More Things in Heaven and Earth than an Algorithm

By Rob Moore

At the very end of the movie The Social Network, young Mark Zuckerberg sits refreshing his browser window to see if his love interest has accepted his friend request through his newly developed Facebook algorithm. Over and over and over he sits refreshing the window. I act out a similar scene on my phone or computer almost daily. You?

"Gaining Perspective" by Rob Moore

“Gaining Perspective” by Rob Moore

It’s not without fulfilling reason. When that picture you posted a couple of days ago of being silly with your friends after work is still getting likes, it’s rather exciting and a little bit amazing. But when the video you posted today about your upcoming humanities exhibit has two likes — you and the host venue — it’s only human that some very heavy let-down would ensue.

Since the onset of social media — and Facebook in particular — there has been no shortage of articles and commentaries on the double-edged sword it can so often be. And the more any of us invest our hopes and feelings of self-worth in how things play out on this Internet craps table, the sharper those edges can seem.

With communication planet Mercury and sex-related planet Mars fully in retrograde, we’re in a period when it can be very easy to misinterpret what’s happening at the root of our communications. I think it’s an excellent time to step back and take a look at the bigger picture of how Facebook and other social media are operating today… on us and by us. Even when all the planets are direct, things are not always what they seem on the big FB.

Among the key ideas in A Course in Miracles is that we teach best what we most need to learn. In that regard, I may well be at college professor level today. Since the early days when the ads were but tiny, light-blue-colored text blurbs and the page was clearly about user content, Facebook has been a frustrating trial for me. I have therefore been through numerous FB incarnations, tactical game plans and attitude adjustments.

It was clear from the newsletter that went out to subscribers on Thursday that Eric and I have been thinking very much along the same lines this week. He asks a couple of questions in his article Mercury Retrograde in Taurus: The Search for Values that relate directly to the social network discussion:

“How do you manage your personal values? And perhaps a more difficult question, how do you manage the place where your values connect to those of the people in your life, and your wider connection to society?”

I believe Facebook is the most intimate of social media and there are a number of ways we can go these days. Among the most popular include: 1) Family and friends, as it was originally intended, 2) Business contacts and career-related themes, 3) The spiritual, metaphysical and faith populous, 4) Sex interests and related connections.

For those of us aiming to live authentic lives, being exactly who we are without apology, the answer seems quite simple. Just open an account and post what happens as it happens with everyone we ever knew looking on. But there is a major flaw in that concept when we enter matters of religion (or non-religion), politics and sexual interests into the equation.

Particularly for those of us who just as passionately want to live peaceful lives, sharing our belief systems and politics with the very people we moved away from in order to be ourselves is just asking for trouble. Besides, posting half-naked pictures that your Aunt Margaret can see is not only a recipe for disaster, it’s rather inappropriate.

Sure, these days we can choose who sees what on Facebook. For me, though, this exercise is not only forbiddingly time-consuming, it exacerbates feelings that I am not being authentic. Same as I feel if I have five different profiles.

After running into frustrating walls with those aforementioned FB routes, the happiest and most authentic solution I have found for myself is to take the low road: the sexually-oriented path. I don’t have any prior connection to most of these people other than what turns us on. Any politics or religion is either an interesting bonus or means absolutely nothing to me.

If you find that to be kind of a cold compromise, it kind of is. But like so many other individuals, there is no cut-and-dried niche for me. I like metaphysics but I don’t like religious New Age-ism. I used to enjoy those photo bonding-moments with cousins I hadn’t seen in 20 years and I thought it was cool seeing my college buddies’ families. But having to endure bigotry and religious rants from these deeply rooted connections outweighed and outlasted any enjoyment.

I really didn’t intend to head so deeply into this aspect of social media but these exact types of choices — or failure to choose — can have a strong impact on our self-esteem and feelings of security. In an imperfect world, choosing the path that offers our authentic selves the greatest peace and ease can sometimes be as authentic as it gets. Once we find that to be true, there is every reason to feel good about whatever conscious choices we have made.

