Randomness and its Lost Potential
Do you like the random interaction with a stranger? When you sometimes unexpectedly and unintentionally stumble into a short conversation with someone you didn’t know? As a quiet person who lives in my own head most of the time, I’m not sure why I enjoy it. And it’s not just striking up a conversation with someone else, it is the general random experience that could seem ironically meaningful. Of course, I mean randomness that is of low-stakes. I sure don’t wish for unexpected terrible or depressing events. Today, I thought I’ll share a possible reason with you, and hopefully we can get into a small discussion on it.
The Surprise Factor
I think we like the surprise factor of an unexpected and unintentional conversation. In the internet today, much of where we get our information is curated algorithmically. Cookies in browsers let advertisers track our browsing habits and preferences, and thus show us targeted advertisements. Our feeds in the Google App or News are served with content based on our account history. In YouTube and other social media, our feeds also differ from that of others, being filled with content similar to what we have watched before. Doesn’t this sound like an echo chamber?
In a more trivial example, I may click on a link about “Switching to MacOS from Windows” and be served with more articles surrounding that topic instead of the other way round. Of course, I believe that these algorithms still allow of some randomness and opposing views, but these appear less frequently. After all, we often believe what we want to believe, and an echo chamber is a clever way to keep our attention, and these days, in many businesses, our attention is the product.
Yet, do we actually like to be in an echo chamber? I still think that we subconsciously gain delight in being offered an alternative perspective, or be proven wrong sometimes. These broadens our perspectives, keeps us humble, and reignites the wonder of life. This educational aspect is what is appealing about randomness.
Riding the Benefits of low-stakes Randomness
If you are shaking your head and shouting “Not True!” as you read this, please share your thoughts and tell me where I’ve gone wrong. I’m sure I have missed an important piece of the puzzle. But If you still agree, the next question to ask is: “how could we integrate some randomness in our daily lives?” Well, a randomness becomes planned when we try to integrate it but it’s still better than nothing. I have some ideas but chip in too!
Intentionally make yourself see or do something different every day
Because why not? Have an old computer that you are unable to sell? Why not open it up and see what makes up the thing you use every day? The food stalls you passed by and can try but have never tried because you wanted to stick with something familiar, why not just try it? Always wondered how starting a YouTube Channel felt like, why not try it? Always feeling sad or stressed? Why not not feel sad or stressed (that’s how I annoy myself when I feel sad or stressed). Always wanted to talk to a random stranger, why not do it? These are low stakes things which we can do.
Overall, I think it would be worth it to try something Random. It is a break from our daily lives and I am sure you will find it valuable.