How to Outwit Online Dating
Glo's writer looks at the algorithms of matchmaking in the digital age
Most of us could stand more of those encounters, in fact. Just ask Jutta Treviranus, a professor at the University of Toronto and author of a paper on diversity and the Internet. Treviranus looked at a number of popular websites and analyzed how often they exposed their users to a variety of ideas. Her findings? Not often, mostly due to sites' "recommendation systems," all those algorithm-happy suggestions that make our lives so convenient by constantly serving up more of the same. These algorithms have a homogenizing effect, Treviranus argues. They inevitably limit our exposure to truly novel ideas and experiences. (For confirmation, consult your Netflix queue.)
But this lack of novelty impacts more than your cred with the film snob crowd. Without variety, people become paper dolls of their parents. They experience fewer creative ideas, less self-confidence and more difficulty in unfamiliar situations. We also lose strength as a society. As Treviranus argues, homogenous cultures are demonstrably less productive, less happy and less healthy overall.
The danger of this kind of echo chamber lies in the fact that we can't see it. Once you understand the limits of algorithms, you can begin to push those limits. In my case, that means searching Netflix for horror movies, buying classic books on Amazon and changing the filters on OkCupid to show me men with interests and backgrounds that differ from my own.
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