Algorithms today, especially those on social media, tend to be helpful, hurtful, and terrifying all in one tremendous vein. An algorithm is defined as a process or set of rules to be followed by calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.
If we apply this definition to the old pamphlet sized calculators we all used to take to math class, we’d understand properly that there was ‘logic’ built into that teeny weeny device that knew when 2+2 was put in the queue, the sum was 4.
In the case of social media the ‘logic’ changes. Instead of providing an outcome based on what we’d consider rudimentary facts, the ‘logic’ becomes a result that would more aptly be defined as a suggestion. Think on that. Instead of using an algorithm to provide a quantifiable sum, the algorithm is used to provide you an outcome you’re intended to accept. In other words, the algorithm’s outcome for your acceptance isn’t of verifiable content, but rather, the wishes of the builder of the algorithm for you absorb. Again, a suggestion. But whose? Additionally, this suggestion you’re being told to consider as a valid thing, becomes a bit of an “ought” statement from the builder of the algorithm to you, rather than an “is” statement about the nature of adding two things with two more things and rightly assuming the sum is four things. After all, the builder of the algorithm has scripted the outcome based on truth as they see it, or prefer it, and not as self evidenced by any actual authority.
I pick on algorithms, for special reason. They are manipulation. And in this case the algorithms were designed to manipulate me, and they did. This is where the blog splinters. Part of what I’m conveying to you is the idea that you can’t kill me in a way that matters, and the story behind it. The other part is what led me to this consideration to begin with.
The algorithms written in computer code for social media are put in place to do two things – generate revenue first and foremost, and please you in a fashion sufficient for you to return secondly. Have any of you ever wondered how Facebook manages to generate tremendous amounts of money by hosting a monster site, employing more people than most midwest cities have population, offering you all these fun things to do, hosting your pictures and videos, allowing you to start pages and groups and coordinate events, and so on, all while asking nothing from you financially? Well, if you’re the last person on Earth to ponder it, they data mine every single thing you do. Computers log each post, the content, and categorize it. They do the same with pictures and videos. The facial recognition software Facebook uses rivals the best clandestine government agencies in the world. When you post a pic of your kid at the plate getting ready to swing at a his first t-ball game, the computer literally logs, “youth, sporting event, outdoor, boy” etc. Then when you stop and linger over the picture, the same coding deciphers all this juicy intel and accurately categorizes your acts while placing increased emphasis on any pic you loiter over more than a split second. They get to know you. In a hurry and quite thoroughly I might add.
By data mining your location through your phone, where you ‘check in’ and the places you tag your friends, social media builds a tremendous and hyper accurate data file on you. The revenue comes when they sell that extremely valuable data to marketing folks or retailers. Why? Because they now know what makes you tick. How could they not? You’ve shared with them every detail of your life, right down to what you text, who you message, how often, and even the transcribed audible content of your conversations. Thus, they can cater ads, placement, and content all laid out for you to easily absorb, thus making you highly likely to buy their wiz bangs and widgets.
It’s pretty sick actually. And we’re all ‘opting in’ to their user agreement which allows them to do this with no shame. If you linger for more than a second or two at your buddies new Dodge Ram pick up truck pics, don’t be shocked when the local Dodge Dealer has ads that pop up on your device at some point soon. “Low APR” or “Financing until you die” etc. You’ve seen it all, as have I. That’s half of the problem. The other half? Facebook, especially, gives you more of what they calculate you want.
Facebook hasn’t yet figured out how to be truly intuitive thankfully, but that’s coming. Today, they can only be proactive with you, based on reactivity. Does that make sense? In essence, they can build a logical and consistent cyber dossier about each of us based on what we’ve already done, said, watched, and clicked on. Because they can’t predict the future, they can only project forward based on our past actions, which they have fully researched and categorized. Thus, when you and I look at new pick ups with envy and desire, they keep tossing more of that kind of stuff up into our newsfeeds. You’ve noticed it, now that you think about it.
The cyber realm is able to really do a number on you these days. They toss in front of you all kinds of things THEY wish you’d do, as your choices to purchase eventually benefit them. Considering they’re the beneficiaries, what do you gain? In most cases, I’d wager that the true sum of what you gain from their manipulation is darned little. But that’s a topic for another day. I want to concentrate on how things find themselvs in front of you and I.
