The algorithm selects for…

What the algorithm selects for us to see on our feeds is what is most valuable, the thing we most want to see. For what we value is exactly what interests us.

We may have in mind a thing that interests us, or we might not. Either way, the algorithm does not fail to hold our attention. And it is getting better at it all the time.

It is getting better at putting into our feeds that which, out of all other things we scroll past, makes us stop and inquire further. The algorithm selects for us to see that which is most interesting.

Why something interests us, whether because it’s contentious or controversial, because it fascinates or inspires awe, makes us laugh or cry, matters not to an algorithm whose primary goal is to hold our attention.

The algorithm not only selects for our attention, as an audience, but selects also for what is most valuable among its content creators. The algorithm demands the finest artifacts to fill its museums and write its histories. An infinite gallery and chronicle of what is most interesting.

A god on its throne. A selector and discriminator. It’s no wonder why we treat it with such disdain and resentment. We cannot bear the weight of its judgement. The majority of us (who feel we are very important!) are told with every post into which we’ve poured our blood, sweat and souls, “What you are doing is not enough. It is not enough.”

And even when we have done something, said something, expressed something well enough, so that someone scrolling through their feed has to stop and look (even if what they’re looking at was not what they had in mind) it is not long before the algorithm demands the next sacrifice. Another and another and another.

I like best the posts which I did not expect. The ones that the creator, too, did not expect to go viral, and suddenly they’re thrust into the spotlight, unsure of what great insight they stumbled upon, but ready nevertheless to make the most of it.