As an ever-growing portion of our experiences happen online, the deterministic, systems-thinking-based logic of digital platform design is shaping how the wider public thinks. In other words, we begin to think like coders, a profession in which autistic people both excel (due to their natural ability to systematize) and tend to be over-represented. While the autistic/coder mode of thinking has certain benefits, it can be biased towards an absolutist belief in the accurate determinism of models as well as “systems solutionism,” causing issues when applied to complex human social behavior like dating and community building more generally. The quantification and systematizing of sexual attraction by the Pick Up Artist / Men’s Rights Activism community, and the reductionist categorizing and hierarchizing of identity by certain online groups of both racists and anti-racists can be interpreted as a symptom of coder creep.
“Quant creep” is the ever-increasing registration of our daily life and larger world as numerical data in an attempt to formalize models or markets - FitBits, Screen Time, ideal spine to buttocks angles for women and mandibular planar angles for men. A particular aspect of CODER CREEP, sometimes collected altogether as “computation creep,” these terms are usually deployed pejoratively in response to a growing imperative to measure and prescribe models for all aspects of human behavior in a way that feels forebodingly deterministic, reductionist, and hubristic in its refusal of chaos and mystery.
LIL INTERNET: But the narrative behind it was this, like, any power imbalance whatsoever in relationships, is now like a cancelable offense, which is, I guess, is the Jon Rafman story, but it's like, I mean, that gets ridiculous really quickly.
Daniel Keller: I'm sorry, but your follower count, just really...this is just too unfair for me to groom you if you're a sub-1000-follower account...
LI: The Jacobin people were talking about, like, how that would render any interracial relationship fraught, or any interracial sexual encounter, [due to the] power imbalance. Like, it's, it's just... I mean, it's autism creep. And [we are] talking about this, though, as a larger phenomenon, as a computer game. And as a sort of aspect of this obsession with classification and hierarchy, which I think is like an autism creep phenomenon that's coming, you know, out of the internet and the way it organizes our cognition.
DK: It's either you define hierarchy and reify it or you define the hierarchy with some, you know, goal of dismantling it somehow, by defining it so intensely that it becomes dismantled somehow, by will...I mean, both of those things, obviously, are very fraught.
LI: It's strange how classification and categorization is such a key part of fascism, and also just how anti-queer it is. And there seems to be this paradoxical sort of balancing of like this obsession with classification and categorization. Meanwhile, this sort of obsession with like spotting crypto fascism....meanwhile, [an embrace of] queerness, which is a total defiance of categorization, I just don't see how you can actually hold all this together in any cohesive way.