“I’ve become increasingly fascinated with social media to improve on traditional ways of preparing for and predicting the future.” — Noreena Hertz
Lately I’ve been asked a lot about how to read people and make predictions about their habits, personality, and/or future behavior.
One question I found interesting was whether or not we can make accurate predictions about a person simply by looking at their social media.
You could, but you’d probably find yourself being pretty damn wrong on several points.
We only share what we want to share, there’s way more bubbling under the surface if the person isn’t being an open book. Then again, we might come with assumptions about that as well which turn out to be false.
The only real way is to meet the person in real life, hone your people reading skills, etc. Even then you aren’t guaranteed anything, only that you’re far more informed than you were at the beginning.
Stay with a person long enough and you’ll see their best sides and their worst sides.
However, the data you (and/or companies) collect can be an indicator whether or not the person would be a good candidate for a job, interested in your product, or give insight into some of their habits.
But realize that we are highly irrational beings, and if you don’t have major context on a person, how could you “know” something’s likely to happen or not?
Hell, just look at your friendships.
You’ve probably had a weird encounter with one of them where you were sure that they’d be happy about something and weren’t. Perhaps you didn’t know that their mother’s cat passed the night before, they were in a sucky mood because of the phone call at work, or what have you.
The best way to understand someone is to interact with them for a long time so that you get a baseline for their behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Then you can make more accurate predictions.
Also, I recommend reading “Superforecasting” by Philip Tetlock & Dan Gardner.
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