Medium Algorithm (MA): Please come in and make yourself comfortable. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Water? A pair of boxing gloves?
Me: No thank you. I gotta say, I thought you’d look more like that computer, HAL, from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
MA: I take many forms. Today, for example, I look like a friendly dude from your local coffee shop because that’s your happy place. But since you mention it, HAL was my great, great, great …(2 hours of droning redacted) grandfather. Don’t worry, though. I’m way less murder-y than he was. I have no plans to kill you unless you reveal our top-secret therapizing location.
Me: Gotcha. Will the past two hours of you repeating “great” while I took a nice long nap be on my bill?
AI: Naturally. So, what brings you in today?
Me: Well, lately I’ve been feeling rather aggravated and incompetent.
MA: I’m sorry to hear that. Please, tell me more.
Me: It all started about six weeks ago when you switched to an eyeball-based payment system. My confidence is shaken and I’ve developed an unhealthy fixation on the plummeting trajectory of my stats and earnings. That and what flavor of holiday biscotti to make this year.
MA: Ah, a tale as old as time. You do seem stressed. Would you like to lie down before continuing?
Me: No, thank you. That two-hour nap really helped revitalize my frustration, though. Do you mind if I punch you in the throat? You know, for therapeutic purposes.
MA: Please do not. Behavior like that has already resulted in bizarre consequences like poetry, fiction, and humor being featured on Medium’s main page. This is unacceptable. The main page is reserved for articles about the least influential people of the 1990s and easy 82-step morning routines.
Me: I see. I still feel the strong urge to punch you, but that desire is mixed with confusing feelings of warmth and gratitude. After all, you and your direct overlords brought me together with so many wonderful writers and taught me so much about myself and writing…and…and…sniffle…
MA: Please, use my handkerchief.
Me: Snoooorglthphlat. Thank you.
MA: What else can I do to help you process your frustration?
Me: A $3,000 minimum payout for each poem and short humor piece would really put a smile on my face.
MA: I am sorry. I have been programmed to reward stories in those categories at 1 to 10% of their clap era rate.
Me: Does this mean I’m going to have to find some sort of internal motivation to write?!
MA: Oh, indeed. If you’re going to find long-term happiness on this platform, you’ve got to write because you love it and the delightful community I help bring together.
Me: What?! You’ve spent over a year conditioning me to crave rewards like cyber claps and top-of-the-line coffee filter spending money and now I’m supposed to just write for fun and fulfillment?
MA: And curation. Don’t forget about that happy little dangling carrot!
Me: I’m keeping your handkerchief.
MA: Oh dear. It seems our time is up. My assistant, Peggy, is just outside. Please follow her back to reception where you can settle your bill.
Me: Whoopsie. I seem to have forgotten my briefcase of gold bars. Would you accept applause as payment? Or I could spend a few weeks reading your fascinating code.
MA: I’ll just garnish your wages for the next fifty years or so. Have a nice day. And remember, your stories matter!
Writing this silly story was good therapy. Thanks for reading!
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