You Are What You Click

Published February 25, 2021

When it comes to diet, you’ve probably heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” This can be a positive statement about someone who eats healthy. But it’s more commonly used in a negative light about someone who eats unhealthy foods. In today’s social media dominated world, a new phrase will rise: “you are what you click.” Unfortunately, it also warns against the unhealthy side of your online diet.

Person stares unenthusiastically at a spoonful of social media reaction icons (thumbs up, comment, heart, smiley face)

How could interacting with online content change you as a person? Online engagement isn’t going to change your physical appearance as much as the food you eat… Social media is affecting your mental health. New studies suggest social media usage is tied to increased risk of depression.

What can you do about it? Watch what and whose content you click on. The most dangerous part of social media isn’t the platform collecting your data. It isn’t the ads they target you with to bring in staggering amount of revenue from Facebook Ads. It’s how the platforms are built — or rather, how their algorithms are built. These algorithms are what decides the content you see first. These algorithms focus on showing you content it thinks you want to see. They want you to stay on their app or site as long as possible. How do they make these predictions? By tracking every click you make. Those algorithms know which accounts you engage with most. They know what subjects you have a higher probability of clicking based on your past clicks.

This isn’t to scare you, but rather to wake you up and empower you. You have control over how social media effects your mental health.  Yes, it will take a conscious effort to change your feed into a healthier environment, but it is possible! Unfollow people that post content that makes you feel bad. Start liking content that is positive. Pay attention to how certain posts make you feel. After all, you are what you click! So make sure those clicks are actually on things you want to spend time thinking about.

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