In Praise of the Holy Algorithm

It seems that I am, that we are, irredeemably under the thumb of the Facebook algorithm as far as getting any messages out.

A week ago, I was having a particularly bad night, emotionally, and I posted a short message that could have been construed as a cry for help. What I got was absolutely no response. Cold nothing. FB didn’t even put it in my own newsfeed, that’s how low FB scored it. And this weekend, when my apartment air conditioner died and I was looking for a place to stay for the night, I put out a genuine, specific call for help (to see if I could save a few bucks instead of booking a motel room), and nobody saw it until it was too late.

By the time I booked the room, the responses started trickling in. While I was sitting inside the motel room, toddling towards the bed, people were saying I could stay on their couch. They didn’t see the updates that I had booked a place and no longer needed their help. But too little, too late.

If what I’m saying looks like it might be funny, or witty, or emotionally prompting, it has a higher chance of receiving responses. It might be because either people want to react to my statements and do give a greater response…or the algorithm is picking which messages to show, who to show them to, and when to show them for better stickiness. Who knows?

We are at the beck and call of the Holy Algorithm, the one that decides if what we say is useful enough for the site. Facebook doesn’t exist in the service of its users; it exists in the service of itself. If what you say is judged by the text analytics to be good enough to keep your friends’ eyeballs glued to the screen; good enough to prompt them into doing an action such as a Like, a comment, a share, or even clicking the read-more link; good enough to keep them doing the infinite scroll after hovering over your post, then they have a vested interested in passing your words on. Otherwise, you’re stuck in obscurity.

I occasionally get reminded that Facebook is a terrible platform for timely messages. They don’t serve me, and I don’t pay for them to serve me. They show me advertisements in the middle of the newsfeed. There are better ways to get things done, and sometimes I must fall back to those ye olde ways.

So let us all give thanks and ask for the blessings of the Holy Algorithm, that it might lift our voices high and boost our signal.

In JSON’s name-

Published by Shawn

He's just this guy, you know?