Nancy Roman

Better Than I Know Myself

There are certain words I love.

When I was a little girl, I loved the word Mystical. It sounded beautiful – it sounded like what it meant.

I loved Forsythia. Isn’t that a lyrical word? At the beginning of Spring, just hearing someone say Forsythia made me feel refreshed.

As I got a little older, Mystical was replaced with Ephemeral.

And Decolletage. Why would anyone use the coarse and ugly Cleavage when you could whisper Decolletage?

Right now I am enamored with Algorithm.

I just love that word. It’s a sturdy word.  Not gossamer (which I also rather like, by the way). It’s precise. Scientific. Strong, but it ends lightly… with rithm. (I got rithm. I got music…) 

Which has gotten me, eventually as usual, to my point.

The Internet Algorithms.

They are as perfect as the word itself.

Facebook, Amazon, Google – they have discovered the formulas that explain us.

They know me. My brain doesn’t see connections between what I write one day, and what I read the next day, and what I will buy tomorrow. But the Internet Algorithm knows.

The Algorithm knows what books will captivate me, what clothes I will adore, and what cartoons will delight me.



I used to think, though, that sometimes the Internet got it wrong. Like suggesting crochet patterns, or 3-day purge programs, or $149 sleep solutions.

But OMG, I just today had the most incredible revelation!

My brain is scattered.

Facebook is logical.

What if…

What if Facebook KNOWS me better than I know myself? Given Facebook’s recent accurate prediction that I was about to become completely infatuated with Anthropologie…

What if Facebook’s algorithms are actually foretelling my future?

Maybe in the next year I will start crocheting during my insomnia-inducing three-day purge.

I think it is very likely, given the precision of the algorithms.

So this week, you can imagine that I was a bit concerned when Facebook suggested I join a support group for Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Holy Crap, the infallible algorithm sees bone marrow failure in me!

I know I should be very grateful though. Early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment. And you can’t get any earlier than getting your diagnosis before you even have the disease.

But to tell you the truth, I am even more scared by a “Suggested Post” that Facebook has sent to me at least eight times this month.

It’s terrifying.

Not only am I destined to be a… (yikes)… Republican…

I am going to be a Republican in UGLY SOCKS!!!!




  1. It’s a little scary how the computer brain knows so much about us. Would you agree?


    • I WAS frightened at first, but now I think I’ll just let the internet make all my decisions for me. It MUST be right, no?


  2. Actually, I think you should breathe easy. The computer brain’s logic IS fallible. It has certainly come a cropper on my algorithm (whatever it is). It doesn’t understand that Bill and I use the same computer, or that I sometimes go places virtually where my flesh and blood would never never never go, or that Anthropologie is absolutely not my thing. Not in this life, anyway. (Yes, it keeps pushing the same four Anthopologie dresses at me wherever I surf, but no I’m not going to buy them because I know my body type, on which they would look awful, and also because I don’t need more dresses anyway now that I’m retired.) So you’re probably safe from Republicanism. And ugly socks? You? Never!


    • You’re right – I would never wear those socks!


  3. I can never hear the word ‘algorithm’ without the image of our former Vice President and Second Lady on the dance floor flashing into my mind…Al Gore rhythm…which reminds me that oxymoron is another word I have a particular affection for.


    • Now I will never be able to hear that word again!!!


  4. I know it’s unAmerican of me, but Adblock Plus on my browser means I (thankfully) have no idea what Facebook or anyone else’s algorithms think I should be interested in purchasing.


  5. Gosh, it’s too early in the morning for this heavy thinking. I might as well throw in the towel and let Facebook’s algorithms do my thinking for me. I’m up for an adventure. I wonder where this will take me in 2015.

    Gee, Nancy. Thanks for the suggestion. 😀 😀 😀


  6. The socks aren’t so bad, but that whole Republican thing is scary. I hope they can prescribe something for that.


  7. Be strong! I am always amused that if I look at clothing on any website, I will continually get ads for it everywhere. If I wanted to buy it, I would have bought it when I was on the site, damn it!


    • You are one strong lady. If they show me that outfit enough times, I eventually need to buy it.


  8. Decolletage – lovely word. I work in childcare with children under 3 years old. One of my colleagues has a bountiful, pillow-y decolletage. While one of our little darlings, a truck and heavy equipment loving little 2 year old boy, was having a post-nap snuggle one day, he looked up at her lovingly and said “Oh Susan, I love your trench!” Not elegant, but got his point across.


    • Oh, that is adorable! I may call it a trench from now on. Not that I have one.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ray G

    You got that ad simply because you appeared on HuffPost.


    • You think the Republicans are punishing me?


      • Ray G

        More likely they are trying to convert you.


        • Never. When I was a teen in 1968 and too young to vote, Mom was registered as an Independent. I convinced her to go to City Hall and re-register as a Democrat, so she could vote in the primary for me.


  10. The socks are perfect for hanging up on Christmas Eve!


    • I bet they get filled with ‘clean’ coal!


      • Reminds me of my Dad telling us about putting up a pillow case on Christmas Eve and it being full of coal in the morning instead of the toy soldiers he’d hoped for (they were lined up downstairs ready for battle).


  11. Go. Run. Smash your computer. Never shop with a credit card or online again.

    OK, stop laughing.


  12. My, what sites know about us, hey! Quite scary when you think about the profile they can build up about us just from our clicks! It’s also nice to know that they don’t get it all right … we’re humans (mostly unpredictable) and not machines (mostly predictable).

    Thanks for the interesting post.


    • Sometimes scary right; sometimes laughably wrong.


  13. My gmail account keeps trying to get to know me but gets it all wrong. And the first thing I thought when I saw those socks is if I bought those, at least I’d have something to wear on Crazy Sock Day at the office. Oh how I love a crazy sock day. Bonus Check Day would be so much better though. 🙂


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