When you and I hit the library, the books are all there and we seek out specific things, or we browse to find things that are static, or fixed in place, correct? When you search the net, are the results you’re given static? …Or are they more dynamic? I mean, after all, you can use Google as search engine to inquire about the life cycle of the average paramecium, and be given a list a mile long of results. Take the top ten, and then compare them to the results from Firefox, Yahoo, Bing, or other search engines. Are the top ten results all the same? Nope… Not even close. So the idea that you’re searching an online database is a true thing, but the results you’re given aren’t ‘fixed’ by a long shot. No. They’re manipulated through algorithms and are dynamic in every sense of the word. YOU’RE GIVEN WHAT ANOTHER WISHES YOU TO SEE. This isn’t always nefarious of course, and I don’t imply otherwise. But you should understand rightly, when you search the net, you’re not using the Dewey Decimal system to find your book and then opening it up to static content as you did in the library as a kid.
Here’s where the paths previously diverged reconstitute. I had been exploring all kinds of thought provoking authors and statements they’d made through history and just started chasing links not long ago. The results seemed to be eerily similar each time. As a test, I started typing in random things just to see what Google pushed in front of me. I ran across a text post on tumblr that put me back in my chair. …And not for the reasons you may think.
The above is the tumblr screenshot, edited only to reduce the swearing for those of you who can’t handle it. I’ve taken a different stance on swearing lately… Unless it profanes God or blasphemes somehow, I don’t consider it terrible. Conversely, decency dictates you can live a full life without ever having uttered a single cuss word. I may post on that as well in the future. That’ll rile up all four of my readers… LOL.
Where does an idea like the exchange offered above come from? Do we care? If so, what does it mean? The only smart answer is to respond with a question like, “I’m not sure I understand, can you explain it to me?” but since we can’t, I thought I’d explore a bit. The internet appeared to be full to the brim with explanations of how this was an immortal work, and the ‘oh wow’ factor had been shattered with the very existence of these words arranged in this manner, and so on.
You can read all you want into an armed populace threatening various fungi, none of which can respond, or have spirit, or have anime in or of any fashion. (Hint, that should tell you plenty if you’re a thinker.) Also, who cares about this person’s response to the shroom? Nobody should. Interestingly, I did find the response to mia’s question a bit interesting, “decay exists an as extant form of life”… Try some word substitution and then recompute I always say… “deterioration is present as you survive in life” – does that help? I, personally, think that’s very true. From the moment of your conception you begin to degrade. Do you not? Sure, you’ll grow, get taller, and your hair will get longer, but the clock on your body as begun and it only runs for so long before it ceases. Your time, and mine, is finite.
Back up to the man holding the gun. He’s asking the name of God. But maybe we’d better ‘know’ of and about God in that sense than ‘know’ His name on someone else’s terms. The mushroom describes emotions and fear, then sums with the idea that the methodology of his death is inconsequential. Of course the man holding the gun claims he’s not scared, all while he appears to be the antithesis of calm, cool, and collected. What does it all mean? Zip… Nothing… Less than nothing, except the part about life, as we live it, being finite. That’s worthy of some time and contemplation. The rest is boiler plate smoke filled coffee parlor crap. The only thing that could have made it less relevant might have been a detailed description of how the man holding the gun got high before he questioned a shroom – that, conceivably, could have made it worse I’m guessing. If I were to bet money, I’d guess the author of that little exchange is somewhere laughing as we speak. This isn’t a contribution for the ages. It was designed to illicit a response, and it did.
The point you ask? Ok, I’ll get to it. I was really having a bad day. In point of fact, I’ve had a series of really crumby weeks for all intents and purposes. Sure, some highs were mixed in there, but lows were prevalent, and plenty of them for that matter. I sought to beat out the algorithm and move beyond what the cyber world kept predictably giving me. I did so, only to run across true blather under the guise as something I’d expect to hear from Morpheus from the Matrix… But, and here’s the point, I was reminded my time here is limited. I was tapped on the forehead and He was saying, “Imagine for a moment how I view you when I look down” in no uncertain terms. I thought to myself, “I’m going to give an account for my time, my use of the resources I had available, and my actions while limited here in this place” and I’m not doing well today by Him with those precious few moments.
I don’t know much about the algorithm, the Matrix, or the shroom. But I do know what I’m supposed to do by God. He told me. He gave me a book in which to read, emulate, and reflect. I’m guilty too often of not doing what I should. After all, isn’t He the true nature of what “ought” to be done? Since ought statements are things we’re encouraged to do, maybe those are the primarily valid oughts we should adhere to in our lives. Are they not? Let Him rule your life, not others. Be careful where you place your trust – equally, where you seek truth.
Please my friends. Be salt and seek light. I beg of you, and I wish this for you simultaneously.