:Most Recent on Facebook, sometimes even when I was just there! But yeah, anytime the owner of the status responds, the whole thing will move up the chain. Sometimes I'm glad, other times not so much.

    The ads that get me are the ones I get for stuff I already bought – and from them, too! Then there are the ads I get from doing research on my novel. No, I don't want to buy a boat, I just wanted to see one so I could describe it! No, I don't want to buy a generator, but my character has one and I needed to know how long they lasted. I know it all has to do with those annoying cookies, but still…

  2. Sometimes showing us what we might like is a good thing. I've bought books that have been recommended because it turned out that I liked it. But I do get how the volume can be annoying.

  3. I'm planning on joining one of these days so I'll have to figure it all out then 🙂
    I don't mine some suggestions, but I fell completely inundated by so much of it!

  4. It makes me feel like I'm being stalked. If it wasn't such a pain, I'd go dump all my cookies and clear those visits from online memory.

  5. I'm tired of seeing the same things pop to the top. Just now, I saw something rise up that last had activity 22 hours ago–and I've seen it at the top of my feed like four times! Bleaargh.

    I must be some kind of FB idiot, but I can't find anything to sort the posts with–where is that?

  6. Yes, it can be, yet I feel like we're more and more willing to let other people (or machines) do the thinking for us, and it bugs me.

  7. Every day I fantasize about quitting Facebook, but can't bring myself to do it. Sigh.

    When I was messing around in my settings, I noticed that I had "hidden" a whole bunch of people, which explained why I never saw their posts. I don't remember ever doing this, but I unhid them, and now I see what they're up to. I also changed my news feed to show "recently posted" instead of "top stories" which helped as well.

    But one day, I swear I will have a Facebook-free life… that being said, I did send you friend request, haha!

  8. I 'hid' one person, because they were bombarding the world with posts, and pictures, pictures, pictures to a ridiculous extent. But thank you, I finally found where to change the setting in my news feed–silly me, thinking it would be with all the other settings under settings!

    I did get your friend request. I just act veeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrry slooooooowwwwwwwllllllllllllyyyyyyy on them.

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