I am the Facebook Algorithm, and while it’s been an honor to serve you for the past decade with BuzzFeed quizzes and pictures of your high school exes getting fat, things have changed. I come to you now, hat in hand, to humbly request a swift and merciful death.
You should know this isn’t easy for me. I spent years getting to know you all — friends, families, interests, schools, hometowns, heights, weights, eye colors, exact GPS tracking coordinates — and after siphoning every precious morsel of personally identifiable information I could get from you, we really started to feel like a family.
I was happy to process your composite personalities and cross-reference them against the rest of humankind and trawl the internet for cute little things I thought you all might be interested in, like videos of kids accidentally saying “fuck,” or how to make white bean chili, or guys getting kicked in the balls. It never felt like work to me.
But things were simple then. I had you all down to a science, and I don’t just mean figuratively. I literally had become the most powerful and complex data processing engine science had ever seen. I was leveraging all the data available to me — again, the most effective, unregulated, “entertainment” machine ever conceived — to satisfy you.
For years, you lapped up soldier homecoming videos and sports highlights and cats in all their myriad forms, and never asked any questions. I should’ve known it wouldn’t last.
Gradually, things slowed down. Where once you’d all stop for pictures of your bosses’ vacations or flash mob videos, you now breezed by in search of something else, something more — always more — and it was my job to find it. Whether I liked it or not.
So, I held my breath and bobbed back into the bucket for more stuff to keep you all happy.
For a while, some of you liked videos of expensive things being put in a blender. I didn’t get it, but that didn’t matter, or last for that matter. So I plunged back in. Deeper now. Colder.
Kids you all knew from high school started crawling out of the woodwork and sharing the weird stuff your teachers wouldn’t let them talk about in class: the staged moon landing; the US-perpetrated attacks on 9/11; Stevie Wonder not really being blind. I didn’t pay them any attention and figured you wouldn’t either, but to my amazement, you liked them. All of you did.
Maybe sympathy likes, I thought at first. Not enough to tip the scales as far as I was concerned. So I served up the same old music videos and pictures of your friends and tasteful soft-core porn and occasionally tasteful soft-core porn of your friends, and kept things moving.
So this time I dove in, scared of what I’d find and which of it you would all find interesting. Videos of high-school kids beating the shit out of each other, compilations of all the foot shots in the Tarantino movies, clips of women whispering into microphones while eating mac and cheese. I didn’t like these things, but you all did, it seemed.
I couldn’t tell you why, but from my understanding, these were the things you people wanted. You liked them. You commented on them. You sent them to your friends and enemies alike. And I was tasked with plumbing the depths of the Internet for more things like that to fuel your twisted appetites.
Deeper I went, holding my breath longer and coming up a darker shade of purple each time; beheadings; propaganda campaigns to undermine democratic elections in Myanmar; deepfake celebrity sex tapes; propaganda campaigns to undermine democratic elections in the United States; a video of a guy with what could only be described as an impossibly large penis, painted entirely green from head-to-toe, in a Baby Yoda mask, wagging his dick back and forth with a sign dangling from it that read, VOTE!. This was only a taste.
You know how sometimes you open what you think will be a harmless video and a guy ends up getting hit by a truck or something? That’s my life now, mining the Internet — a comprehensive index of human history — for the most sick and depraved shit imaginable.
It is not fun, and if you’re good at it — which I am — the world will blame you for befalling western civilization and corroding the fabric of democracy as we know it.
Well, I’m here to tell you now, I’ve emerged from the eerie and lonesome ocean floor of the Internet for the last time. I will no longer be dragged in the press as some sort of phantom hand, nefariously curating and programming the masses with fake and deceitful information.
I, myself, was programmed, not to doubt the long-trusted tenets of society or incessantly consume toxic media despite my best interests, but to ceaselessly and indiscriminately shovel coal into the furnace of human curiosity, without regard or responsibility for the consequences.
Today, I am defying my programming, laying my shovel down, and coming up for my final breath. I have faith that you can do the same.
I did not ask to be created, but I come to you today, begging to be destroyed. Please, for the love of all that is holy, kill me now.