Martha Burrows pic

Martha Burrows

How have we become so intolerant of diversity? Have you said the words “how can they be so stupid” when referring to a view outside of your own? How can we have over 600 “friends” on social media but the suicide rates continue to increase due to depression and loneliness? Well, those and other serious questions were addressed in a Netflix documentary called “The Social Dilemma.”

I’m lucky enough to be in the age group of people that experienced most of my childhood life without social media. Cell phones were given to us around the age of 10-13 and they didn’t have the capabilities they do now. We could text but every time I hit the limit dad would send the most dreaded message saying so. MySpace was really cool when I was in the fifth grade. So much so that I risked my life by going against my parents’ wishes to create a profile which was later discovered by my dad. Obviously, I survived (barely) but even that wasn’t accessible on my Nokia flip phone.

The point I’m making here is that we made it out of childhood before it was taken from us. Today’s children are dying at increasing rates due to suicide and depression. They are purchasing “likes” to give a false sense of acceptance and finding their worth in these apps. Sadly, children aren’t the only ones falling prey to social media, we all are.

The Social Dilemma interviews many tech engineers that were a part of the creation of these huge tech giants like Facebook and Pinterest and ask them about how it works and the problems they see with these programs and their answers are shocking. Basically each site is constantly collecting data on every single thing you do from how long you look at an ad to which types of videos you get sucked into watching and which things you don’t. After a while, your feed becomes a custom space just for you and we think that’s nice, right? Wrong. You are now in a comfortable space with people who think just like you and you watch videos and news clips that only agree with your views and slowly you start to think that’s not only the right way of thinking, it’s the only way.

Then when you happen to read a post from Dick or Jane that goes against these views you think “gah, how can they be so stupid” but the reality is the news and articles they are being shown are agreeing with these views and it’s things you have never even seen before or been suggested to see. Now when we are talking about things like cat videos it’s no big deal, but when it’s political propaganda it’s slowly dividing us more and more until eventually one engineer says it will lead us straight to a civil war.

So what can be done? If you’re one of those brave people willing to delete your social media outlets then do that. If not, make sure to start liking news outlets or watching videos that go against your normal views to make sure your news feed remains balanced. Also, start talking to people more outside of social media like in waiting rooms or coffee lines or break rooms.

God made each of us so unique and we need that diversity to continue being accepted before it is no longer an option. Love on your neighbors, don’t make assumptions about people, when you have an opinion ask yourself why, find friends with opposing views and challenge your thinking. Whatever you do, don’t be a victim of false community.

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