Now to consider what we can often experience once inside the FB maze with a population who gets us.

I set out on my current sexually saturated Facebook incarnation because, at long last, it was a path that was genuinely exciting and fun to me. Having the repeated experience of being all but completely ignored during my previous Facebook attempts, I was passionately moved to crack the code this time around. This meant observing how others’ posts performed, noting the factors involved between those at the center of attention as well as those who were not.

I don’t care what’s been written or posted about ‘how to succeed on Facebook’; virtually none of it has to do with people authentically liking us. There is no formula to plug into for that. If any calculated move would help, it would be to throw out all formulas. So if your experience — like mine for so many years — has been infuriating or disheartening, if nothing else I hope my observations and experiences offer you a different outlook.

Scrolling through posts day after day, there are clearly individuals who harken back to the high school equivalent of ‘popular’. One selfie of them driving to the supermarket will get 175 likes in a couple of hours.

In my particular homosexual Facebook population, it is quite frequently a reflection of their porn actor status (even if they were in only one movie years ago), or they own the hot-spot bar, or they’re an escort or whatever. In a word, it’s politics… people who could potentially get us something we want if we were tight with them. Even if it’s a tumble with their body. Fame is in the mix, too, but the motivation for adoring famous people is quite similar to underlying political agendas.

I am glad to say that once I was on the other side of age 24, fame was something that did not seem attractive to me. I want people to want to know me and say ‘yes’ to my suggestions because they genuinely want to. Fame all but demolishes that possibility. And so, when I see dime-a-dozen photos from the same individuals racking up hundreds of likes, I move on past with disinterest. Whatever is at the core of that isn’t what I’m after.

But, alas… over time I have noticed something interesting about these same exact individuals that correlates very closely to my experience. Should any of these sexually high-profile guys post anything genuinely newsworthy or informative, those posts will only get two, three, maybe five likes on a good day. And just above that post is a photo of them holding up a box of screws at Home Depot with 387 likes.

From my own posts, a handful of people will respond to a wide variety of photos that are of me, sexually provocative or not. But as soon as I post a piece of original artwork or a link to something I created, more often than not there is no response at all.

Essentially, what I’m describing is the follow-the-herd mentality. Any post that falls outside the prevailing themes of a given FB populous has a great chance of being sidestepped. My hope is that others setting out to make sincere, heartfelt posts that seem to be overlooked will see there’s more at play here than just the public perception of us as individuals. A lot more.

Facebook, Twitter, even the Internet in general truly have striking parallels to playing the roulette wheel or slots in Vegas. I have noticed repeatedly that the visibility of a post depends more on its original trajectory than anything. If a post lands in a particular time period that misses initial viewers and responses — whether everybody’s getting ready for work or a barrage of other posts buries ours — it will just fall off the radar almost completely.

Add to that another factor I’ve noticed: there is a general hesitancy to like something that currently has only a couple of likes, no matter how hot, compelling or desirable. Conversely, if everybody else is apparently liking something, others seem more willing hit the like button themselves.

As an example, one of my profile photos that is very weak and unappealing has been liked repeatedly for some reason. The only thing that adds up is that it got on a high-profile trajectory early on and racked up a bunch of likes. Since then, when someone looks through my photos, they’ll hit ‘like’ on that photo probably because its high number says ‘this is the one to like’.

One final observation that I believe speaks volumes is an ever-increasing Big-Brother-is-watching syndrome. I noticed some while back just how blatant Facebook can be about showing posts that contain something you liked two hours ago. For instance, I rarely like or click on anything with a cat because I will soon be inundated with pussies. And I’ve noticed selecting the ‘show fewer like this’ option results in not seeing everything that friend posts… whether cats are involved or not. Therefore, I just refrain from liking or responding to such posts.

Similarly, the thought that other friends can see that we have liked some weird, freaky or kinky post has tremendous power to stop us from acting on our genuine impulses.

