More than a billion people use Facebook. Facebook says that the average US user spends 40 minutes per day on the platform. 40 minutes reading and interacting with posts, photos and Facebook messages—every single day! There has arguably never been a more powerful force for social impact in human history.
We used to hang out in the town square. Some of us used to spend hours a week with our church community. Now, many of us are spending that precious time wandering the blue, virtual hallways of Facebook.
Spending that amount of time doing anything is bound to shape you, but with Facebook the shaping isn’t accidental. Facebook recently admitted to experimenting with people’s feeds with the intention of altering their moods. (See reporting in The Atlantic, The Guardian, The New York Times, and Slate.com.) Facebook learned that by altering the general mood of the posts they show, they could directly impact the mood of the user! Scary, huh?
But even if Facebook wasn’t doing this kind of large-scale social manipulation, the time we spend on Facebook (any social media, really) will impact us. What we see there will shift our emotions, subtly altering our thinking.
This is happening. The Facebook algorithm that determines what posts you can see is already impacting you this way. Those silly memes, political rants, passive aggressive vaguebook posts, and all the pictures of everyone else’s’ best moments are shaping how you feel about yourself and the world. Anything that impacts your mood will also impact your relationships.
Something else is happening, too. It may seem crazy to say, but it’s true. The Facebook algorithm is impacting your personal and spiritual growth.