Driving your algorithm

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

When I first learned about how Facebook and other social media platforms used our “algorithm” (preferred views, content or information) to keep us active online, I thought nothing much of it. But later, I realized that I could use the system to my advantage by “driving” the algorithm to work for me.

I guessed that the platforms first work on the profile of viewers, as in male, Asian, senior citizen, journalist, etc. Consequently, the first wave of content was humorous, political, sexual, current events and hobby related.

As I started to skip, block, report, delete certain content, those materials stopped appearing. As my interests changed, I also began to unfollow certain pages or individuals, primarily to reduce the distraction and load of posts.

Then I actively began posting, sharing or viewing motivational content such as quotes, videos or podcasts. The consistency worked towards filtering junk, spam, sexual content and inanity. Then the algorithm began to feature different types of motivational, educational or inspirational material, many of which I was not familiar with.

This may not be news or new to the younger people, but it is something worth their time to seriously review, analyze and take control of. One of the constant and most valued things I have heard experts point out is “Time.” You can’t buy time; you can’t manufacture or produce time and it is viewed as one of the most expensive “commodities” of modern living.

In spite of that information, people in the digital era waste more time in distractions rather than education, awareness and self-development. Time and content even in traditional media have turned into entertainment for the purposes of harvesting likes, subscriptions and monetization. Yes, you get a few giggles and laughs, you see an awesome body or go wow at something shocking.

But here’s where you lose. If you were to log down all the hours you spend on entertainment using a screen time app and multiply that with per hour minimum salary, how many thousand pesos or dollars would you have earned working at a job? If you spent all those hours watching really informational or educational content, how many college units or subjects would you have passed?

Urban legends talk about billionaires who never finished college, but they certainly spent a lot of time doing, working and learning from someone or through something. A self-taught expert with high competency and success will always outperform a certified inexperienced individual with a limited perspective.

There are thousands upon thousands of elderly individuals who want to continue learning things or pursue something new. But they are limited by certain beliefs that have stopped them from learning, evolving and progressing beyond the status of “old” or “senior.”

Many of my fellow senior citizens or retirees are not aware that by driving or riding the algorithm of their social media engagements or viewing, they could transform “social media” into “self-education media.”

For a long time, I have been searching for a “mentor” or a “coach” but that was quite frustrating, given my age and level of knowledge. Most people say, “You’re the one who should be coaching us.” True, but then who coaches the coach or who can help you deal with “self-limiting beliefs,”relational trauma or learning disabilities?

I don’t know everything but finding someone who knows so much more is even more difficult and challenging. They are generally too busy, not interested in coaching someone who should be retired in the first place and in an aquarium called Metro Manila or the Philippines, where knowledge is almost incestuous due to our island culture and reality.

Fortunately, I accidentally discovered (or was it an answered prayer?) that by driving my algorithm where I wanted it, I “met” so many experienced and qualified mentors, young and old, who had answers to my questions. The beauty of it was I could learn at any time and from anywhere I had internet connection. Here’s how I did it:

Having a “problem solver” mindset, I carried on driving my algorithm towards subject matters, problems or challenges I faced regularly. Then I began to “filter” them logically. Since I have a daily habit in terms of faith-based inputs, I began viewing or listening to motivational/inspirational podcasts concerning real life and not just “religion.”

Those podcasts and online events focused on people confronting limitations, making decisions, investments and eventually testimonies on how people overcome challenges common to many of us. They were proof of concept and inspiration about “how you can do it” rolled into one.

After a while, the motivational intersected with psychological or behavioral content where resource persons, experts as well as MDs, shared knowledge on the need for balance in all things, the importance of health, mental health, diet, rest, etc.

At this stage, the experience is like going to a “virtual library,” taking out books on a general subject then ending up being led to other references, then picking up significant relationships between subject matters and once you’ve absorbed what you need from the original topic, you then move to the reference topic and blend it with a subsequent discovery.

My journey began with inspirational-motivational, morphed into action, wisdom towards breaking bad habits and self-limiting beliefs, the relationship between our body and dietary choice and nutrition, documentaries on longevity and alternative plant-based diet.

Alongside, I directed my content choice towards learning a wide array of topics: speed reading to improve my skills, meditation and mindfulness for strong mental health, listening and learning from actual success stories in business and leadership and new discoveries and inventions.

It’s a very interesting ride, a lot more convenient than going to school physically and remember, the learning never stops!

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