Today I have only barely scratched the surface of all the factors involved. There are script commands that determine whether or not our posts show up for everyone, not to mention how advertising preferences — or not even considering them — affects our posts. So, if you ever find yourself in complete awe at what appears to be total disregard for your life and interests by FB friends, you would do well to bear in mind very little is straightforward in the dollars-driven social media.

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So many complex factors are involved there is truly no way to ever know for sure what has influenced an outcome. Funny, isn’t it? The more intelligent and sophisticated humans have become, the more our experiences seem to rely on serendipity, God and the universe.

On that note, my experiences with Twitter, Tumblr and most intensely Facebook have been on a trajectory of greater enjoyment that began simply by acknowledging the tiniest of milestones. When I went from zero likes for weeks on end to one single other individual on Earth liking what I shared, I stopped and appreciated that little bond and breathed in the deep gratification of the movement it represented. This was no act, by the way. It was actual realization that some kind of shift was showing signs of being afoot.

Slowly, slowly, one like became two, two became five and so on. An even greater sense of gratification emerged through the process as I found I actually really did like what this handful of people connecting with me were generally up to. Sure, the momentum wanes from time to time, connections opt out of the game and factors change. As long as we can bring it back to the moment, though, we’ll find our footing again. And rediscover pure, simple enjoyment of what is actually a rather complicated process.

’The moment’ never ceases to amaze me. I mean, is there anything that coming into the moment can’t solve? I really don’t think there is. No matter how much we humans have complicated everything that surrounds it.

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About Rob Moore

Rob Moore is a published author and has a strong background in art direction and image work. Ever seeking to identify the truths recurring through his own life and that of others, Rob continues to express his findings via writing and imagery. Please visit to learn more.

5 thoughts on “More Things in Heaven and Earth than an Algorithm

  1. Michael Mayes

    This hits home for me Rob, perfect timing. It would be easy to just say eff it and not be on facebook, but I think that action lacks integration. It’s something I’ve struggled with a lot recently, in the past few weeks rather intensely, because I’m dealing with some possessive feelings toward someone who gets lots of sexual attention on facebook. Then there is the issue you mention where someone posts about how they made a bowel movement and it gets 57 likes, but a bunch of cool pics of mountains or grad school performance experiences get maybe 6 likes. Granted, I’ve made social media mistakes, and gone down rabbit holes that wrought destruction in relationships. Shadows brought out via social media are something I sit with, feel, think about, while most importantly not hating myself. I find it absolutely necessary to hold space for self worth, and faith in self in order to survive on social media. Sometimes I think about how illusory facebook is. The Buddhists would say that it is, obvs. I’m in the middle though. I consider it a third consciousness, but like you say; one that is completely unpredictable by any real human standards. Yet, it’s often annoyingly predictable. So basically, I just try to be aware of how I feel, what I’m thinking, and take care of myself on social media, just like I would in any other environment.

  2. Rob Moore Post author

    I’m glad the timing was right for you, Michael. A great thing to learn. Thanks for your valuable feedback here.

    To your point, I’ve told Facebook to eff off numerous times but it has always come back around to the fact that it’s such a huge part of society these days it’s almost not realistic anymore. At least not if you’re interested in finding out about events, opportunities, etc.

    You reinforced the idea about sexual or down-and-dirty stuff getting responses and actual milestones and interests being ignored. One thing I want to add about that is I use it as excellent feedback. I get blatantly hit on all the time, often by some hotties I’d go for by all appearances. But, if over the long haul, they only ever like or comment on a half-naked photo all the while ignoring the things that demonstrate who I am at my core, I am grateful to know that’s not an invitation I would enjoy pursuing.

    Yes, Michael, I agree there’s much that is totally predictable on Facebook. For me, at the end of the day, it’s not so very removed from life out here in 3D. Finding others who reflect and nurture our own values doesn’t happen all that often. At least not for me. For that very reason, I decided I could use all the avenues available to find those who do. That includes Facebook.

    Appreciate hearing from you =]

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