Pay Phone

The other day I took a trip to a park. Just to get out of the house for a bit and get fresh air. I walked around for a while. Then turned the corner of the drab gray brick building. On the wall rested an old familiar site. A payphone. I took a closer look. A broken payphone. It is rare to spot one of these anymore. I have not seen a working one in many years. But there sat a broken down old payphone. That still accepted coins. This is what people used before cellular phones came into existence. In order to talk to someone while out you had to locate a payphone; then dig through your purse, or pocket, for the correct change. The operator was big on a person having the correct change for the phone call. I even at one time got those prepaid cards for use at payphones. They had lots of fees and charges associated with them.

I snapped the picture with my smart cellular phone. Then I did what we all do now; I shared it with social media. I even came home and signed into Facebook. I updated my profile picture and then posted this picture with a comment. The thing of it was the profile picture got immediate reactions. The payphone picture; not one. I scratched my head. Then I remembered an incident a few years ago. I had just posted to Facebook and asked a relative if they had seen the post. They said “No.” I asked how that was possible. Only to be told, “It’s not in my feed. I dont see it.” They sent me a picture of their screen. I sent them one of mine. And sure enough it showed on mine and not on theirs.

So, I looked at my post and figured the same thing must have happened here. I posted. And it did not appear in anyones feed. Probably because it was the first thing I posted in a long time. I checked my feed. What stories appeared. Then looked at peoples individual pages. I liked a few things. Then went back to my feed. Sure enough more things started to appear. So my engagement with the social media influenced what I saw on the page. I checked into it. In their own documention Facebook admits that the posts I see in my feed are, “influenced by your connections and activity on Facebook. The number of comments, likes, and reactions a posts receives and what kind of post it is can also make it more likely to appear higher up in your news feed.” If I go through and like and comment on a friends posts on glitter; then I will see their posts on glitter high up in my feed. If I stop liking and commenting on a friends feed; their posts drop down, or even off, my feed. Other social media companies use similar algorithms on their feeds and recommended posts.

Our society is no longer reliant on payphones to communicate. Our news is no longer only gotten from newspapers, the nightly news on television, friends and family. We are connected twenty four seven to technology. To information. To stories and news feeds. If I start to look up or like posts about glitter. Soon my world on social media is glitter. I see nothing else. My entire world could then be about the good or bad of glitter. By the time that happens it could take a lot to break me out of the glitter cycle. Social media companies make a lot of money off our information. They want to keep us hooked on getting that information. Our daily fix of glitter posts. If they removed the algorithm and let all posts appear in the feed in the order they were posted; then a person could get a more balanced source of information.

*Anything can replace “glitter” in my example. I do not work for any social media company. Facebook is a trademark of Facebook. It is used here in an informational and educational manner. A criticism of their algorithm. Fair Use allows for such use of their name, and the quote in that case.

2 responses to “Pay Phone”

  1. Let’s see if I get this right. On the internet if I go look up something they follow me and then send me ads for such items targeting me. I noticed that the other day when I looked up something to do with guitar tablature and suddenly I get tons of ads about guitars. And then I noticed that if I read certain news stories or science stories (my interests) then I began getting lots of notices about such things and the news stories I got were about the things I had shown an interest in. I assume the internet companies are watching me…(I’m almost 80 and have little experience with this stuff so if I’m wrong please don’t laugh at me).. so then if this is what they are doing I end up getting information about certain topics and I end up with that type of information getting into my head. If this would continue then I would end up with information that supported my ideas and I could become a victim of selected information which long term would be able to separate the population into camps of people who are feeding from certain troughs of brain food… Like the far left people who believe everyone is entitled to health care and a decent wage so they can raise a family or like the Q believers who feed at the trough of conspiracy and fear. If the internet is feeding information based upon what it thinks my likes are it becomes easy to see how our world can become divided into camps who fear and hate each other. And I assume there are people making lots of money off this manipulation of people’s minds. Am I anywhere close to right?


    • Its called target marketing. It is also that I searched for glitter one day. Or I went onto Facebook and liked a bunch of glitter posts one day. Then the algorithm assumes I want to see more glitter posts, high up in the feed. The Internet marketing assumes I not only want to see glitter that I will want to buy glitter. All types of glitter. From everywhere. So it will shove that more and more at me. Even if I dont want that anymore.

      When it comes to the Internet you can clear history. When it comes to Facebook and other social media; you can simply stay off them. Or realize what they are doing and make an attempt to seek out information that is not all about glitter.

      Yes they make money off of it. It is called “making the shareholders happy”. Because it is not about the consumer, its about the shareholders and board of directors making as much money as they can.


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