The pervasiveness of people and platforms eager to tell you what’s best for you is increasing at a staggering speed. Do you feel that, too?
Other individuals, marketing agencies, and capitalism in general have been around for as long as any of us reading this have, sure. What is new, or newer, though, is the extent to which outside sources are able to infiltrate our brains, and gain access to pivotal information about our private lives.
With each click we leave behind us a trail of breadcrumbs that, when collated by outside agencies, reveals our interests, our spending habits, our location–everything, essentially, needed to manipulate us.
When we pin an image of a wedding party, and then find our feed filled with bridal imagery, promoted pins for engagement rings and wedding registry services, we realize our every move is being monitored.
When we peruse a pair of shoes online and then find the brand behind said shoes cropping up on every webpage we visit, we remember that what’s being presented to us is no coincidence.
Fielding the barrage of computer-generated recommendations based on our personal data could keep a person occupied for their whole life: Instagram recommends we follow these accounts based on the photos we’ve liked, Google autofills our search terms in based on what others have searched for.
The algorithms are churning away, spitting forth engineered, robotized, generalized personal options just for you.
Do you ever get the sneaking feeling that you’re no longer the one doing the choosing in the part of your life that’s spent looking at screens (which, these days, is a significant portion)? That somewhere along the line, perhaps in what was an arbitrary or anomalous action, you suggested a preference? And that now that isolated action is the one that’s been plugged into the algorithms, so that you’re stuck in your decision of the past? That your world is narrowed for you based on what an external source deems to be relevant?
Differentiating between what you choose for yourself and what’s been selected for you has increasingly become the challenge of our times.
As has always been the case, so will it always be: the one who knows what’s best for you is you.
Google may be comprised of some of the brightest minds on the planet; the mysterious Facebook algorithm may be worth billions, and still, those entities are never going to be as in tune with you as you are.
Compared to your intuition, an algorithm is a defunct, unreliable robot. Compared to your internal guidance, your virtual world is a noisy, impulsive gale storm.
Choose with resoluteness and singularity of purpose. Be on guard against distractions. And never expect anyone or anything else to expand your world for you. The power is still in your hands to plug in new, surprising information. The machines are following your lead.