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Hotel Social Media and Home Blogging

If I want to know how you are doing, I go to your blog.  You may not post there anymore; you may be drawn to the quickness of Facebook or Twitter, throwing up your thoughts on various social media sites.  So, in that case, I probably don’t know how you’re doing.  I’m not being obnoxious and saying, “well, if you’re going to post on Facebook, then I’m not reading what you have to say.”  I’m just saying that Facebook controls their algorithm, and chances are, I won’t see your status update at all unless I click over to your wall.

It came out over the weekend that Facebook tweaked their algorithm to control what type of status updates you saw (if you were one of the 700,000 people studied) in order to control your emotions.  They wanted to see if they could upset you or make you happy.  And you allowed them to do this by accepting their terms of service, which implicitly state that they are allowed to study you.  So they studied you.  And they found that you could be manipulated.

I, obviously, include myself in that “you” since I am on Facebook.

As The Daily Dot reports:

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the paper reveals that Facebook conducted a massive experiment to determine the “emotional contagion” effect, by testing whether reducing the number of positive posts you saw on your news feed would make you less happy.

To do this, Facebook tweaked its algorithm to make sure some users saw primarily positive posts, some saw negative posts, and some saw neutral posts in their news feeds. They then waited to see whether the emotional content of the posts in users’ news feeds had any effect on what they subsequently posted.

The result? Yes, it totally does: The researchers, who were from Facebook, Cornell, and the University of California-San Francisco, all revealed that users who saw positive posts in their news feeds were more likely to post positive posts themselves, and those who saw predominantly negative posts were more likely to produce negative content.

The end result: if you felt upset during the time of that study and used Facebook a lot, you may have been made purposefully upset as a social experiment.  You may have spent time feeling like shit because some researchers wanted to see if they could make you feel like shit.

I’m not outraged.  I’m just… shrugging my shoulders.  They’re a jerk who continues to be a jerk, and we continue to date said jerk.  So what does that say about us?  I mean, at what point does it look ridiculous to sputter, “but he’s such a jerk!” and not leave?  Or utilize the site differently?

Facebook is a hotel.  I stay in hotels all the time, when it’s to my advantage.  When it gives me a place to keep my things when I’m visiting someplace away from home.  But I never confuse a hotel with my home.  I mean, a hotel is a hotel.  People have the right to come in and out of my room at the hotel.  I can’t change aspects of the room to suit me in a hotel.  I can’t demand new curtains or a different bed.  I take what I get when I go in a hotel.  When the hotel service is shitty, I complain or when it’s really bad, I don’t go back.  But that’s about all I have in my corner; the right to walk.

Whereas my blog is my home.  I own my blog because I self-host, but even if you rent your space via free blogging software, you have more control over your space than you do at Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or… every other site.  I don’t just put my things there; I make it my own, and I give people a place to find me and communicate with me.  You will always see everything I post here because I’m not tweaking an algorithm so you only see some posts and not others.

There are people who find living in a hotel less hassle.  Like the George Clooney character in Up in the Air.  He didn’t need his own apartment; didn’t have possessions that he needed to keep anywhere except in his suitcase.  And that is totally cool.

But if you are not really a live-out-of-a-hotel-room person, then you should not give up your blog.  You don’t need to write long posts.  YOU CAN MICRO BLOG IN YOUR OWN BLOG SPACE.  There is a blogger I used to read who wrote three sentence posts several times a day.  That was it: she took the concept of Twitter and utilized it in her own space.  Brilliant.  It took a few seconds to read her posts.  The comments tended to be brief too.  But she owned all of it.

I didn’t have to worry about an algorithm keeping some posts from me and giving me others.  I saw everything.

I am happy to jump from blog to blog in order to know definitively that I am seeing everything rather than having the flow of information controlled by a third party for their own gain.  Facebook has always controlled the flow of information — not just when they’re performing studies on us — making it difficult for people to see what they want to see vs. what Facebook wants them to see.  There are pages I’ve favourited that never show up in my feed.  And people who are on my Friend list yet their updates never pass over my screen.  I am already clicking over to see people’s walls so I can see all of their posts.  It would be much easier to have that information appear on their blog and flow into my rss reader.

I’m not giving up my Facebook account, but I don’t post things in that space that I care about.  All of those thoughts go here.  If you care about people seeing your thoughts, you should post them on your blog too.  Because people may see them as they float by on Facebook or Twitter.  Or they may not.  That’s the problem with hotel living; you’re at the mercy of the hotel owner.

And the hotel owner just proved himself to be a little sadistic.



