DAVE ROSS

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

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

(Photo by Scott Graham/Unsplash)...
Dave Ross

Ross: The real secret to a happy workforce

When employees get asked ‘how can we make you feel appreciated’ they’ll say, well you know, donuts are great, but a little more money would be nice too.
4 days ago
“Homosexuality in America,” Life, 26 June 1964, pp. 66-80....
Dave Ross

Ross: How the suburbs guard ‘birds-and-the-bees’ chatter

I saw a copy of LIFE magazine on the living room coffee table that featured a two-page spread captioned “Homosexuality in America.”
5 days ago
(Unsplash)...
Dave Ross

Ross: Have Seattleites gone soft on crime?

The Seattle Police Department recently came out with some advice on what to do if a burglar breaks in while you’re at home. The advice… is to get out, ASAP.
6 days ago
Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) speaks during a roundtable at the White House (Getty Images)...
Dave Ross

Ross: Why Oklahoma’s stance on abortion will echo throughout the country

12 states have trigger laws that take effect if Roe v Wade is overturned – and Oklahoma is one of them.
7 days ago
Katie Wussler, a program coordinator at Mother & Child Education Center, checks the lot number on a...
Dave Ross

Ross: Baby formula shortage puts new mothers in difficult spot

I’m having trouble accepting that the US is dealing with a baby formula shortage – especially when the main advice is do NOT try to make your own.
10 days ago
(Unsplash)...
Dave Ross

Ross: Are vasectomies the best form of birth control?

A Tweet caught my attention because it was a sketch for a short story about a world where abortions aren’t necessary.
11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

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