The Secret Choreographers of Our Life

Made by Kimberlyn Cho · UNLISTED (SHOWN IN POOLS)

Created: February 2nd, 2022

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Intention

I was inspired by the Netflix documentary, the Social Dilemma to look into hidden personalized algorithms and its effect on our offline lives for my thinkpiece. My goal for this investigation was mainly to create awareness of how much of ourselves are a part of the internet world, and how that information is used against us in our offline lives.

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Outcome

‘The Secret Choreographers of Our Life '' highlights the impact of today’s internet algorithms- especially on adolescents. The decision paralysis from overanalyzed data analytics, the impulsivity and aggression that hides behind anonymity, the obsession and hypercriticism from deceitful comparisons- the power the internet has over us makes me wonder, who really is in control? Do these algorithms know us better than we know ourselves? Or contrastingly, who is this person the internet is convincing us to be? The collage represents the hidden psychological, physical, and emotional effects of a ‘personalized’ internet experience in today’s generation.

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Process

 I was inspired by the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” and the need for human agency to remedy the effects of social media. I wanted to visually represent this unforeseen consequence of personalizing a public experience. The collage further explores the privacy concerns of personal data collection/applications from my thinkpiece. I looked through applications like instagram, facebook, netflix, etc and my frequent shopping sites to find examples of creepy algorithms. One unexpected discovery was my amazon algorithm. My amazon feed recommended that I repurchase a set of teas I had purchased at the beginning of the fall semester under the “Buy it Again” section. I found the timing extraordinary in that each box of 2 that I had purchased had about a month and a half supply’s worth. I checked my tea box and surprisingly, I only had a few of each left. By purchasing my tea online, I had unintendedly given the amazon algorithm knowledge of my tea preferences and purchasing habits. As I continued to look through my apps and websites, I continued to find compelling recommendations' and ‘suggestions’. That brought me to wonder, did the algorithms know more about me and my preferences than I did myself? Or were these recommendations subtly shaping my preferences?

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Reflection

The final artifact did come out to be a lot more dystopian than I had originally planned for. I think the urgency and chaotic underlay of the documentary unintendedly transferred over to the final product. Although the entire process was personally very insightful and enlightening, I don’t think my stance is as dystopian as I may have portrayed in my artifact. I’ve been thinking about how to respond to this realization and if I want to break free from what some would call ‘an invasion of privacy’. However, I don’t feel that I am ready to sacrifice the efficiency and accessibility of a personalized internet experience. While I do think everyone should have an understanding about the invasion of privacy that hides behind the internet, I also feel that not many of the general public places great importance on safekeeping that information.

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