In Defense of Self-Determination
TAKE YOUR ALGORITHM AND SHOVE IT! ...
This is a rant in defense of self-determination, and against the kind of mind control that many social media moguls are seeking to exert upon their memberships.
I am damned tired of being pushed around, and so should you be. And I just won't take it anymore, and neither should you...
So I am telling all social media moguls to take their vaunted algorithms and put them where the sun never shines.
The final straw was laid upon the camel's back when I recently received an unsolicited solicitation to join a "professional" network whose main self-recommendation was it used an " advanced matching algorithm " that would help me discover "real business opportunities" happening all around me.The notice said, "You have been invited by [one of my LinkedIn connections]...to become a part of the [redacted] network. Join over 13 million professionals from over 200 countries who have been referred to the [redacted] business network. Sit back and let [redacted] find your next job, sales lead, business partner, and more..."
I am not exactly sure what the "more" means, but whatever it purports to be, I bet it's still one more pile of bull chips.
I prefer to be the captain of my own destiny, the architect of my own future, the decider of my own fate...
Fact is virtually all, if not all such claims are unadulterated poppycock. Witness, for example, the multiplicity of internet-based employment search firms who claim — and the operative word here is "claim" — to employ "advanced algorithmic matching".
Now, I am not personally in the market for employment. I am, however, a marine industry consultant. And through the years, I've found it useful in generating leads to keep an eye out for small to medium sized businesses in the industry, who are looking to fill certain kinds of needs that might be more advantageously performed on an out-sourced basis. Consequently, I have remained signed up with a variety of web-based recruiting firms.
What I've concluded from such activity is that, if there is a firm which actually uses an "advanced matching algorithm", I have yet to find it. Without variance, the notices I receive from such firms are clearly the result of little more than a crude keyword search engine. Mention the term "engineering" in your resume or online profile, and receive notices about jobs in every form of engineering from genetic to nuclear. Mention "marine industry", and you will receive military-related job notices — occasionally even a notice for mercenaries.
Of course, it's not just job-search firms who over-represent the power of their sacred-cow algorithms. All manner of social media platforms do as well, from internet dating and matchmaking sites to smart shopping sites, right down to Facebook and LinkedIn (who are, perhaps, the most active propagandists on behalf of algorithmic intelligence).
Not only do all of these bull chip artists over-represent the accuracy of their algorithms, they exhibit an almost religious devotion to algorithmic control.
And as with all religious fanatics, the proponents of, and apologists for such control do not book any evidence or argument to the contrary.
Yet, they stand ever ready to manipulate the very algorithms they point to as objective standards of affinities and popularity, all in a paroxysm of self-fulfilling prediction.
Algorithmic control of social media networks is worse than any nightmare George Orwell could have concocted...
The proponents of algorithmic control set networking on its head by deciding they know better than you do what you are thinking, better than you do what you like and want, and better than you do what you should be reading and viewing.
LinkedIn, for instance, now openly proclaims that — notwithstanding your explicit elections as to whom you want to be connected to, and as to which authors you specifically want to follow — its demigod-like algorithm can discern your true intentions better than you can, by analyzing who and who are not your "strong connections". And then, acts on the purportedly "factual" data adduced by its algorithm to decide what you will see and what you won't. Never mind your explicit settings and personal elections... and never mind the obvious instances of egregious errors that we see the system making minute to minute, hour to hour, and day to day.
If we don't draw a line in the sand with respect to algorithmic thought control, we will end up like the Eloi of H. G. Wells's The Time Machine ...
So, how do you resist? How do you re-assert your right to self-determination?
First, never accept that someone else — Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social media platform — knows your wishes and intentions better than you do. Make the effort to stay in control of your social media experience by actively controlling and paying attention to your preference settings and controls. And to what is happening in your "news feed".
Second, take active steps to strengthen and maintain the connections you've created and which are valuable to you in your estimation. And moreover, take a couple of minutes each time you sign onto a social media platform to unsubscribe, hide, or block content that you don't want to see.
Third, take a few minutes weekly to like and share with your network of connections the content you judge to be of merit — whether you do so on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media platforms.
Last, but not least, join with me in telling the progenitors of social media mind control to,
Take your algorithm and shove it!
Postscript: A version of this article was previously published on LinkedIn and Medium. I've elected to re-post it here because beBee represents an approach to networking that is in distinct contrast to what we see on most social media platforms. beBee employs what founders Javier Camara Rica and Juan Imaz call "affinity networking" — a system in which members decide who they want to follow and what they want to see, facilitated further by by subscribing to interest-specific "hives" or groups. Theoretically not so different in structure from, say, LinkedIn or Facebook.
However, beBee's operating procedures are hugely different, in that Rica and Imaz have pledged, and continue to confirm publicly that beBee will never over-ride or otherwise interfere with the flow of content between members and writers and their followers, or within hives. At beBee, what you ask for is what you get. Pure and simple. And to my mind, that difference makes all the difference in the world.
Author's notes: I don't write a lot about social media, except for the occasional piece about the failings of some of the platforms, and the occasional article on the psycho-sociological issues surrounding the presence of social media in contemporary society. If you found this post of interest, you may want to look at some of my other pieces on social media:
If you'd like to receive notifications of my writings on a regular basis, click the [FOLLOW] button on my beBee profile. As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.
Feel free to "like" and "share" this post and my other LinkedIn articles — whether on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, provided only that you credit me properly as the author, and include a live link to my original post.
About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation. And in a previous life, I taught logic and philosophy at university.
The (optional-to-read) pitch: As a professional writer, editor, university educator, and speaker, with more than 1,000 print and digital publications, I've recently launched an online program for enhancing your expository writing: learn2engage — With Confidence. My mission is to help writers and would-be writers improve the clarity of their thought, master the logic of discussion, and strengthen their ability to deal confidently with disagreement.
To schedule an appointment for a free 1/2-hour consult email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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