Technology imitates art and art imitates life– and sometimes they all imitate each other. The concept of a filter is one that reminds us of Facebook and Twitter, but really pulls differently from normal every day living.
If you live, your choices and opinions are filtered. Boundaries are set by a world trying to introduce the best possible concepts to the best possible subject at the best possible time. There’s so much product, content, and noise. There’s a million people to meet, a million places to buy radishes, a million ways to express an emotion. So, we filter, and we allow ourselves to be filtered.
We read the top five Facebook posts in our feed before posting something and looking away. We follow the news for our county, and when that’s too much, our region of the county, and when that’s too much, our city– and when that’s too much, our zipcode. Filters are useful when we remember that they are in place.
We let the filters fool us, though, if we’re not paying attention. It’s easy to forget that it’s raining 20 minutes away if you only ever look outside your door.
It is easy to let the filter become a self-fulfilling prophesy. We see someone’s posts more often, so we respond more often. We respond more often, so we engage more often. We engage more often, so we become closer to that person.
Which is good.
But what about that other person? The one Facebook doesn’t show you? The one you friended because you thought you’d like to see beyond the first door? The one whose page you’d have to visit directly to learn anything about?
Visit. Leave a message for them. Check in every day for a week.
Fool the filter.
Facebook doesn’t pour your cereal. Facebook doesn’t know you. Facebook isn’t the boss of you. Neither is Twitter, or the news media, or your college, or the signs on the side of the freeway.
There’s no need to step totally out of your wheelhouse, but maybe go to a different grocery store to buy your radishes. Stop and see a different face, or a different type of face. Stand for five minutes in an aisle you don’t normally stand in. Visit a type of shop where you don’t need or want to buy a single thing.
Go through your friend’s list on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and see what’s going on in their lives. Click through the people who follow your blog, or the people whose blogs you follow. One at a time.
Set the terms of how and when and why you engage. Create your own filters, because you are not an algorithm. You are a people.
Get to peopling.
BASIC HOW TO
- Visit 4 Facebook friends who you never see pop up on your list, set one to notifications that you see right away
- Follow 3 people on Twitter just because you like their name
- Stand in a grocery aisle that you never visit
- Drive a new way home
- Smile at a stranger.
ADVANCED HOW TO
- Tweet someone you haven’t had a direct exchange with on Twitter before, say hey.
- Respond to a newsletter you receive, or a blog post you read. Even if it’s someone who you don’t think will reply.
- Add a sentence or thought to a default introduction. Turn “Hi, my name is Radhika.” into “Hi, my name is Radhika but pretty much everyone I like calls me Rara.” Turn, “I’m a secretary.” into “I’m a secretary. I have the best boss in the world, and the squeakiest chair.”
- Engage on any platform– from Facebook, to text, to the workplace cooler. Ask a simple question, a 1 to 10– how is your day going so far? How much do you like cantaloupes?