Ross: Here comes the COVID sequel

Jul 30, 2021, 7:20 AM | Updated: 10:35 am
covid sequel...
Anti vaccination activists protest the proof of vaccination requirement to get into the Foo Fighters show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

I’m having trouble with being forced to watch COVID: The Sequel.

University of Washington Professor Carl Bergstrom has educated me on this — he wants me to understand that social media is purposely designed to surround people with their personal version of what’s true:

“First of all, the entire platform is designed to keep us engaged, keep us enraged,” Bergstrom said. “What’s doing the editorial work is not humans, but algorithms, and they are these algorithms that are learning what kinds of content keep us up until one in the morning when we planned to go to sleep at 11. And those algorithms are the ones that are pushing certain kinds of information at the expense of others.”

I keep saying people are free to research what’s true and what isn’t, but he says no — it’s like being kidnapped by a cult:

“Blaming people for being skeptical of vaccines once they’re immersed in that Q-Anon media ecosystem, or whatever is it, is sort of like blaming people in North Korea for living under a repressive regime.”

When I was growing up, we were not surrounded by newsfeeds. Broadcast stations actually signed off at the end of the day. Went dark! As in, you had to read a book or actually talk to whoever was in the room!

And when they were on, the news tended to be stuff that career journalists thought was important.

I eventually became one of those people deciding what to broadcast, and I would ignore tips that couldn’t be officially verified. But that system also had drawbacks: Back in the day, when I’d get a tip that police were beating up people just because of their skin color — I wasn’t going to follow up, because there was no official report. Of course, now we know why.

Social media eventually pushed sticklers like me out of the way and got the truth out about what was happening.

But as usual, the pendulum always swings too far, and now we have the Facebook newsfeed, which, all on its own, becomes this digital IV drip feeding you what it thinks will keep you engaged.

That’s what Professor Bergstrom would change:

“Giving people the right to choose their own feed instead of having these algorithms pushing information upon us.”

Because keeping people outraged is all in good fun until something like COVID comes along and you end up in the ICU for believing what was pushed onto your screen — just to keep you watching.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

airport, freedom...
Dave Ross

Ross: You have the freedom to fly, or to stay home

When you enter an airport, you give up your freedom. Everybody knows this. If you don’t like it, exercise your freedom to stay home.
1 day ago
Dave Ross

Ross: The wealthiest nation in history is again toying with the idea of not paying its bills

The debt drama is going down to the wire. The warnings are flying, the air is thick with blame – but I remind myself that this is how it’s supposed to work.
2 days ago
Dave Ross

Ross: Now we know what they were planning

On Monday, it was revealed why former President Donald Trump had every reason to believe he would win the 2020 election.
3 days ago
trump, secret service...
KIRO Radio staff

Fahrenthold: Taxpayers paid $1.7 million to protect Trump’s four kids, three officials

There's quite a bit of taxpayer money that went to the Secret Service to protect not just the president, but a bunch of other people as well.
4 days ago
Texas abortion...
Dave Ross

Ross: You get a lawsuit, and you get a lawsuit

The way the Texas law is written, Dr. Braid could be sued hundreds of times, and sued successfully, since he’s basically confessed to providing an abortion.
4 days ago
Dave Ross

Ross: Convincing billionaires that Earth is more exciting than space

Instead of trying to tax billionaires, why not find a way to motivate them to want to spend their money on something besides just space?
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.