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It’s not just Facebook. Many advertisers and Internet platforms keep records of what you like. What you’ve bought, what you’ve searched for, what you’ve clicked on; they have records of all that and send you more of it. That’s why companies will pay for data on your shopping habits and Internet use. They can use it to send you more of the same.
You got a problem with that? Let’s look a little deeper. On Facebook, you can find lots of beautiful, creative, inspiring, amazing, funny stuff. You can also find horrible, frightening, sad and evil, and a ton of stuff that’s just stupid and boring.
Just like life. Good and bad; it’s all there. But on the Internet, whatever you ’re drawn to, whatever you respond to or like, the programs will send you more of. The things you click on, you will receive over and over. If you respond to posts that make you feel bad, you create more opportunities to feel bad.
Is life the same way, or isn’t it? Some people believe it absolutely is. It’s called the Law of Attraction and came from the “New Thought Movement” started in the USA in the 19th Century. The Law of Attraction holds that whatever you think about and believe is likely to come to you, because both thoughts and material reality are forms of the same energy, which is God.
The Law of Attraction is one of the most criticized and scorned theories ever formulated. New Thought believes the whole world is in your mind, which is a manifestation of the one universal mind. Your thoughts make you sick or well, rich or poor. Or as they put it: “Our mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become our experience in daily living.”
How crazy is that? Is a child born into poverty because of low-income thoughts? When did he or she have these thoughts, in a previous life? If I decide to live in a mansion in Marin and keep focusing on that, can I make it happen?
I doubt it, but I haven’t tried. I’ve been thinking the thoughts I think. Perhaps to a degree, life does imitate Facebook. I don’t believe our thoughts are powerful enough to bring wealth, but people will tell you stories of how they got rich just that way. Can thoughts overthrow oppressive empires? I don’t believe it’s ever happened, but how do I know what causes empires to fall? Perhaps thoughts can help bring peace. When it comes to happy or sad, peaceful or agitated, lonely or loved, thoughts are powerful indeed.
All the horrible things are out there with all the wonderful things. This is undeniable. You decide what gets your attention. When you start to notice positive things, you will see more and more of them. If you feel unloved, everyone who passes you without a glance will confirm that lonely feeling. If you start noticing others’ generous actions, you may feel more loved every day. The secret there is learning to love yourself. Your thoughts really do make you lonely or loved, because loneliness and loved are thoughts themselves.
Say you’re struggling with a drinking problem. The Law of Attraction would say your struggle with drink brings you more of it. You’re clicking on the wrong thing. Better would be to develop other more positive habits and let the drive to drink fade. Although Alcoholics Anonymous would certainly disagree, you can find dozens of stories of people who quit alcohol this way with a Google search.
Does the Law of Attraction (aka the Facebook law) work in real life? We don’t need it to explain most of what happens to us. Happy and sad, healthy or sick may just be a combination of habits and life circumstances, which could be social or genetic.
Things happen that make me wonder, though. For two years Aisha and I have been living without a roommate, at considerable expense.We’ve been burning through savings because of having been abused by a pair of deadbeat former roommates and have been reluctant to try again. We’d been talking frequently about our situation.
Last week, out of the blue, Macon, a former resident of the building whom we loved, contacted me (on Facebook!) to ask if we still had a room available. The set-up seems like a perfect match. Macon is a great cook, so our place will be smelling delicious from now on.
Perhaps life does imitate Facebook sometimes. The program of life may send you what you give your attention to. Don’t click on the things that hurt you. There’s better stuff out there.
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Dear David, wonderful to see the happy ending to the roommate situation! I do agree, at least sometimes, with this theme. A relative constantly complains and bemoans unsatisfying relationships with others in the family. I am content with what others give and don’t demand more. To her, that makes me cold and distant. To me, she is (to mix your metaphor) clicking on an open wound.
The problem is that Facebook doesn’t measure value, just hits. Van Jones says that’s key to understanding Trump, whom he calls the first social-media candidate. His point (Jones’s) is that it doesn’t matter to Trump whether people agree with him, just that they notice him. A winner on Facebook has a lot of “followers,”–which means people who see the winner’s posts, not people who agree with the winner.
I found this blog quite interesting. How you wove two very different on the outside experiences and showed how they are actually similar. The other item on how Facebook keeps us in a daily diet of what is wrong with the world and the people in it was something that l again enjoyed, keep up the good work my brother.
I just read an essay about how slaves in the USA may have contributed to the end of slavery with their prayers and dreams of freedom. Speaking of his slave ancestors, the author said, “They dreamed us into being.” Maybe they did. It’s a lovely thought.