Less is more in games and in social media

I am going to start this post by trying to explain the boardgame jargon ‘thinning your deck’, and then encourage you to apply the lessons to your social media usage.

‘Thinning your deck’ is a term used when playing games with decks of cards…of course, but in particular those games where you are able to influence how many cards are in your deck. The term refers to the removal of cards from your deck, in particular ones which have lower value, so that any future cards you draw have higher potential value to you.

As an example let’s say we are playing a hypothetical game that had a deck of cards numbered from 1 to 100. We shuffle this deck and whatever we draw from the top is number of points we will get. Technically any card we draw from the deck is going to give us points… wooot! But the average value of the cards is going to be 50.5. If at some point we had a choice to remove half the lowest numbered cards leaving a deck numbered from 51-100, the average value of the cards jumps to 75.5.

The conclusion to draw from this is by removing the lower value cards you actually end up with more overall quality in the deck.

The same principle can be applied to your social media usage. There is so much content on sites like facebook that they don’t simply show you everything you have subscribed to or follow. Showing you everything in a chronological order would actually lead to a poorer user experience. So the magical algorithms decide what you should see. Which is fine and dandy but the longer you use a social media site the more and more things you generally start following, whether that be your friends, pages, or groups. The problem that occurs however is that value is not objective like in a deck of cards. What you values changes overtime … let alone at different moments in your day as well. But more importantly what you value is different from what others value and what the algorithm thinks you value. You might be subscribed to follow a 1000 things but some of them give you more value than others. So to optimise your experience why not begin ‘thinning your deck’.

I subconsciously did this a couple of years ago, when I unfollowed all the amazing content that came from pages that were just pure entertainment. Like meme pages, those that show you cool videos etc. And immediately i noticed that I was seeing more posts from friends, those with lower like counts that i would have otherwise missed as the algorithms simply would not have shown them to me. And the truth is I value those posts even if I am less likely to give it a like then a funny cat video.

This week I was playing a deckbuilder game where ‘thinning your deck’ is encouraged. And I thought hey why don’t I actively started leaving groups on facebook to thin my news feed. This time around, every time I saw a post on my news feed from a group (usually made by a stranger) I went into the group, looked at the last 10 or so posts, and decided that hey maybe I don’t need to be subscribed to follow this group. Some groups I left, others I turned off notifications, and others turned off following while still being in the group. And sure enough after a day of actively unfollowing, I had a news feed I was much happier looking at.

I encourage you to engage in ‘thinning your deck’ whether that be in games, social media or other aspects of your life. We live in an age of abundance, where sometimes ‘less is more’