1 Valery { 06.30.14 at 8:17 am }

(At least) One assumption is being made: that your emotional state corresponds with positive or negative content you put on Facebook. Of course it is possible to conclude an emotional reaction from this info. It is equally possible to conclude that people echo each other on FB, join the chorus they perceive without it influencing their emotional state.
(yes I’m a nerd, and no not on FB)

2 a { 06.30.14 at 9:38 am }

Well, I would not say that you control who sees your content any more than Facebook does. People can seek you out on either place if they want to know what you have to say. They can subscribe to your feed here, but the readers don’t always update promptly either. Maybe Twitter is a better venue? I guess there is an assumption of how the feeds work that is misleading.

3 Mel { 06.30.14 at 9:53 am }

But that’s a different sort of control. Yes, they have to come here to see the post, but on FB, they also have to come there with the purpose to see the post. But in one case, they will definitely see the post. And in the other, they will only see it if FB decides they will see it. Twitter vomits up everything, but unless you’re only following a handful of people, you won’t see what people say unless you leave it on all the time. As is, my front page changes completely every few seconds.

And an rss reader failing is a glitch, similar to FB being down, whereas the point of an rss reader is to deliver all posts. Whereas the point of FB is to curate the posts and decide for you what you will read.

4 andy { 06.30.14 at 12:17 pm }

Interesting. I only post what I want to post, things to share with friends and family, so I doubt I would be influenced to change how I post one way or the other. But I love your insight about blogs!

5 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 06.30.14 at 1:07 pm }

So first of all. Twitter. I only started with twitter when I realised you could put people in lists to help organise and control what you were seeing. Now, I believe Facebook has some functions like this but they seem to be about controlling how you use it, which is why they’re my least favourite. Google+ you can create different circles and control your exposure to each circle better. Of course, I’d still treat all posts as public there, even the ones you only share with particular circles. But what was my point?

Oh yes – I was going to say the same as Valery. But I was going to add that there’s a feedback mechanism between whining about stuff and actually genuinely feeling down. So it might start with you thinking, “Oh, apparently this is what we’re using Facebook for now MY GOODNESS AUTOCORRECT WHY DOES IT GET A CAPITAL LETTER” but then depending on how often you’re using it I think you could start getting yourself down after a few status updates.

6 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.30.14 at 6:03 pm }

Another brilliant analogy.

I saw news of and commentary about the Facebook study all over Facebook this weekend. The irony wasn’t lost. I can’t remember if I saw anyone discussing it on Twitter or G+.

Your latest series has me more aware of how I’m using social media, and what I’m willing to give up for the benefits it offers.

7 Laurel Regan { 06.30.14 at 7:52 pm }

I wrote a post awhile back about my blog being my home, so I totally get this!

Totally unrelated – I’m giving a quick re-read to “Life from Scratch” before I read both “Measure of Love” and “Apart at the Seams” (currently on order!) for the first time. I’m loving it even more the second time around, and can’t wait for the next two! 🙂

8 Mrs T (missohkay) { 06.30.14 at 10:19 pm }

Did you see this update about how FB’s terms of service were changed AFTER they already did the research? http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2014/06/30/facebook-only-got-permission-to-do-research-on-users-after-emotion-manipulation-study/

9 Amel { 07.01.14 at 6:08 am }

LOVE LOVE LOVE the analogy. This is what I’ve been feeling for a LONG time and I feel that I’m a freak for feeling that way when people keep getting more and more used to FB due to lack of time. So THANK YOU for the analogy.

10 Tiara { 07.02.14 at 1:52 pm }

This is very interesting. I had to step back from fb these last several months since my aunt passed because it hurt too much to be on there…seeing all the tags missing my aunt, being friended by all her friends, even seeing her friends’ posts showing they were moving on…it was all to much to take while weighed down by my own grief. To know that fb could intentionally direct negativity to my feed, that’s like kicking the dog while she’s down. Did they even consider how doing that could potenially effect any emotionally unstable person? I’m guessing not.

11 Battynurse { 07.03.14 at 6:28 pm }

Great post. Every so often I see a little something that reminds me I haven’t seen … On FB recently, but if that person has a blog I follow I will eventually (when I get caught up) see their posts.

12 Amber { 07.06.14 at 6:59 am }

I like the analogy, and it is so true. Facebook annoys me almost every time I’m on it for one reason or another, but it’s mostly because I can’t control my feed. I HATE that the timeline is always out of order, and it’s annoying that they control what I see. But yet I keep using it….

13 magpie { 07.23.14 at 3:50 pm }

mmm, well said. i sometimes go back through FB and scrape things off that should have/could have been a blog post…

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