Reading this article about how the “short-term, dopamine driven feedback loops” created by social media giants are killing normal discourse, it makes me wonder how to fix it. Maybe if Facebook, Twitter, etc limited people to a maximum number of friends/followers, it would introduce a check in the system.
I normally use Twitter, so I’ll use their terminology for this. Let’s say everybody can only follow 500 people, and that they can only be followed by a maximum of 500 people. By limiting the number of people you follow, your diet of tweets is limited only to those Twitterers. That extra cute video of your kitten playing with a puppy can still go viral, but it’ll take longer to happen.
With a maximum limit on who we follow and who can follow us, we’re forced to do some picking and choosing. I think most people would follow close family members and allow the family members to follow them, and there would probably be something similar with coworkers (or maybe not). But for the rest, who would you follow? Politicians? Celebrities? Athletes? Artists? Conversely, who would you let follow you? Former classmates? Fellow hobbyists? Advertisers? Co-religionists?
Do you follow someone who seems to have gone off the rails and started relentlessly tweeting about pigeons? You can unfollow him. Do you follow an aunt who never tweets, ever? Unfollow her and follow someone more interesting.
Introducing maximum limits into social media would be an equalizer, since the cashier at the deli around the corner could have the same number of followers as the leader of the country.
Just a thought.
A year or so ago I read about a challenge where some people in the UK tried to live on £1 a day for five days. This is the level the World Bank sets as the level of extreme poverty. Nearly 1.2 billion people around the world live in conditions of extreme poverty. In the US it equates to about $1.50. I found out about the challenge too late to participate last year, but this year I’m going to give it a go.
Coincidentally, this morning I read that Gwenyth Paltrow will be taking the Food Stamp Challenge. The Food Stamp Challenge is similar, but it sets the bar at about $30 for seven days, which is what a family in the US would have to live on if they relied on food stamps. Both challenges are meant to draw attention of people living in poverty, though Live Below the Line is an organized attempt to raise money for charities fighting conditions of poverty.
While I’ve never lived in conditions of extreme poverty, I remember we used to be on food stamps when I was a kid, and as an adult, there have been times when I was unemployed and wondered where my next meal was coming from. This gives me reason enough to try and help. The challenge takes place from April 27th to May 1st.
It’s not going to be a true challenge. People who live in extreme poverty have to use that money to pay for food, shelter, clothes, healthcare, transportation, sanitation, and so on. For me, the challenge will just pay for food. I already have clothes and health insurance. I don’t have a car, so I don’t have to worry about that cost. My rent, which isn’t exorbitant, runs about $18.50 a day. Since I don’t plan on living on the streets those five days, it’s not a real challenge, in my opinion. However, I plan on blogging and showing what $1.50 a day buys in the US. The answer is not much.
This morning I was awoken by a fire alarm. Today is Sunday, so I wanted to sleep in. However, I heard people talking in the hallway outside my apartment, and I smelled smoke. I got up, put on some shoes and a winter jacket, grabbed my cell phone, and went outside. I saw many firemen. My neighbor’s apartment door was open. I knew I wouldn’t be able go back inside for awhile, so I walked to Starbucks.
我是查理 (wǒ shì Chálǐ) means Je suis Charlie or I am Charlie. While I never heard of Charlie Hebdo before yesterday, I believe freedom of the press is a requirement for a vibrant democracy.
My thoughts and condolences got out to the family and friends of those killed in Paris yesterday.