Make Your Own Magic
Technology is filled with algorithms that determine what we should deem important. I argue that we need to make those decisions for ourselves.
The below article appears on my blog at www.cheerfulmenace.com:
The world seems to be convinced that we need to be told that we are important. No, wait. Not we as people, but we as stuff. Or we as technology.
Let me explain. This all started when I was going through some work emails and came across an image on an email that said, “Important according to Google magic.” While I applaud Google’s ability to dress up the word “algorithm” to something a little more frivolous, fun, and mysterious, it’s still just an algorithm at the end of the day. And how many times a day are we impacted by such algorithms in our technological lives? Facebook and Instagram no longer provide us timelines that are chronological, but those that are deemed “important” by their formulas. And that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing. We are told/shown what “is important.”
So what does that mean for “we” as people?
I envision myself walking around with a t-shirt that says “important according to Google magic.” I smile as others smile at me; immediately feeling as if we’ve just shared some inside joke. I don’t even need to be told why they’re smiling. I just know. My shirt says that a global company has deemed me as important, and they are agreeing. No room for any other interpretation. Take that shirt away, though, and I am a mess. Am I important? Does anyone think so? If they don’t think so, how can I think so?
And as the mist of this very brief, dramatized fog dissipates, I feel sad. Sad because I realize how much time and energy is spent by others (the proverbial “they”) to determine what is or isn’t important for me/us. And by determining that, they can begin to control trends. And predict behavior. But what’s to stop all of that from trickling into our own senses of self? In a world that largely dictates what we should be caring about and paying attention to, how are we to develop the skills necessary to make such decisions in our real-world social experiences? In other words, if my social media dictates whose feeds I should and shouldn’t be seeing, how am I to decide for myself which humans I should and shouldn’t meet for coffee? Or dinner? Or knitting club?
Make your own magic.
I want to change that imaginary shirt to say “Important according to my own magic” or “Important according to my own damn magic” for the sailors. While I get the tech world’s need to have algorithms, be flippant and cutesy, and generally capitalize on our need to expedite decisions, what are we doing in our own lives to sift out our own dirt? Where’s our living algorithm?
Now, more than ever, we must remind ourselves that we are not the product of an algorithm, or in need of anyone or anything deciding whether not some form of “magic” has deemed us worthy. We are worthy. If you feel unworthy, let’s unpack why that is, and get you to feeling better. The magic’s in you. Feel it. Be it. And strive to be better. You ARE important. Make your own magic.