I recently read an article titled 8 Things Your Brain Does Wrong Every Day. The article states that “we naturally gravitate towards things that we agree with or that reinforce our existing beliefs.” This is never more apparent than when using social media.
Everyday we friend, follow, and add people to our networks who we know will validate our ideas. Transversely, we hide and unfollow those who challenge those ideas. Even which “news” channel we watch – Fox or MSNBC? – shows bias. We gravitate towards what we already agree with.
With that in mind, I decided to begin my impartiality experiment by purging my Twitter Feed and Facebook Timeline of bias. Mainly, this meant unfollowing liberal media outlets. Like most people, I use Twitter for most of my minute-to-minute news. Early yesterday I began unfollowing A LOT of my social network.
I said goodbye to Mother Jones, MSNBC, Rachell Maddow, DCCC, and other “liberal” groups. As I went along, determining whether groups were “liberal” or not became more difficult. Certain news outlets (Huffington Post, Buzzfeed) and journalists (Paul Krugman) were confusing. Biased or not? Other hard ones were Planned Parenthood and the Brady Campaign (A group pushing for stronger gun control legislation). These are nonprofits that liberals support, but does following them show a liberal bias?
Simply unfollowing the questionable users seemed like the best answer, except for one problem: Purging people from my timeline was really hard. I began to feel extremely guilty. By unfollowing “my network” am I revoking support and not being true to them and subsequently myself? I realized my political affiliations have become a huge part of who I am. Stupid as it sounds, I felt like I was denying a part of my identity by removing people I believed in from my newsfeed.
This stressful response surprised me. I did not expect to care that much about the purge. This was a testament to how much I identify with my social media. The irony, of course, is that none of these people know I exist, let alone care whether I am following them or not.
After tearing of the band aid, I think I was able to remove all bias from Twitter. I kept most the news outlets, but removed the political pundits and columnists. I kept following both Republican and Democratic politicians, although I may decide to unfollow them later.
I forgot to check, but I would guess I unfollowed about 15-20% of my newsfeed. I used my new Twitter feed during the Super Bowl, and I didn’t seem to miss anything – even caught Hilary Clinton’s Fox News zinger! Twitter honestly kind of seems less cluttered, but that could be my imagination.
I’ll update soon to talk about how I feel about my new unbiased Twitter feed.
Do you think purging Social Media of bias is a good idea? Would you ever do it? Let me know!