Last night I took the wrong way home. On purpose.
I was trying out the GoBike, an electric bike you can rent for $2 a pop.
Out of curiosity, I used the GoBike app to direct me home. It picked an odd route.
No bike path, a bit hillier, not the most efficient. Different code. Different algo.
So what? What’s a couple of minutes anyway?
I followed the route, marveling at the streets and sights that I’ve been redirected around for months.
In a strange way, I felt a bit guilty! In San Francisco, to turn your back on efficiency sometimes feels like a crime.
We get so used to following ‘the best’ option, that we forget it ever was an option in the first place.
And as personalization becomes the norm, it gets harder to go back to the defaults.
Our preferences fit well.
We get places on time. Familiarity. Self efficacy. Lower cost.
We know what we like, and the system shows us more.
And if you want to opt-out, it’s easy enough.
Use a different browser.
Put the phone down.
But how long will that last?
It’s likely there will always be an illusion of choice, since it’s just nicer that way, but “do it myself” will soon be seen as barbaric.
You know that lovely feeling you get when you land in a new country. You can see, smell, touch, taste the ‘unknown’ and it feels great.
Or bumping into a friend in the street.
Maybe in the future, instead of travelling, the only way to get that feeling will be by paying to wipe away our preferences temporarily.
Or maybe try on someone else’s.
Serendipity will be read about, but not truly experienced.
Go off the grid while ya can!