In the last couple of years, many people have grown increasingly frustrated with social media, seeing it more as a source of annoyance rather than genuine connection. As we navigate through our feeds, we are met with a growing dissatisfaction due to the ever-changing algorithm, the abundance of irrelevant ads and clutter that seem to proliferate our feeds with each day. This trend has prompted us to question the purpose and significance of these platforms in our lives.

How can we intentionally seek a more fulfilling online experience?

In the earliest days of digital history, social media was once regarded as a safe platform for connectivity, an online world where friendships thrived and conversations flowed freely. However, as priorities of the platform and users have shifted over the years, changes to the platforms have resulted in many changes and a perceived demise from what once existed.

The Change of Social Connection

In a previous digital era, our feeds were an assortment of our own stories, shared memories, and genuine interactions with friends and family. Algorithms were in their early stages, and the content we consumed was a reflection of our social circles and interests.

However, as technology advanced, so did the drivers behind the algorithms that guided our digital lives. What began as a personalised experience quickly evolved into an overabundance of sponsored content and irrelevant ads, drowning out the voices of our closest relationships.

The Newsfeed Experiment

To better understand the magnitude of this change, we investigated our current digital newsfeeds by setting up a little experiment. For one entire day, from the moment we opened our Facebook phone app and browser, we logged and categorised every newsfeed clip and story.

  • F = friends
  • A = ad
  • P = page
  • G = group
  • R = reel
  • M = marketplace
  • B = birthday
  • I = interest
  • V = video

What we discovered was frustrating. Only a very small percentage of the content that used to fill our feeds and resonated with our genuine interests and connections would still be shared with us. Although there was content from subscribed friends, pages and groups, most of the content was irrelevant and from peripheral sources that were of little interest.


Friends: 39%

Pages subscribed to: 4%

Groups subscribed to: 9%

Content of genuine interest: 4%


Friends: 35%

Pages: 25%

Advertisements and sponsored content

Advertisements become everywhere, infiltrating our feeds with alarming frequency. Every scroll resulted in an upsurge of sponsored posts, disrupting the natural flow of conversation and connection. 

Newsfeed ads: 33%

Story ads: 39%

Content of “interest”

To add to the noise and blur of the never-ending scroll of doom, platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn now show content the algorithm deems as ‘of interest to you’ in the newsfeed. This relatively new trend is prolific and is shown on a very frequent basis.

Newsfeed Content of “interest”: 13%

Decline in Quality and Relevance

The increasing number of advertisements and sponsored content has resulted in a decrease in the overall quality and relevance of social media feeds. Users are frequently flooded with irrelevant posts and advertisements, which disrupt their browsing experience.

Rise of Stories and Notifications

The growing number of stories at the top of users’ feeds, combined with a constant stream of notifications, has led to information overload and decreased user engagement. Stories, which were designed to provide bite-sized content, have become cluttered with irrelevant updates and a poor user experience. 

The usefulness of the humble notification has declined and has become a newsfeed unto itself. Many of the notifications are now absolutely meaningless and far removed from quality information pertaining to my interactions with others. For example, a reminder about 3 events that are happening near me this weekend, a LinkedIn contact that has liked a random post of someone I do not know.

The Blur Between Personal and Professional Boundaries

The blurring of personal and professional boundaries on platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook has complicated the social media landscape, making it difficult for users to distinguish between genuine connections and self-promotional content.

This analysis seems pretty demoralising and hopeless, but at the same time provides an opportunity to enhance our awareness of digital citizenship through this important shift. 

In the next two parts of this series, we will explore the critical need for a shift in digital value, with content creators and consumers prioritising genuine connections and meaningful interactions over self-promotion and noise. By cultivating a culture of digital value, we can reappropriate social media’s original purpose as a space for genuine connection and growth.


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