The Chance to Fall in Love

There was a time I was in Australia for a vacation. Yes, it was before this all happened.

Yes, I was small. I asked my Aunt for a pokemon cup I still cherish for being cute and adorkable to this day. And I’m still very much that same kid.

But she loved to buy me games. So between the choice of not having a game or the alternative, I did what any sane mature self-respecting child would. But I didn’t decide on which one. I let my brother pick. I nonchalantly told him to pick out something he’d think I’d like. He could have very well picked something truly awful and I’d have played it from start to finish.

That game would be DOOM (2016), one of my most cherished gaming experiences bar none.

And here I am, years later. Clacking away on a keyboard. Wondering what if I just let the mind-numbing recommendations of the game-review industry churn out onto my eager hands what to consume next? What did we lose in the unknowing transition to algorithm-based content aggregation? Why does it matter? Is this hook too self-pretentious or jarring?

I’ll define what curated and non-curated content is for me. A non-curated piece of media has a start, finish and end. To appreciate it in full, you’ll have to trek through every egregious mistake befitting that only a human could err. Or perhaps it’s a perfect piece. Wrought of divine inspiration. You’ll have to stick it through to find out.

Curated content aims to achieve a feeling. It learns what you’d like, and tries its best to give you more of that. Often you don’t know what comes next, and neither does anyone else. Not even the creator of the aggregation. It’s always a mystery, a fuzzy hand in the jar where no one knows what’s next, but can very likely guess how it’d make them feel. It’s an experience entirely subjective to what the individual’s system has learned. You could say it’s almost constructing your own story, a string of entertainment that you won’t know what comes next.

But the thing is, you do.

It’ll be another cute derpy “doggo”, or some other adorable animal.

If you’re into art, it’ll be another eye-watering piece of vibrant colour and emotion.

It’ll make you ever so slightly simmer with light pursed lips and sparks of envy as you see how nicely framed others’ lives are.

There’s an interesting conversation to be had between what is entertainment and the benefits of curated vs non-curated algorithms. I’ll argue the ethics of the latter regurgitating the same vomit, not allowing you the opportunity to find out how much you’d enjoy something fresh. You aren’t any longer looking to one specific media piece for its value alone, but rather the idea and feel of a general group of media. It’s a mood board that doesn’t lead anywhere.

Whereas there are often dips and lulls in non-curated media, often not everything will sit right. Do those imperfections and dull moments make the high moments higher? Do they provide a human touch to the work? Does seeing into the mind of a singular vision, of one shared psyche, fare better or worse compared to “tailor-made” learned repetition of what you’d probably like?

Do you surrender yourself to a haze, a blur en masse of your unfocused favourite colour, or splotches of it, painfully sharp in contrast to colours that aren’t your favourite, but some that very well could be?

Non-curated content gives you the chance to not like it. To hate it

Curated content tries its best to minimize it. But what’s lost in the process if at all?

The chance to fall in love.

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