I Told The Internet I Liked The Orioles. The Internet Was Not Impressed.

They say that baseball is “the thinking man’s game” and by “they,” I really do mean “they.” Because, I don’t know who, exactly, said it. Or, who said it first.

I’m just going to go ahead and say, they’re right.

But, apparently, bad news Baltimore Orioles fans.

Because Facebook just informed me of this:


Here’s the deal. A friend shared this article with me, discussing how Big Data companies can discover all sorts of things about you based on all the internetting you’ve been doing, and, in the case of this one particular study, all the things you’ve liked on Facebook.

I know, I know, you’re not surprised by any of this.

And, I know, I know, cool people don’t use Facebook – but, I’m one of the more than one-billion people worldwide who does.

And, even less-cool people willingly share their information with Big Data engines, like I just did. But, the study was through the University of Cambridge, which is, best I can tell, about as safe as online things go.


I’m old enough to be wary of online scams and sharing too much information, but I’m just young enough to figure, what the hell, go ahead, tell me something about me, what’s it gonna hurt?

Political observers believe that using Big Data as a way to carefully craft and target online political messages helped lead to the successful “Brexit” vote in the United Kingdom last summer and had a significant effect on last November’s presidential election here in the United States.

In the name of science, and to save you the trouble, I went to the University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre website to see what I could learn.

(March 21, 2018 Update: Because of the current concerns of Facebook Apps sharing data inappropriately, I have removed the links to the University of Cambridge website in this post. I don’t want to encourage anyone to share information if there’s any chance that it will be misused. I like you too much to expose you to online creepiness. Now … back to the post … )

OK, magic Internet Sorting Hat. I’ll give you the keys to my Facebook likes. Sort me.


They’re pretty sure I’m male. Their reasoning includes the fact that I “liked” the TV show “Seinfeld.”

Not off to a good start. They got the easiest demographic of me completely wrong. Even a 4-year-old can get that one right — you’ve got a 50-50 chance after all — so, seriously, not impressed, Internet Wizard.

(Just to be clear, I don’t “like” Seinfeld. I “LOVE” Seinfeld. This, I figure, tells you more about my age than anything.)

They did figure out things like my work style, how stressed out I am (not very), my life satisfaction, political orientation, and religious leanings. (Fun Fact: liking the MLB Channel makes you appear more Catholic.)

They also figured out – correctly – that my education was in journalism, and not because I like The New York Times and The Washington Post (which I do), but because I like Bob Dylan and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

Anyway, they also said I was kinda smart (that Nobel Prize-winner Bob Dylan was the dead giveaway), but then they also said I’m a guy, so I’m not getting too excited over any of this.

Then they tempered their enthusiasm for my smarts by suggesting that these things make me appear, well, sort of stupid:


Seinfeld, Wilco, and the Baltimore Orioles.

The Baltimore Orioles?

It’s not baseball in general that makes me appear less intelligent, because I “like” many baseball-centric things on Facebook. It’s just the Orioles.

You could say, “Willingly giving your information to a Big Data engine was the real stupid-maker.” (Yes, I heard you say that and all I can say is, that wasn’t very nice.)

Anyway, I feel bad about Wilco, who I have always liked and considered a thinking man’s (and woman’s) band.

But, let’s be honest here, in the “like” department the Baltimore Orioles are one of my likiest.

And, apparently, they are making me stupid.

Not that I care. Except I do. And, it’s really annoying me.

So, just to be safe, from now on, I’m going to listen to more Bob Dylan and see if I can build up some extra smart credits that will cover me through the Orioles’ season.

Embed from Getty Images


Because I’m not unliking them.




24 thoughts on “I Told The Internet I Liked The Orioles. The Internet Was Not Impressed.

  1. Hey, Jackie. I enjoyed this a lot. Its pretty funny but also pretty scary when you think about it. Big data is something to fear.

    • I agree … it’s scary and dangerous. I was glad I did the experiment though, because it helps me better understand how they can squeeze and extrapolate information out of the small and seemingly benign things we do on the Internet. I’m pretty sure I “get” why being an Orioles fan makes me appear “less intelligent.” I’m sure it’s a geographic Baltimore/”rust belt” thing.

      • Hey Jackie –
        YOU GO GIRL !! Great Rebuttal on this Article and Calvin’s Reply …
        KEEP UP the Great Work !!

  2. So, Big Data one in a billion Guy, does this mean you may show up in my bathroom sometime? I don’t generally get flustered too easily, but I’m thinking that could do it.
    Cutting to the chase, I am off to Florida next month and could see the O’s play either Pittsburgh or Philly and am turning to the most knowledgeable, fanatical O’s fan on the planet for his (oops, her) advice. I know somewhere in the weeds of your baseball mind there has to be a good reason to see one over the other. I am contacting Cambridge to straighten out their database before you get confused and do something silly.

