First, a disclaimer. I am not political, nor is the point I want to make here.
A company called Cambridge Analytica, a firm that “harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of 50 million users without their permission . . . developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.” The psychographic information obtained, in what may have been the largest data breach to date, was used to design political messages to speak to segments of the population directly based on their self-disclosed, private information.
Most everything you believe is an infection, as ideas are very similar to viruses, traveling from one mind to the next. What you believe is a complicated mix of the values and beliefs your parents imprinted on you, what society imposed on you through school and culture, what you learned from others at work and in the community settings, what you picked from your friends and acquaintances, and some part of what you chose to explore for yourself.
Perhaps one of the greatest carriers of ideas and beliefs that have infected you is the media. (Read Douglas Rushkoff’s Coercion). For as long as advertising has been around, much has been done to figure out how to manipulate human behavior. Now, because there is so much self-disclosed information and a medium for communication that by all appearances seems to be more addictive than even television, you are at greater risk of picking up negative beliefs and, apparently, are subject to greater manipulation (something I believed to be true before reading the link above).
In 2009, I went on a Negativity Fast, eliminating all forms of negativity from my life for 30 days. I ended up going 90 days without watching news, listening to the news, or taking in anything negative. Instead, I listened to Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Stephen Covey, Les Brown, Anthony Robbins, and Don Miguel Ruiz (as read by Peter Coyote). I did this in hope of inoculating myself against negativity and infecting myself with beliefs that would better serve me. It worked even better than I hoped, and it transformed my life in the most positive of ways.
When you look at the beliefs being presented to you on social sites (and in all other forms of media), ask yourself “cui bono,” or in English, “who benefits?” The best advice here is the advice given to a boxer by the referee at the beginning of a fight: “Protect yourself at all times.”
Don’t allow others to infect you with beliefs that don’t serve you, that feed your fears or the fears of others. And don’t believe things that disempower you.