Overriding the Algorithm

Everything that we consume becomes integrated, it all becomes a part of us. Whether its the food we eat, the things we drink, the substances we use, the physical atmosphere of the space around us, or even just the things we watch and listen to, all of these things effect us. Often in ways we don’t intend for them to. I’ve been contemplating this idea a lot lately. I’ve always been hyper aware of the things I put into my body. Although that doesn’t necessarily mean I make the right choices in that area often enough. My primary concern was always with the effects these things have on my weight and physical appearance. The subtler aspects of how what I consume effects my mental and emotional wellbeing always seem to remain largely overlooked.

Without looking at the scientific data showing correlation, it can be very difficult to even connect the way we feel with what we are consuming day to day. It is probably effecting us more than we realize, especially when it comes to anxiety disorders. In addition to cutting back on processed foods, artificial sweeteners, sugar, caffeine, and nicotine, I also want to start changing the content that I consume online. It would be interesting to make these changes just to see if I notice a difference. To log my mood and anxiety level throughout this process to try to gauge just how different I might feel without all of these harmful influences being so enmeshed in my life.

Knowing what I do now about the way our internet experience is basically tailor made for us by algorithms, I would like to try my hand at making that algorithm serve me instead of steer me. I’ve always been someone who enjoys the grittier side of movies and series. So the videos that are offered to me for easy access are primarily about murder mysteries, drug addiction, mental illness, homelessness, social injustice, civil unrest, etc. And while these topics are very interesting, they can also be very upsetting and depressing. When this is the only content that is readily available to you, it can start to feel like all that there is. I wonder how much of what I think and feel every day is directly impacted by this endless background noise of destruction, violence, and despair. Would I be a different person, would I think differently if I actively sought out different content?

One of the reasons the idea of the algorithm guiding our hand has been on my mind so much lately, is because of what’s currently happening on my Netflix account. Somehow I fell down a rabbit whole of watching English dubbed, foreign TV series. Don’t get me wrong, quite well-produced and intriguing stuff, but after awhile I get tired of the voiceover and the dialogue not lining up with the actors’ lip movements. Much to my dismay I seem unable to extricate myself from this issue. Netflix continues to suggest only these shows, and due to my general laziness I put up with watching another one rather than put any effort into finding a good American made show instead. Thus furthering Netflix’s propensity toward offering me foreign series and films. The algorithms that were created to assist us, eventually start to direct and limit our ability to make our own decisions. Only with great, intentional effort can we overcome this endless loop.

Another reason I am interested in the idea of changing the content I consume is to discover just how difficult it would actually be to do. How quickly would the algorithm adjust to a drastic change in interest? The only reason I haven’t done this sooner is because I enjoy the content I consume as I’m sure we all do. I don’t feel confident that I will be able to find more positive content that will interest me as much. I worry that I won’t be satisfied if I limit myself to only watching lighthearted, fluffy shows. I suppose if that ends up being the case, I can always transition away from it again. Perhaps I’d even be able to establish a nice balance between these opposing genres.

I’m going to do some investigating and see if there are any useful resources already out there online for ways to go about shifting your internet experience so that you are exposed to more uplifting content. It seems that someone must have already had the idea to consciously manipulate the algorithm for the benefit of their mental health already. It will be interesting to expose myself to a whole new side of the internet that has remained hidden from me until now. Who knows what I may uncover? I’ll be sure to make an update to this post once I implement this new plan and discover how this seemingly innocuous change effects me.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

Be Kind to Yourself <3

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Often one of the hardest things to figure out in this life is how to love oneself. We are all overly critical of ourselves, and that can push us to be better than ever before. However, it can also interfere with our self-perception. It is also often hard to get past our aversion to appearing conceded. There is no need to worry though, dears. There are only positive things to come from learning to love yourself. 

I have often looked at myself in a strange sort of way, and I am hoping that once I explain it, it can help you as well as it has helped me. It may sound odd, but I tend to view myself as two entities. One is my mind, my cold, hard logic, and my inner strength. It is the well-reasoned higher “human” part of me. The other is my emotion, my fears and weaknesses, and doubt. It is the innocent animal that my biology displays. My consciousness cares for and guides my body. My body with its irrational emotions and such, I view as a sweet child I must protect and comfort.

Many times in my life where I find myself alone and inconsolable with grief, this strange view has helped me. I feel compassion and love for myself. I need no one else to comfort me. I know exactly what I need to feel better. I let myself sulk in my sorrow. I will recall all of the other instances when I felt sad or hopeless in the past, and I envision myself there to give comfort. I will imagine giving myself a hug as we cry together. I tell my former self that things will get better and that the thing I was crying about then, does not even matter now. And it really is comforting and therapeutic!

This method has allowed me to view myself in a new light, as something fragile and wonderful and in need of guidance, protection, and comfort. I hope that the next time you are feeling alone or sad that you will try this for yourself. And let me know in the comments if this worked for you, what you do to comfort and care for yourself, or if you think I am a total lunatic…   

Also, I am always here to talk if you need someone to confide in. I am studying to become a psychologist after all. Hope you all make an effort to be kind to yourselves today, and don’t forget to stay peaceful! ❤