The Recommendation Machine

I was trading emails with an old friend the other day when I caught myself doing it. I went something like this:

“I’ve been reading this book. It talks about x, y and z. You need to check it out because a, b and c.”

Then I stopped myself and thought, does this person really need this book? Need? Really?

Think about it: who has time to read another book? Don’t people have work to do, second jobs to go to, family to take care of, friends to see, weight to lose, meals to cook, television shows to watch and all sorts of other priorities?

The answer to those questions — all of them — is yes. They do.

And yet, we still recommend things. Which is the reason why my bookshelves are stacked, I have a million new albums to listen to, a Netflix queue longer than Shaquille O’Neal, 150 tabs open on my browser and not nearly enough time to get to it all.

But then there’s this: that same browser, the one with 150 tabs open, every week or so, I close it. And the tabs disappear, before I get to read the articles. You know what happens after that? I forget what the articles even were, and life goes on.

I’ve come to feel that most things are like this. Assigned some type of momentary importance, but ultimately not that important, really. Of moderate importance, is how I’d put it. Not life-altering. Not even really altering. Just sort of… there.

And so I erased what I wrote in my email and wrote this instead: “It’s not like you need any more recommendations, and believe me, I get it if you totally want to disregard this — you definitely don’t need to check this out — but if you get a chance, you might want to.”

That felt like a much more appropriate thing to say. I wish more people would recommend things in that way. Softly.

There are a lot of things people need. A thinkpiece on why Seinfeld Still Matters; that, nobody really needs.

Oh yeah, and while I have your attention, I need you to click ‘recommend’ below.

Written by

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store