Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms are haunting me… with ninja pants

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Me and my “ninja pants.”


Mark Serrels/CNET

As a man pushing 40, I’ve lived a long and fulfilling life. I’ve gone on adventures, taken risks, eaten weird food in different countries. Once I put myself in the hospital trying to backflip off a hay bale. 

Regrets, I have a few, but none compare to the time I decided to buy a pair of ninja pants while idly scrolling through Instagram stories.

Where to start with this tale of woe? Perhaps at the beginning. With the ninja pants themselves.

If you’re a man on any social media platform, there’s a high chance you’ve already stumbled across ninja pants in your feed. Gigantic, baggy, potentially comfortable. Sometimes they’re advertised as “Japanese” pants, the cool kids in Tokyo love them apparently. Other times they’re called “casual harem pants,” raising a multitude of questions. What do people wear in a harem? If these are “casual” harem pants, what do “formal” harem pants look like? 

For some reason, in 2020, I’ve been bombarded with ads for these loose-fitting, jogger-style pants and — because I’m a bold man of action — I buckled. I decided to buy a pair. 

This pair to be precise. 

screen-shot-2020-09-09-at-2-48-20-pm.png

I ordered the ones on the left. Tasteful.


Screenshot by Mark Serrels/CNET

I bought them because I was bored, swiping through Instagram stories on a lazy Sunday night. They looked nice! They were on sale! I’d never bought something from an ad on Instagram before, let’s just do it one time, as a treat.

After all, stuck indoors during a global pandemic, online shopping is one of the few surefire routes to a dopamine rush. It feels nice to have a package arrive, rip it open like mini-Christmas. I craved that experience, so I paid AU$50 for it.

In less than a week, I imagined, I’d awake, bleary eyed, to a nicely fitted pair of ninja pants, just like the ones in that Instagram ad. A future filled with style and comfort, in equal measure, beckoned.

Or so I thought. 

Not only did my ninja pants take almost six weeks to arrive, but when they did they were almost coming apart at the seams. Worse, they didn’t make me look like a ninja at all

Huge mistake

But worse than the delay, worse than the shoddy product itself, was what the purchase did to my social media accounts almost instantaneously. 

Seconds after hitting “buy” I realized I’d made a huge mistake.

Thanks to the algorithms threatening to swallow democracy and civil discourse in one gigantic gulp, Instagram and Facebook assumed I — after buying just one pair of ninja pants — wanted to buy nothing but ninja pants for the remainder of my life on earth.

My feed ever since: ninja pants. Nothing but ninja pants. A tsunami of ninja pants.

screen-shot-2020-09-07-at-2-05-32-pm.png

Screenshot by Mark Serrels/CNET
screen-shot-2020-09-09-at-5-47-16-pm.png

Time to [checks notes] “modify” my “unique sense of fashion.”


Screenshot by Mark Serrels/CNET

And worse, Facebook was determined to lead me down an alarmingly extreme rabbit hole that consisted of increasingly bizarre ninja pants that seemed to defy reason and fashion. I was about to come face to face with the Alex Jones of ninja pants.

screen-shot-2020-09-09-at-3-33-21-pm.png

Extreme.


Screenshot by Mark Serrels/CNET

screen-shot-2020-09-09-at-3-31-37-pm.png

Amazing.


Screenshot by Mark Serrels/CNET

[Shudder]

Discussing my purchase online with friends, I found I wasn’t alone. Many of them had also succumbed, purchasing ninja pants — different pants from different companies — but ninja pants nonetheless. We huddled together in ninja pants solidarity, but something strange happened.

Their ninja pants arrived and mine… didn’t.

I had the tracking order. One day after buying my ninja pants they moved from one random spot in China to another area of China and just… stayed there. For weeks. So I sent an email.

Yo, where the hell are my ninja pants?

A few days later a reply. This was normal, sometimes they can take up to eight weeks.

Eight weeks? Eight WEEKS?

Then the kicker…

“As a small token of honor and as a mark of apology,” read the email, “we offer a 15% discount to you on your next purchase order with us.”

Not only did they try to normalize ridiculous shipping delays, they tried to apologise by selling me MORE ninja pants. Trust me, this is the first and last time I’ll be buying ninja pants from anyone, let alone a company that reckons it takes eight weeks to ship pants from China to Australia.

Then — finally — after six weeks of waiting, the magic day came. 

My “casual harem pants” arrived.

And they sucked. Big time.

These things looked like a $10 pair of pajamas from Wal-Mart. At best. They were dramatically oversized. The material was shoddy, the pockets felt like two plastic shopping bags. I bought a small (because I’m small) and these things didn’t come close to fitting right. Worse, they were already coming apart at the seams.

“Oh…” said my wife, as I gazed into the dark abyss of ninja pants inspired rage. “You got ripped off.”

She’s right. I did. Big time. Folks, I made a huge mistake.

And I’m still living with the consequences. To this day, Facebook and Instagram, sniffing around my legs like horndog street mutts. They still believe I’m thirsty for ninja pants and they refuse to let up. The algorithms smell blood. They’ve  sensed weakness and they’re here to finish me off.

And there’s nothing I can do. Learn from my mistakes, don’t follow the beat of that death march. I am in hell and ninja pants is the poorly made aesthetic of Satan himself. Scroll past those pants, swipe as fast as your fingers can swipe and never, ever look back. 

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