FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Social media allows us to connect in unprecedented ways. Every time you log on you have a chance to experience a wide variety of content, ranging from the funny and lighthearted or the negative, with mean comments and posts spreading disinformation. Both sides of this social media coin have a chance to reach viral status in our daily lives.
Michelle Drouin is a Professor of Psychology at Purdue Fort Wayne. For over a decade Drouin has studied how all kinds of media, including social media, impacts humans and relationships with one another. Drouin says a lot can lead to a post going viral, but certain components could give it an edge.
“Things like fear, things that have general human interest, there is like a train wreck that you don’t want to look away from,” said Drouin, “So you know, things that are catastrophic that are going to result in strong feelings in one way or another. Feelings of anger, feelings of fear, feelings of happiness, those could all be things that could attract a viral post.”
When you scroll through your social media feed, most of the content is tailored to your interests. It all comes down to the algorithm that social media sites keep very secretive. They are set up to present you with things that align with what you like or interact with most. If you aren’t a fan of what your algorithm is showing you there are some things you can try to change what shows up on your feed.
“It reads the general public, but it also reads you specifically and tailors to you the information that it thinks you want to see. So you could possibly change your algorithm by just visiting new sites getting a wider breadth of information that you’re exposing yourself to, you know, associated with more people looking at different news sites,” Drouin explained, “Then the types of things that will be at the top of your newsfeed or that will be shown to you as advertisement will change.”
Drouin warns to be patient as it will take some time to change the algorithm, as you add new sources of information.