Design your feed. Protect your mind! – Influence what influences you!

Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are!

My primary school teacher used to tell me this when I spent more time hanging out with the *bad boys* instead of investing extra time in my French and geometry homework. While I am not convinced he was right about that, he was definitely right about the fact that you can control who influences you and to what degree.

It is a fact that only a part of us is genetically predetermined and a large part of who you are today, you have picked up along the way from people you have encountered and looked up to in one way or another.

Today, we say, you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Ever heard this one before?

If you have researched anything in self-development at some point in your life, you must have come across this piece of wisdom.

So where am I going with this?

Well, does this still hold true for people you encounter online?

Let us just imagine that you would stop all real-life contact with people for 6 months and the only contact you would have to other humans, would be through videos, live streams, blogs and other online content.

And let us imagine you would follow 5 selected people over those 6 months, only consuming their content.

Would this experience have a similar effect on you? Would you become the average of those 5 people? Would the statement *Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you, who you are* still hold true?

What if it would?

While an in-person relationship has probably a much more profound influence on you because you receive direct and exclusive attention with a dedicated feedback loop built-in into this relationship, there must still be something to it.

After all, this is how advertising works. It influences you all the time. Just a little bit a time but all the time. This is how brands work. They are slowly becoming your *friends*.

So where am I going with this now?

If everything above hold true to one degree or another, in today’s world we have the responsibility to not only select the people we let into our lives but also the content that we allow into our lives.

If you are a heavy social media user, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Whom do you follow on Twitter? To whose channel are you subscribed on YouTube and above all, where are you allowing mobile notifications? Which pages do you like on Facebook? What newsletters have you opted-in to? Whom are you following on LinkedIn? You are getting the point.

This is a fascinating subject. While in real life the number of new influencers you have access to is limited, online you can completely alter your circle of influence within a few hours. You can easily dilute your limited attention to too many people forcing out influencers who are really important to you.

There are so many things that could go wrong.

You may have noticed, when you have discovered a new topic that you are likely to become passionate about, you are likely to research the topic over several days across many different channels.

You will probably start with YouTube first, subscribing to every channel that resonates with you at least on some level. At your current level of knowledge, everyone just a few steps ahead of you seems like a genius.

You subscribe here, there and there.

To some of those you will want to have a closer bond with, so you click through to their Twitter and follow them there, too.

As you consume more of their content, like their videos and tweets, the platform feed algorithm starts to kick in, giving you more and more content from these people and from other people that the AI considers to be similar.

This cycle continues until you are fully immersed in this new topic. Your phone now does not stop ringing as you are getting notifications about new tweets and videos 24 hours a day.

If you think this is over here you are wrong because there is the final stage that is designed to give you the rest.

How does advertising play into this?

Now that you have clearly signaled to the AI that you are very interested in a topic, the time has come to sell this information about you to companies who are ready to reach you directly without fishing for your attention and without counting on you to find them. They are confident they have something you want and now they will make sure that you know it, too.

Besides all the noise you are now getting from your subscriptions, you will now also see paid messages in between those, based on your interests.


You have now reached the maximum exposure for a specific topic and maybe this new relationship could be equal to 1 of those 5 friends we were talking about earlier.

Get 4 more of these *friends* in the same fashion – and then let me say it again:

Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you, who you are.

Do you think that still holds true?

You may be realizing now what dangers this process involves and what impact it has on you. You now may begin to realize how vulnerable you are psychologically because the amount of data available to you online in combination with the 24h availability through your mobile device is so much bigger than what you are prepared to handle with the tools you acquired in your physical experience.

So where are we going from here and what are possible solutions? Is it all bad?

Let us have a look at the extreme and most radical solutions that will definitely help.

You could deinstall all the social media apps from your mobile phone and deactivate the email app. This will definitely help.

However, while you will regain your peace of mind, you will be missing out on the advantages of these platforms, that got you *addicted* in the first place.

There was something there you wanted and needed. There was something there that solved a problem for you. There was something good there.

So totally excluding the data flow directly into your life may not be the right solution.

Design you feed.

The solution is eventually what you expected.

You need to design the feed that gives you what you need (this is a cool rhyme) and exclude what you do not want or that has a negative impact on you.

The feed is an abstract term for the information flow on your mobile device. You do have a feed on Facebook, Twitter etc but I am talking about the aggregate result of all those feeds. Especially the notifications on your mobile device have a serious impact on your daily life.

A feed is a constantly changing organism that should reflect your development. You need to be actively looking out for content that you have outgrown and that you do not need into your life anymore.

By removing content from your feed, you eventually make space for new content or you reallocate more attention share to the remaining influencers in your life, which is just as powerful.

Certain personalities on YouTube may trigger negative states inside you at this point in your life and you need to review if you are willing to see notifications about their new creations in the middle of the night on your mobile device.

You know, when something has a negative impact on you, and you need to take action.

It is also important to allow new content into your life. Sometimes, it is worth taking a risk and to subscribe to a new channel and even to activate notifications.

It is a constant process that needs your active attention. A small change in your feed could have a huge impact on your life in the weeks to follow.

(Do you notice something? We could be talking about your real life relationships here, right?)

The goal is to find the perfect mix of information that will allow you to stay up-to-date on things you really care about. Having a strong and well-managed feed will not only help you to find success on a personal level but also on a professional level. It will give you the cutting edge that others may not benefit from just yet.

Design your feeds people.

©2019 Feraz Zeid

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