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  • Writer's pictureEric Rushton

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I hate being recommended things. It’s a bad way to live my life, but if someone says you should do this thing, then it makes me instantly not wanna do the thing.

And for that reason, I have a confession: I am an anti-vaxxer.

Nah, not really.

But I do have a weird defensive reaction when I’m recommended something. I remember there was a time when everyone was raving about Rick and Morty. All my friends were saying it was great, and it made me just think, I can’t be arsed with this.

Maybe a similar thing is going on with the anti-vaxxers. Us pro-vaxxers are like Rick and Morty fans; we’ve raved about the benefits of vaccines too much. Every time someone says the vaccine is a work of genius, the anti-vaxxers roll their eyes. They don’t wanna get started because they know they’re gonna be bringing out a booster every year and the whole thing will drag on for too long. They’ll wait until the next fad.

Part of my allergy to recommendations is that I want to feel like I’m discovering something for myself. It doesn’t feel like an achievement if someone tells me a show is great, then I watch it and also think it’s great. My ego needs to feel like Christopher Columbus – even if people have already found the thing, I want to at least be able to pretend I’m the first one there.

Also, people are smug when they recommend something. They act as if it’s their TV show, like they deserve some credit if I happen to like it too. I don’t wanna give them the satisfaction. I prefer getting my recommendations from a soulless algorithm. Sure, it’s monitoring everything we do so it can harvest our data and use it to subtly modify our behaviour for financial gain, but at least it’s not smug. If we could get the Spotify discover weekly algorithm to recommend the vaccine, I think a lot more people would be on board.

Advertising that taps into my subconscious is fine with me. I can’t figure out everything independently, so I get the necessity of recommendations. It’s a tough call, but I’d rather have my autonomy violated than have to deal with my friends giving me those recommendations.

My insecurities also play a huge part in this. If someone tells me something is great then it makes me feel bad about my own output. People keep recommending Bo Burnham’s new special “Inside” to me. He’s an amazing comic and I reckon the special is amazing too. But I’m a bit scared to watch it in case it makes me really depressed and think, “how can I compete with that?” Really, I should just watch it and be inspired and try to learn from it.

I guess it seems too close to home. Maybe that’s why I don’t mind the vaccine. I’m not in the vaccine business. If I’d developed a failed vaccine, I might be like nah I’ll give it a miss. Maybe all the anti-vaxxers are people who thought they had cures and have been proven wrong.

But I should watch the special, and obviously people should get vaccinated, so I need to grow a pair and get over my negative feelings towards recommendations, because at the moment they’re probably holding me back.

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