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Social Media is hitting the headlines again. The treatment of the Princess of Wales with conspiracy theories building up and a constant pressure for information through a time when she had specifically asked for patience and privacy has, according to the UK government, been fed by foreign interventions looking to cause fractures in our society and destabilise the UK.

Building on the many conversations about how the social media platforms need to do more to prevent trolling and how much social media has contributed to the feeling of polarisation in our world it feels like a really negative time for us all.

But I see a ray of light. I’ve not seen the conspiracy theories on my feed, what I have seen is the outpouring of support for the Princess since her announcement. Reflecting on that I find myself wondering if we, as ordinary people, actually hold part of the solution to all this negativity in our keyboards.

I’m an optimist. I genuinely believe that most people are good and want others to succeed. That’s been my experience of the world and some might say I’m unrealistic but I’ve benefitted so much from the support of the people around me both off and online that I’m confident it’s true. So why do the haters seem to shout louder? Why do we hear more from them?

The use of troll factories and now of AI is undoubtedly part of the reason but I find myself wondering what would happen if all us ordinary folks joined in a mission to make social media a positive place. If everytime a negative Facebook post looking to make us angry appeared we clicked on the exit button. If we refused to look, never mind engage with, the angry posts the algorithms would soon change because the social media platforms need our engagement to make their business plan successful. They need us. So why don’t we start to change the algorithms through customer pressure rather than wait for government action? Don’t get me wrong I’m sure that will still be needed because for the vulnerable in our society it’s often too hard to fight off the demons that appear on their screens.

So next time something appears on your screen and you can feel yourself reacting angrily why not take a deep breath and think about doing something differently? Scroll on past that post that’s deliberately trying to raise your blood pressure and move onto the dog overreacting to having it’s nails trimmed or the panda sneezing. Let’s force those algorithms to show us the good in the world for a while and break the hold of negativity that’s currently driving the algorithms. We’re not helpless so let’s not be persuaded that we are.

What do you think? Are we powerless in the face of algorithms? Or does customer power always win out?


Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

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