On recommending media

24 Jun 2024


Here are some thoughts about sending people media (hereafter referred to as “recommendations”):

  1. Recommendations are costly. You only get a certain number of them that will be honored.
  2. Recommending shorter things is better (articles over books, songs over albums, etc). It’s easiest to recommend internet-native things
  3. It matters a lot where the recommendation is coming from. You can tell if your own rec is anxiety-based (I need this person to like this thing and thus like me) versus if it’s love-based (I think this person would deeply enjoy this thing and that it would make them feel happy). I believe that the receiver can also tell. Try to find other ways of self-regulating that are not about sending someone you love a spotify or youtube link.
  4. Really, really, really try to figure out why you’re sending something to someone before you send it to them. I think about 80% of the time, what you actually want to do is tell them about it. And odds are that they might like that even more!
  5. It’s better to recommend the same things over and over again (i.e. the things you really care about) than recommend different things constantly.
  6. If the recommendation is primarily about the recommender (you), you want it to be meaningful and not a flavor-of-the-month type rec.
  7. Always feel free to send memes and pictures. They are basically immune to these rules. Online articles are also easy. For some reason, the hardest things for people to engage with are audio, video, and things that only happen outside of the phone/laptop.
  8. Recommendations should not depend on the other person’s reaction. It should be abundantly clear that the other person does not need to have well-formed thoughts about it, and that they don’t need to like it or appease you. I think this is the single biggest failure mode of recommendations: they’re a communication vessel for the anxiously attached and are transparently seen as such most of the time. There’s a mental move where you can approach it with (real) levity and openness and impartiality, and present it to them: “no pressure to check it out but i think you’d like this and wanted to send it to you”
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