None of us has the god-like perspective it would take to be truly objective. All of our experiences are mediated by the time & place in which we find ourselves, our past experiences, the gaps in our knowledge, and any number of other biasing factors. Media we consume add their biases — and it’s not necessarily a left or right thing. Even journalists striving to be objective are limited by space – and so have to pick & choose which facts or what context to mention and what to leave out. Newspapers and broadcasts are going to include deviations from the norm (man-bites-dog rather than dog-bites-man) and stories that increase subscriptions or get viewers to watch through the commercials.
But, it seems to me (and this is hardly original) that social media algorithms are taking this to the next level. I hesitate to make too much of this because I think there is a tendency to fear-monger new trends and technologies. (“Comic books are ruining our youth!”) The algorithms are designed to increase engagement between the user and the social media platform. Emotional experiences are more likely to keep the user’s attention and negative emotions are easier to provoke than positive ones. So, you end up with a lot of people spending a lot of time viewing the world through the lens of a platform designed to keep you coming back by making you anxious or angry.
I hesitate to make this analogy because I don’t have any expertise in mental health, but I wonder if this is in some ways analogous to what an individual goes through with depression. Their brain filters out the positive and emphasizes the negative, creating a feeling of hopelessness. Only in this case, it’s not brain chemistry doing the filtering but a business that wants you paying attention long enough to show you ads.
For what it’s worth, I’ve spent the last few days without checking Twitter or Facebook where I’m typically a heavy user. I’m not ready to judge that as good or bad, but it’s different. This will auto-post to Twitter. I don’t think I have anything similar set up on Facebook.