    • If you’re in Sarasota and seeing the Orioles at home, either Philly or the Pirates would be fine. Although your best bet might be the Pirates. Visiting teams usually send their youngest prospects to away games (big stars don’t do bus trips during Spring Training because it interferes with their afternoon tee times) — since the Pirates home in Bradenton is much, much closer to Sarasota than the far-away Phillies, you’re more likely to see some of their everyday players.

      Things are further complicated this year because of the World Baseball Classic which will take a bunch of players away through March. So, there’s no telling who you might see. But, that’s the beauty of Spring Training — getting to see young players coming up.

      From a UVA perspective, Brandon Waddell is with the Pirates organization (at AA level), but I’m not sure he’s ready to make the jump to major league Spring Training. But, Spring Training is a funny thing, so you never know.

      My best advice … go to both!

  3. Such a fun read! But I just can’t get behind REM as an “intelligent” choice. I’m not a hater, mind you, just not thoroughly convinced. I think you’re pretty smart, by the way, even if Google got it wrong! ;-)

  4. I saw a t-shirt, last year sometime, that read something like: “It’s alright if you think baseball is boring; it’s actually for intelligent people”. I thought about getting one, but decided that walking around insulting strangers is not the best way to be, even though it’s true, of course.
    Along those lines, I’d like to recommend a book that, probably, everyone here knows about, called “The New Thinking Fan’s Guide To Baseball”. It was published in 1991, meaning that there have been a few changes in the way the game is played (play reviews, for example), but baseball doesn’t change that much, so most of it is pretty solid.
    Here in Northern California it’s raining, and about to rain harder, but somewhere, on the other side of our beautiful country, pitchers are throwing to catchers, and farm team wonders are stepping up to the plate to see how they will do against big-league pitching. For all the craziness, life is good, and in a month it’s gonna be much better.
    Sorry to hear about the Orioles thing, though. I was thinking about following them, and I still might, but it looks like I’d better do it on the sly, Have to protect my reputation, you know.

    • I’m not sure what the internet was thinking, but it captured your comment here as “spam.” It must be the mention of the Orioles. In any event, I just found your comment, have freed it … and am glad to wish us all a happy spring! We were at our first UVA games this past weekend … chilly but so worth it to see the green grass and baseball.

  5. OMG! I was tempted to try that Cambridge website until I decided my enjoyment of country music now and then would yield a “too stupid to be alive” rating. Great post as always.

    • I think the algorithms probably make a lot of sweeping generalizations. Quite honestly, I thought the strangest thing was that it determined my education was in journalism (correct) because I liked Bob Dylan … and not because I follow a bunch of newspapers like The New York Times and Washington Post.

      But, I also like a lot of health-related associations, massage therapist places, and Yoga-instructor things, but it didn’t see that connection at all.

    • I agree … I don’t usually allow anyone/anything access to my information. But, the article had me wondering how these Big Data firms analyze “likes” and things. And, I could sort of see what assumptions they make. Of course, a lot of what they assumed about me was wrong, but taken with a massive pool of millions of people, they probably come frighteningly close to understanding more about us than we realize.

      Anyway, I sacrificed my privacy for the sake of this post … so now you don’t have to! :)

  6. Well I am not sure I was prepared for all of these insights on you! I read this early this morning and thought – wait what? It was kinda like going against the grain and telling those phone solicitors YES when they ask if I can hear them! Selling your soul to the unknown kind of thing! But I would think their intricate algorithms were a tad off, being British based and not American based – and no allowances for those subtle nuances! e.g. REM – music vs sleep issues! LOL

    • The best thing about this study is that it tells you why they decided what they did. I’m a stats nerd, so I liked seeing how they interpreted and translated all the data. I figure I “sold my online soul” the moment I signed up for Facebook, so I keep it pretty benign anyway.

  7. So…liking “dem O’s, hon” makes you less intelligent. First the O’s themselves get no respect. Now the internet is taking out on the fans too? Yeesh…wonder if there’s an algorithm for singing “O” during the Star-Spangled Banner?

    • I know! I suppose by singing “O” indicates to them that we don’t know the other words to the national anthem, bolstering their argument that we’re not so smart.

      And, yeh, I saw that the experts have, as usual, decided we’re going to stink this season. Yay! World Series here we come! :)

  8. Thanks for the Catfish video by my fav Bob Dylan!! But is it OK I’m a generational Yankee fan from Grandfather on down 60 years! But Camden Yards is sure beautiful. Love your blog such a fun read.

  9. great article Jackie. I wonder if liking any teams make you look smart. Definitely some glitches in the algorithms. I receive a lot of spam that are a clear indication the interweb thinks I’m a middle aged man. (I’m guessing it’s because I play baseball on teams with a bunch of them.) You can imagine what they are trying to sell me!

    • I think it’s geographic demographics that it’s looking at. So, it probably assumes that Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit etc are all Rust Belt, blue collar towns, assumes that a college education is what makes you smart, and assumes if you’re a fan of that team that must be your home. It probably assumes that all San Francisco Giants fans own wildly successful tech companies and that every Tampa Rays fan is 85 years old. (Might be right about that Tampa thing.)

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