catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 13, Num 7 :: 2014.04.04 — 2014.04.17


Feed me

My husband and I have often joked that while we may come from different countries, we are actually cross-cultural in another, very important way: in high school, I was a nerd and he was a cool kid.  And sometimes high school still plays out in adulthood. I don’t mind. I’ve always enjoyed being nerdy.  But given our taken-for-granted social roles, you can imagine my shock and horror when it became obvious that Billy knows more about world history than I.

I don’t remember how it came up, but he kept referencing historical events about which I had little to no knowledge. “I don’t understand,” he told me. “Didn’t you study this in school?”  As it turns out, my only real memory from history classes involves Europe and the U.S. In Guatemala, Billy and (as he likes to put it) “the girls who did my homework” studied all that plus, you know, other parts of the world.

These days, I rarely watch the news. Partly because I’m not totally convinced it’s a good source from which to learn what’s happening in the world. Of course, I won’t argue that my alternative is superior.
Basically, I get all my news from Facebook. Something happens and before too long, all my thoughtful and brilliant friends share blog posts or articles and keep me up-to-date. I will admit, though, that there’s a delay.

Recently, however, I have realized there’s another weakness in this model. Most of my Facebook friends are more or less like me…in a lot of ways. And this means that when things “go viral” in my little subset of the Internet, there’s content cycling elsewhere about which I have no clue.

This reality became evident again recently while Billy and I were “hanging out,” meaning sitting next to each other both looking at our phones. Oh…is that not what you do? Really?

“What’s going on in Venezuela?” he asked me.

“I have no idea. Why are you asking me that?”

“My Facebook feed is all about Venezuela. Everyone’s praying for peace…changing their profile pictures.”

Naturally, I scurried to the BBC, where I do occasionally try to read the news. All it had was one small article: “Students are protesting in Venezuela.” That was basically it. And my Facebook feed would be silent about South America for a few more days.

Eventually, a couple of posts would pop up, like links to this article and this video. And I’ve been trying to keep up a little bit more about what’s happening. You can also read this post on BBC.

But I have been struck by how much my Facebook feed is now determining what I know about the world. It’s almost enough to make me start watching the news…or listening to NPR or something. After all, I gotta keep up my nerd rep.

How do you get your news? Do you find that your Facebook feed shares a lot the same types of information? 

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