You are most certainly subject x/1000 in a social science experiment on Facebook. They do those you know, on you. At any given time, apparently, (NPR podcast), you are participating in at least ten. And you will never know. Maybe you had a bad day last week. And you weren’t supposed to have a bad day. You had a bad day because the ALGORITHM knew that since January 2013 that you and that friend speak on average once every 5.7 months, but back before January 2013 you spoke on average 200 words a day to each other (with a reciprocal like factor of 10:13 that has become 1:1, for none to none). It knew you would think what she posted was stupid.
People, person, academic, somewhere, someone wanted you to have a bad day. And so you did.
Maybe they have a lexicon of words that mean goodbye and maybe the last time you chatted with this person, him, they knew that it meant ‘goodbye’. Maybe they could tell how long you would be away for, maybe they knew that you were drunk during that conversation, maybe they keep a profile of your chat speak patterns and know when you are in a ‘different state’, maybe they have an equation for the way you speak.
Maybe the ALGORITHM has vectorised you—you—and you are an equation. An equation that it can read and substitute variables into and the variable that it injected was him, this guy, a guy, the guy you used to sleep with. And it knew that you were away, and you said ‘the goodbye’ and then it knew that you were back. It was waiting and it waited and now, either because of some social science rule of thumb or some section in your equation, it knows that it’s been about three months and you are really sexually frustrated. So even though he, him, he, was gone from your feed, gone— not there—did not exist, suddenly he was there, he was everywhere, every third story. Now all you think about is him and how him might be a good idea. And now you are here, walking home, and you are going to message him because it’s 1am and he is ‘active’ and you know in the bottom of your heart that tomorrow some social scientist at Stanford is going to look at the print out results from the ALGORITHM’S evening work and be happy knowing that out of x000 participants x% of them were successfully enticed to do what she wanted them to do.