An old school way to circumvent Facebook’s algorithm

Having just moved to a new city, I am meeting lots of new people, and some of them I add as friends on Facebook. But since I have never interacted with them before, I seldom see them in my news feed. Thanks, Facebook (not).

In addition, I have some relatives who seldom post anything to Facebook, and since the algorithm is focused on engagement, I never see their posts either.

Neither of these scenarios makes me happy. So I developed an old-school workaround.

Here is how I do it.

Basically, I just pull up the page for anyone I want to stay on top of, and then bookmark it to a folder in my bookmark bar that I creatively called “Facebook.” Then, whenever I want to check on folks (I do this once a week or so) I right click on the folder and then click “Open all”, which then opens all of those pages in new tabs. I look at each page briefly to see what, if anything, has been updated. I also make it a point to click “like” or comment on their recent posts, which will, theoretically, over time teach Facebook that I want to see their stuff.

You could also use this to keep track of family, or old high school friends whose updates you never see, etc.

Processing celebrity death

I was sitting at Waffle House, looking at my email while eating my breakfast, when The Huffington Post announced that Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul herself, had passed away.

We all knew it was coming. She had been in Hospice care for a few days and the internet gossip machines had her at death’s door for most of the last week. Her death wasn’t a surprise at all – in fact, we had all been expecting it.

But when I found out, sitting in that Waffle House on a sunny day, in good spirits, grief and pain washed over me like a wave. I literally felt pain and mourning for someone I did not know, had never met and who has had minimal impact on my life.

I loved me some Aretha, don’t get me wrong. Her genius and mark on the industry are undeniable, and even people like me who are not huge music people know who she was and can name at least a couple of her songs. But I don’t really understand my profound sense of grief over her death and it changing the entire tenor of my day.

I guess the thing I am wondering is, does the way I get the news affect how I process the news? If I had read it in the paper tomorrow instead of having it shared by a dozen of my friends, would it have changed my emotional response? As a depressive person, I know the least thing can set off a wave of emotional response – is there something about social media and how it functions that change the way we process our emotional response to things? And if so, is social media inherently bad for our mental health?