My fast this year is from algorithms, to which I am quite addicted.
Specifically, I am not going to take my news from Google. And I’ll use Facebook and search engines with maximum restraint, only after dark when my primary work hours are over. Blogs and their links are OK, although comments sections should be approached with great caution. Basically, I shall seek information that is put in my path by humans, not machines. I shall seek a world framed by consideration as much as possible. A world framed by discernment, and not by algorithms.
This morning my efforts to rely on human editors (in this case, at The Guardian, my current favourite these days) led me to a fascinating piece with disturbing implications. That is, the process of physically locating images and eventually realtime video in Google’s virtual world – the world of algorithms.
So here’s a question that the computers can’t figure out, but we perhaps can: Which is more beautiful? The old painting or the most recent digital perspective? And, if you share my sense that it’s usually the past instead of the present, what does that say about whether the internet has become a place of refuge from a real world that is increasingly grim? We have hundreds of algorithmic friends but how often do we listen to that urge to pick up the phone and call someone? How often do we reach out?
If you are still reading, I’d like to offer an invitation: Please join this fast (or some version of it) and see what is going on. Or support the fast by recommending articles in the comments below. These stories can provide the foundation for reconnecting with what is positive and hopeful in the world. I will be grateful for your help as I launch a period of discernment of what is to be done, so please feel free to contact me if you feel the urge to know more about whatever unfolds this spring.