Did you ever get the feeling you are living in a bubble? Everyone around you mostly agrees with you, likes the same movies, has the same dream holiday and buys clothes from the same stores. Until one day you wonder where did everybody else go.

This pretty much sums up our virtual life on social media. Algorithms make us comfortable.

The term “filter bubble” was coined by Eli Pariser in 2011 (listen to his TED talk here) and has since sparked debate on the ethics behind tailoring our search results and news feed for us, implicitly, not explicitly (meaning not by direct choice when we set up our accounts). Are people blinded by their own past choices and clicks? Or is this a matter of self-inflicted isolation?

One can argue and prove that algorithms have a minimal effect on what information people are exposed to (like the study “Burst of the Filter Bubble? Effects of personalization on the diversity of Google News”, by Mario Haim, Hans-Bernd Brosius and Andreas Graefe). The fact still remains that what you don’t know, doesn’t hurt you (directly at least). The bottom line is that companies make money and political parties get ahead while using social media and search engines. You can’t really blame them, that’s their goal. The problem arises when this happens using false information and manipulating the truth.

People will by default like to be in circles similar to themselves and yes, they benefit from a personalized web, to some degree. The matter leaves us with one important task: to open our eyes, practice awareness and have a filtering algorithm of our own.

The ones who manipulate information and data to their benefit are waiting for an audience. Do yourself a favor and skip that show.

About resilience. What I learned from my orchid

orchidSome time ago I accidentally broke the growing stem of one of my orchids. I felt so sad because I thought that it had been trying so hard to grow and all that energy would now go to waste because an outside factor made its purpose disappear.

I started thinking about how this parallels with our existence. Sometimes you do all the right things : set a goal, make a plan, follow through and suddenly you find that because of something unforeseen you have to stop. Even sadder, right? You can say that this is the risk we are taking when starting something new – there’s always a possibility of failure even when we give 100%+.

What happened to my orchid later on? Well, surprise, surprise, the broken stem started growing again. True, it was a bit smaller in diameter and I thought it did not stand much chance. However in a few weeks it grew tall and strong and flower buds appeared. How amazingly beautiful!

Coming back to the parallel I first made, this was the best lesson possible. Sure, failure happens, we get sidetracked at times, but as long as we commit and know in our heart and mind that the goal we had set is what is right, then we will find a way to accomplish it. It is not failure when you learn and grow stronger!

Even if motivation seems hard to come by, look around you and you will find inspiration in the most unlikely of places (like your flower shelf).