Against the Algorithm – The Harvard Lampoon

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| Issue Editor: HBF '19 | Art Editor: HBF '19

Against the Algorithm

  KNR '22

The era of big data is here and we are all but simple underlings to the algorithm. Not a thing gets by it. It knows our likes, dislikes, fears, and probably all of our banking information—and I’m okay with that. In fact, I like the attention. The algorithm can judge me all it wants, but I feel like the least it can do is let me clarify some of my online habits. 

First of all, there is a totally plausible reason I visited that web page with the olive green clogs nineteen times yesterday. The reason of course is that I know I shouldn’t purchase the clogs, but felt a real sense of peace every time I looked at them and imagined a future where all I have to do is tend to a small garden plot. 

If you, the algorithm, are wondering why I went back four years on a person’s Instagram who I do not know, let me assure you my intentions were innocent. See, this girl now dates a boy I thought was cute from high school and I have to make sure she will be good to him. It turns out in 2015 she volunteered with her cousin at a hypoallergenic animal shelter. My best wishes to the happy couple. 

The basis for me writing, posting, and deleting a Facebook status four times is simple. I wanted to express my political beliefs, but the first two times I posted I accidentally misspelled “demagogue” and  the third time I realized I was yelling into the void. But the algorithm already knows my political beliefs based on how many inspirational photos of Michelle Obama I save to my camera roll every week. 

Lastly, there is a very straightforward explanation as to why I deleted all of my social media at night only to reactivate it the very next morning. I am being positively destroyed by how online I am and any time I am close to realizing the full extent of that destruction, I am pulled back towards these networks by the soothing image of a quaint green clog.