Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 Resolution Is A Promising Step For Facebook

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Carrying out New Year’s resolutions isn’t easy, which is often why people take to Instagram or Facebook to document their 2017 goals. The more people you have to hold you accountable, the more likely you are to follow through, right? Mark Zuckerberg is, as Us Weekly’s popular franchise goes, “just like us.” At the start of every January, he shares his annual goal with his 83 million Facebook followers. These goals range from ones that feel more achievable (read 25 books) to those that seem completely out-of-reach for us everyday folk (build an AI assistant voiced by Morgan Freeman).

In the past, these resolutions haven’t really reflected on Facebook’s mission. They are, after all, Zuckerberg’s personal challenges. But this year is different — and for good reason. Yesterday, the Facebook founder posted his 2017 resolution: to visit and meet with people from every state in the U.S.

If we learned one thing last year, it’s that most of us live in bubbles of our own creation. And instead of expanding our world, Facebook tends to make it even more narrow. The posts we scroll through are an algorithmically curated collection of opinions, photographs, and stories from our friends and news sources that we’ve chosen to “like.” Sure, you probably have a cousin or high school acquaintance who was loud and proud about their intentions to “make America great again” with their vote, but for many of us, these dissenting opinions were few and far between. Our pro-Hillary Facebook feeds were part of what made Trump’s win so jarring.

Zuckerberg does not shy away from admitting that 2016 was a rough one. But his resolution implies that he’s searching for a way to burst his bubble:

“After a tumultuous last year, my hope for this challenge is to get out and talk to more people about how they're living, working and thinking about the future...For decades, technology and globalization have made us more productive and connected. This has created many benefits, but for a lot of people it has also made life more challenging. This has contributed to a greater sense of division than I have felt in my lifetime. We need to find a way to change the game so it works for everyone.”

“Changing the game” will require far more than a few road trips Zuckerberg plans to take with his wife, Priscilla Chan. But in a country that is still so divided following one of the most partisan and contentious elections in history, talking to people everywhere — from Alaska to Rhode Island — is a step in the right direction. How can we attempt to understand others’ opinions if we don’t get offline and talk to them, face to face?

If you’ve never joined in on Zuckerberg’s challenges in the past, I wouldn’t blame you. Developing a virtual assistant for my apartment is just a tad outside of my skill set. While I don’t have the vacation days or travel budget to visit all 50 states by the end of 2017, I do want to try to burst my own bubble. My goal for 2017 is to hear from more people whose lives are far different from my own. And I’d encourage you, as Zuckerberg does, to do the same. If anything, it might help make your Facebook feed less of an echo chamber and set us all on a positive course for change.

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