“But where will you get your news?”
That was a question I was asked yesterday, in response to my blog post earlier this week about my decision to leave Facebook.
The asker went on to say how much he enjoyed getting his news all in one place, filtered by his friends and people he trusted.
And that, I think, is bumping around one of the reasons I am leaving Facebook. All the news I get there is filtered by people I trust and hand select. If I support a woman’s right to abortion access and a friend doesn’t, I can choose to see less of the things she posts about that subject. And the worst part is, I do choose, often unwittingly, by the things I click “like” on, the things I comment on. Facebook learns what I am most likely to respond to, and serves me up more of that.
As a result, I see a lot of things I am likely to respond to, and less things I am not. The only way I would see more of the things my friend I disagree with posts is to comment on them, and since I disagree with her, the comment would likely be unfavorable.
Facebook has designed the system so the only way I can see more content from opinions different than mine is to fight with those people.
It’s madness. The only way to win this game is to not play it.
So, to answer the question: Where will I get my news?
I own a Kindle Fire (which is an amazing deal. For less than $50, you get a decent, fully functional Android tablet). The Washington Post has a super deal for Kindle Fire owners, where you get a six month subscription for $1, and it’s 3.99 a month after that. That is my primary news source right now. With a few missteps along the way, their investigative reporting is amazing.
But I am also sensitive to the danger of only having one source, so I subscribe to a couple of “news aggregation” emails, including the New York Times and Need 2 Know. They both send emails to my inbox every morning with top national headlines. (Need to Know is also good about sharing pop culture things, so I know what latest shenanigans Taylor Swift is up to.) I also subscribe to my local paper’s email updates, where they email me every morning with local and state level headlines. (These are all set up with an email filter, so they all go to a specific folder in my inbox)
So, every morning, I get up, drink my coffee and scan headlines from many different sources, with professional editorial voices at work. I read articles that interest me, and, wonderfully, I have no chance to argue with people I know.
Now, you can argue that this is “harder” than just logging on to Facebook and seeing what everyone else is sharing, and you are right – it requires more effort, at least in the beginning. You have to buy the Kindle, you have to pay for the subscription, you have to search out the email digests of various media (they hide them!), and then teach yourself how to set up email filters (assuming you don’t know how).
But in exchange, you get no drama, you learn things from sources you trust, you don’t have to wonder if this is fake news or satire or legit, and you probably have a better sense of what is actually going on in the world.