With the advent of the internet, the availability of almost anything you can think of is only seconds away. Whether it’s a recipe, directions, homes for sale, or a digital copy of the encyclopedia, you can pretty much find anything you’re looking for in a matter of seconds.
Social media, being part of this internet revolution, has been one of the most amazing components of this revolution. In one application, you are able to keep in touch with a massive network of friends, family, and co-workers like never before.
In what seems like an eternity ago, you once had to actually pick up the phone and schedule a time to meet. Now you can creep on someone’s social media feed and monitor their lives in real-time.
Why actually call someone when you can just check their Instagram and Facebook for all the questions you have?
The past few months I have been working hard to cut back my social media usage. As part of this process, I have deleted all social media apps (except Twitter), and access my profiles through the web. The more I tracked what I am spending my time following, the more I realize I am killing brain cells and wasting valuable time.
Along with the useless photos, videos, and news articles I’ve consumed, The Four work tirelessly to ensure we are fed sufficient advertisements to further steal your time. Among “The Four”, it’s Facebook and Google that spend the most time attacking the rest of your spare time.
I would wager that Google and Facebook know more about you than your family does.
With this detailed knowledge about your desires, wants, and dreams, they bombard you with wave after wave of products and services to hopefully convince you to make a purchase.
Now I could care less about the type of jeans Facebook convinces you to buy, I am instead concerned about the media, content, articles, and news outlets they think are relevant to you.
With this deep understanding of how your brain works, Google and Facebook send you an endless barrage of other (similar) content sources for you to consume. The overwhelming rush of media and news leads to an issue we have to keep an eye on.
This issue is what we call confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias is essentially spending all of your time and energy only consuming content that agrees with your existing beliefs.
Source: Farnam Street
If we use the economy as an example, this can be seen quite easily.
Let’s assume you are concerned about an economic recession. A quick trip to Google or Facebook will land you right in the middle of a dozen writers concerned with the same thing.
Literally, searching the words “economic recession” in either of these platforms brings about the end of the world.
It’s scary but you can search just about anything and make it become true. Try searching your symptoms when your sick, or something about your political views, the platforms then fuel your confirmation bias to the point of no return.
My point with this article is simple and I’m going to repost the quote at the very top.
Facebook, Google, and almost all media sources out there are simply yes men, aiming to agree with whatever the hell you want to think about that day. Your price for this agreement is that hopefully, you buy something from whoever bought the ad.
None of these platforms are in the business of economics, asset management, financial planning, or retirement. These media companies are paid on advertising dollars, so whoever pays the highest amount gets to determine what is seen the most. It is up to you to take the time to understand where your content is coming from and if it really affects your financial and investing decisions.
Nobody is going to control the amount of garbage floating around the web. Instead, we have to construct strong filters for rejecting bad content. Our goal is to make the best, unbiased, decisions we possibly can. So spend as much time as you can evaluating all of the facts, not just the ones that agree with you.