For Ahmed, My First Facebook Friend from Egypt

Every now and then I pause and notice and realize that my Facebook feed is pretty monotone and monochrome.

Same news stories shared from similar political vantage points. Similar opinions expressed with similar passion and emotion. A lot of self-promotion about people’s own music, projects, books, lifestyles and, of course, what they're eating at any given moment :).

Facebook has become a customized newspaper where what I view and what is presented to me by the complex algorithms of Silicon Valley trick me into believing that most of the world thinks like me, believes like me, even lives and eats like me. (What a wonderful world, right?!)

Any “friend” who veers from my “perfected” perspective and understanding of the world can be (and, I admit, sometimes is) cleared from my feed with one simple press of the “Block” button and I am saved from ever having to hear from that person again.

And as much as it might be comforting and confirming to be presented with a “reality” that almost entirely reflects and supports my thoughts, beliefs and opinions, I know, deep down, that this is not okay. That this does not and will not foster necessary communication between people, will not challenge us to understand the multiple “others” of our world, and definitely will not help us to be able to live peacefully with them.

So, in an attempt to expand my exposure to different and differing ideas, I recently ventured out on a virtual journey and sought out new “friends” on Facebook. Friends from lands I’ve never been. Lands, as a Jew, I wouldn’t feel comfortable entering. Lands I am not even allowed to enter because of my Israeli citizenship.

Friends who potentially have different worldviews than mine because how we all view the world is very much a product of where we view the world from.