I’m a member of several Facebook groups for whippet owners because looking at pictures of puppies and goofy photos and funny posts about these doggies lightens my day.

People also post photos and stories about their sick elder dogs, or eulogies for their recently departed, because of course they do.

And although I react to the funny and cute posts, I probably replied just a little bit more to people who were grieving because I’ve been there and know just how hard it is? And those people are hurting?

So gradually my Facebook feed had fewer and fewer of the cute funny doggie posts, and more and more of the tragic ones… giving me more opportunities to commiserate and fewer opportunities to laugh or otherwise acknowledge the cuteness.

And by now just about all the whippet posts I seem to get in my feed are the ones about sick and dying doggies.

I’m sure that similar things happen with posts about politics and society in general. We engage with things which most strongly activate us emotionally. So this is a reenforcing feedback system.

I’ve known this intellectually for a very long time, but I’ve been watching it unfold in slow motion in this one area in a very unmistakable manner.

I suppose we could game the system if we were very strategic and consistent about what we responded to, and how… but maybe not. But the upshot is that as they are currently constructed, social media engagement algorithms are not good for our mental health.

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It's funny, or odd, that my twitter experience is so different than most. Ever since I first joined (March 2009, per twitter) I have almost exclusively used one of the API based desktop apps (Tweetbot, Tweetdeck, etc), as they freed me from being dependent on my phone or an open browser window that didn't update dynamically. Consequently I've been able to see tweets only from those I follow, without ads or "for you" feeds. This option has shrunken lately, with twitter discontinuing API support for third party apps and its having bought tweetdeck, which I still use and still lets me see only those I follow. That list of who I follow grows, when it does, when someone like NH rt's someone I find interesting, or informative (hopefully both), and so I get to see new things without the intrusion of ads, etc. So: a recommendation for tweetdeck, I suppose.

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It appears your underfloor heating is not warm enough to fry that egg.

Thanks to "The Blind Giant" I became very conscious of controlling my on-line activities and sharing. I remain on Twitter and Facebook simply because there are people I value on those platforms and I have no other regular communication channel to these people.

Having been on a week long sales course run by a very big computer company back in the 1990s I became very aware of sales techniques and the ploys used to get the customer onto your selling cycle and off their buying cycle. The objective of all the training was to get the customer to realise they wanted to buy whatever you were selling whether they needed it or not. Social media simply accelerates the selling cycle aimed at the hapless user. It is not so much finding the customer who wants to buy your product as it is finding the individuals who are most likely to be susceptible to the sales techniques used to part these people from their money. The product is irrelevant.

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See also, the class-as-caste-meets-commercialism inner monologue at the heart of Dorothy L. Sayers's Murder Must Advertise

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"The stickiest of misery machines" oof, ya. Thanks as ever, these NH fragments are a welcome balm indeed

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Deep morning thoughts. Hopefully not too painful nor paralysing. The internet as void is a compulsive distraction which recursively returns you to the place which you’re attempting to escape contemplating. Maybe. Anyway, nice piece. Thanks.

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