Because I travel frequently, I download a lot of content. Most of the content I keep on my smartphone is video content from YouTube, which I treat as audio content. When I am traveling, I almost always have my headphones on, so I can block out the noise and listen to something useful.
YouTube (really Google) carefully monitors what you watch and updates its algorithm to bring you more of what you watch, or in my case, more of what I listen to. Watching or listening to five or six videos from the same source results in your recommendations filling up with more from that source, as well as similar content from other sources.
Last week, I watched several videos about project management software, only to find my recommendations full of software reviews, most of them around project software. Because my behavior suggested that I am interested in software, the algorithm provided more of the same. Later in the week, I searched for Steely Dan, one of the most original sounding rock bands of all time, and one with no less than a dozen hits. The algorithm not only served up more Steely Dan but also other classic rock bands.
If you search for partisan politics, the algorithm will show you more content designed to be politically divisive. A search for news will bring you a list of content to provoke you, news being highly sensationalized as a way to increase clicks and revenue. Paying attention to negative things brings you more of what’s negative. Paying attention to what is positive, optimistic, and empowering will bring you more of the same.
All you have to do to reset the algorithm is search for something and watch (or listen to) a video.
And now, we are no longer talking about YouTube or Facebook or any of the social media companies whose business model depends on your sustained attention and the ability to serve you what they believe to be relevant ads.
Instead, we’re now talking about your personal algorithm and the Drift. We’re talking about what beliefs and ideas you are willing to allow to infect you. Your mindset, your thoughts, and your beliefs are made up of what you consume.
Your algorithm is even more powerful than the technology that now provides you with a content filter that confirms your existing biases. Your algorithm has been finely-tuned by external forces, mostly without either your knowledge or consent. The constant barrage from your parents, your schools, your friends and peers, your culture, and all you have consumed have shaped your beliefs, including your ideas about what makes a good life.
You are, however, free to change the algorithm anytime you like. It is within your control, even if it requires intentionality and effort. The Drift doesn’t easily let you escape its hold.
If you are going to be programmed, then you should be the programmer. If you are going to be infected with certain ideas, thoughts, and beliefs, there is no reason not to seek out and choose the most positive, beneficial programming available to you, installing what has been proven to produce better outcomes and a better life.
You have to stop paying attention to what is harmful if you want less negativity. If you desire more positivity, then you have to focus on what’s positive. As Earl Nightingale said, “We become what we think about most of the time, and that is the strangest secret,” which doesn’t strike me as strange at all. How could it be otherwise?
What programs are you running? Whose programs are they?
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Filed under: Mindset