For as long as humans have been conscious of preference, we have looked for ways to telegraph it to others–and in the age of social media, that’s easier than ever. But as author Tom Vanderbilt reveals in his new book, You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice, there is an increasingly obvious gap between what we “like” on the Internet and what we actually like. Take Netflix. Users who consider themselves more serious-minded might give five stars to Hotel Rwanda and two stars to a Captain America film. But often, reveals Todd Yellin, Netflix’s VP of product innovation, they’re “much more likely to watch Captain America.” That’s why Netflix’s recommendation engine prioritizes viewing history over ratings (much as Google displays ads based on browsing history). In such a climate, Vanderbilt writes, “You cannot hide from your own taste.” That means it’s time to fess up to our pleasures, guilty and otherwise.
This appears in the May 30, 2016 issue of TIME.
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