Who Are Your Chrises?

Following Twitter’s data trail from the Fab Five to Captain America.

A screenshot of the author's Twitter follow suggestions: Chris Cillizza, Chris Davis, Chris Evans, Chris Hayes, Chris Webber
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images, Tara Ziemba/Getty Images, William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images, Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images, and Larry Busacca/Getty Images.

I was trying to figure out whether I could make the new Twitter layout show me the latest tweets forever, instead of constantly reverting to showing me what Twitter thinks are the tweets I should see, and that sent me blundering into the Twitter preferences menus, where I ended up looking at my list of what Twitter believes I’m “interested in.”

“These are some of the interests matched to you based on your profile and activity,” Twitter’s explanation at the top read. “You can adjust them if something doesn’t look right.”

Did the list look right? Like most summaries of data mining are, it was an unsettling mixture of items that felt like someone had read them over my shoulder and items that bore no relationship to anything I could remember having thought about. The first name on the list was “Aaron Blake,” which I halfway confused with Aaron Brooks but who Google tells me is a political journalist, unless it’s the Aaron Blake who sings tenor at the Met Opera, but I don’t think La Traviata was one of the ones we went to see?

There was a nice run in the B’s of “Badminton - Baking - Ballet - Barack Obama - Bari Weiss - Barry Bonds,” but the truly oracular moment arrived down in the C’s:

Chris Cillizza
Chris Davis
Chris Evans
Chris Hayes
Chris Webber

“Chris Evans” was another mystery, one of those Chrises I’ve heard of but can’t keep straight—apparently he’s the Captain America one?—but the others were depressingly accurate bracketing fire around what happens in my Twitter. There was the guy with the absurdly expensive contract whose complete, humiliating inability to do his job has dragged his franchise down to ruin; there was also the first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles. The Chrises Webber and Hayes read like a warning from my pre-internet self to my post-internet self of who I’d become.

I asked other people what Chrises Twitter had put on their lists. Slate senior writer Ashley Feinberg had Cillizza and Hayes, followed by Chris Martin, Chris Murphy, and Chris Pratt. Technology editor Jonathan L. Fischer had Chris Martin and only Chris Martin. National editor Josh Levin had Hayes, Webber, and Chris Pratt—aka Star-Lord, not Captain America. Slate Live executive producer Faith Smith had Cillizza, Hayes, Pratt, and Chris Hemsworth, adding Thor to the Twitter-induced Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Who are your Chrises? Check “Settings” > “Content preferences” > “Personalization and data” > “Your Twitter data” > “Interests and ads data” > “Interests from Twitter” and scroll down to learn.