Blog / 2019 / How to Overcome the Idiocy of Algorithms and Get the Content You Love

January 8, 2019

It’s a lesson most of us learned as kids. You don’t need to have all the friends, just a few good ones.

And we probably relearned it in high school. Your essay doesn’t need to be long; it just needs to be well written.

By the time we reach adulthood, we have it down. Good chocolate may be more expensive, but who needs quantity when you have quality?

I’ll tell you who: companies.

They have no sense of quality over quantity. Consider Exhibit A:

algorithm-driven feeds on social media

All the most popular platforms use algorithms to determine what content to show you first. These algorithms are designed to show you stuff that is expected to keep you on the site the longest—the stuff that has already been “liked” or commented on a bunch. The math these corporations is doing is simple (and simply nauseating):

more time on site = more clicks for their advertisers

They don’t care one lick for the quality of your experience. They are pimps who are selling intimate time with your brain to the highest bidder. Your happiness is never a factor they consider.

And that’s especially true if you’re an independent artist trying to use social media to promote your work. Back when the feeds were chronological—back when content showed up in the order it was posted—you had a chance at being found by chance. These days, if your content isn’t already being liked, it’s very hard to get it liked.

It’s as if we’re all back in middle school, and the popular girl is pantsing you in front of the whole class and nobody cares. She’s already liked and she will continue to be liked, no matter what. You’re the new kid that no one’s had a chance to befriend yet.

So if you’re sad that no one seems to react when you post about something that really matters to you, remember that it’s not your friends who don’t care. It’s the corporations running the show who don’t.

And if you want to keep up with the work of an independent artist, you can’t just follow them on social media and keep your fingers crossed. Sign up for their mailing list (I have two) or follow them on Patreon (this is my Patreon page)!

Gwenn Seemel’s Redbubble shop
screenshot of Redbubble

The image above is not exactly an example of an algorithm-driven feed, but it follows the same principles. It’s a screenshot of my Redbubble shop, organized by top selling items—which is the default view of all Redbubble shops. Three of the five most-purchased designs in my shop are also the first, fourth, and fifth images I ever uploaded to the site.

What I’m saying: these items are bestsellers at least in part because they were bought first (because they were the only things available) and bought more (because Redbubble likes to feature stuff that’s already been bought).

These are beautiful images, but they aren’t my very best. They’re just what the algorithm thinks shoppers will like.

Don’t let simple (and simply nauseating) corporate math dictate what you experience! Seek out what you love and really connect with the humans who make the things you love.

painting of four sparrows
Gwenn Seemel
Mr. and Mrs. Right, Mr. and Mrs. Also-right (White-throated Sparrow)
2012
acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches
(This painting is part of Crime Against Nature.)
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