How to train your Facebook Feed

Congratulations! You have a new Facebook feed, a wonderful digital pet! It will give you something to look forward to every day. But it's important to note, that a feed requires a little bit of care to keep it healthy and happy. If you neglect it, a feed can become more trouble than its worth. And there's nothing sadder than an abandoned feed.

Step 1: Connect with people whose posts you enjoy.
Every day, your feed will fetch you new posts from the people you're connected with. So make sure to add enough variety to your feed's diet to keep things interesting. But don't add too many! The more people you are connected to, the harder it will be to keep things under control.

Step 2: Unfollow people whose posts you don't enjoy.
Unfollowing is one of the best tools you have to rein in your feed. If someone is putting out poisionous posts, just unfollow them. They won't even realize it has happened, and your feed will be healthier for it. It also means you won't miss posts that you want to see but never get to because of all the garbage you'd have to sort through.

Step 3: Don't reward your feed for bad behavior.
Every time you interact with a post-- clicking on it, reacting with a "like", or commenting on it, your feed notices the attention and is trained to bring your more posts like that. So if it brings you something you don't like, avoid doing any of those things.

Step 4: Reward your feed for good behavior.
The flipside, of course, is that you can get more of what you like by patting your feed on the head-- commenting is an especially powerful treat, but likes and clicks also are rewarding.

Step 5: When your feed misbehaves, punish it.
If you click the ellipses (3 little dots) at the top right of a post, you can see options for how to punish your feed for bringing you a bad post. These include snoozing someone for 30 days, reporting the post to Facebook, and so forth. These punishments directly alter your immediate feed, but they also train it what not to do in the future.

Step 7: Limit how much time you spend with your feed.
Your feed will always fetch you what it thinks you will find most interesting first. This means that the more you scroll down, the more you get into posts it thought you wouldn't especially like. So just spend a few minutes with your feed at a time, and you'll both be happier for it.

Step 8 (and this is the most important one): Notice what effect your feed has on you.
Sometimes people click "like" because they want to signal they support a cause or the person posting. This is okay occasionally, but if you do it too much, it can make your feed sick. Soon, every post it fetches for you will be another cause for outrage, an unstoppable stream of things you think are important but you can't do anything about, leaving you frustrated, angry, and radicalized. What makes me happy is to see pictures of my friends and to talk with them about topics I think are interesting and cool, so that's what I try to train my feed to do.

When a community all have well-trained streams, new people joining the community will also quickly learn that their posts only get picked up when they are the sort of thing people want. This makes the whole community better.


tpmotd said…
How do I train it to stop showing me ads?
D said…
Ads are the poop in this analogy. Unpleasant but inescapable.

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