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Media

Day 281 and Villains

This is a post that will have spoilers about the end of the second season of Ted Lasso. Do not read any further if you have not seen it. I’ll put an extra paragraph to keep it from your eyes and we can meet again tomorrow.

SPOILERS BELOW

The first season of Ted Lasso may be one of the most perfect seasons of television ever made. It’s like being inside the best session of therapy you’ve ever had. The kind where you have a breakthrough so profound that the hurt and agony of your worst childhood trauma suddenly feels not only bearable but also the reason to fully love yourself. It’s just that good on the emotional truth scale. The warmth and safety and growth is beautiful.

But season two leans into tropes and villainy where it used to rely on nuance and kindness. Rather than feeling the pride and hope of emotional truth that has been hard gotten (the truth will set you free but first it will piss you off), we are given the obvious end of Nate betraying Ted and Rebecca by going to coach for Rupert’s new team West Ham.

Nate makes a massive accusation that Ted abandoned Nate emotionally but we are given roughly thirty seconds to wrack our brains for these betrayals before it is revealed that Nate has chosen to abandon Ted. How do we feel about this? Wouldn’t we normally explore how both people contributed to the feeling? But nope it’s send Nate right into insecure narcissistic reactivity rather than mine for the potential nuance.

We could have been given a story where we see Nate and Ted equally participating in the traumas they each carry and how it affects their relationship. Ted with his fear of abandonment brought on by his father’s suicide very well may play out that pattern of abandonment on Nate. But that’s left largely unexplored. Perhaps it could have shown us how Nate intuitively sees that because of Ted’s unresolved pain with his father, Ted in fact isn’t fully there for Nate in his new role as a surrogate father figure coach.

The struggles of a young man coping with a new position and unexpected authority granted by father figure like Ted juxtaposed against Nate’s own issue with his father who doesn’t show him respect would have been an empathetic story in the hands of this show.

There was so much fertile ground for how each character could trigger emotions in the other and for how they could own and resolve these feelings. But instead it’s straight to villain don’t pass to don’t collect 200 dollars. By the end I wasn’t even sad about the loss. I’d resigned myself to the conclusion. But they could have done so much better by everyone. Even if Nate must experience his darker impulses we would have been wiling to see the full journey of how he arrived there and the pain other’s traumas has inadvertently wrecked on Nate.

I guess I’m not sad. I’m just disappointed. And that’s how you know it really mattered to me.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture Media

Day 251 or NYFW SS08

Today is Star Trek day. The original series debuted 55 years ago. I was searching for a photo of myself as a child wearing a captain’s uniform to commemorate it and instead stumbled upon a file containing my old WordPress blog. So rather than find an adorable picture of me in a red jumpsuit I found this picture from September 10th 2007 waiting for the Marc Jacob’s fashion show.

Several invitations to Marc Jacob’s fashion show for his spring 2008 collection seen from above. A blackberry, an iPhone & a recorder are scattered between wine glasses, a carton of cigarettes and two arms.

I used to be a fashion blogger you see. I have a few dubious CV distinctions, one of which is being the first person to live blog fashion week (at least according to Women’s Wear Daily). In the late aughts just before the Great Recession, it was a hell of a time to work in fashion and I wanted in. Being utterly unqualified I did what any kid would do and started a new media company. It went pretty well, we turned it into an ad tech company, sold it, and survived “RIP good times” but before all of that I partied professionally. A lot of business in fashion used to get done over drinks in fancy hotel lobbies while we all clutched our Blackberries.

This particular photo represents a time when Condé Nast still mattered. I was at the Mercer Hotel with my friend Lauren Goldstein Crowe (also apparently economic writer Felix Solomon). My friend Lauren was the newly installed fashion columnist for the new glossy magazine about money called Portfolio Magazine. We were killing time in the then trendy Soho hotel before the always reliably two hours late Marc Jacob’s show.

I don’t actually remember if I legitimately had an invitation or if I snuck in with Lauren that season. Back in 2007, if you can believe it, social media was considered very uncouth and no one has begun writing “bloggers are taking over the front row” thought pieces yet. Could have gone either way.

Portfolio was the last hurrah of the print behemoths, a glossy magazine dedicated to the culture of finance, so naturally I was appreciative that I could tag along with my much better financed friend. Condé Nast reported spent 100m on the magazine and I appreciate that some small portion of that went to drinks before the fashion of the season. Lauren is an especially erudite editor, of the sort who writes deeply studied long form work, so the fact that Condé Nast was paying to send her to fashion week was pretty decadent. She wasn’t a mid tier market editor who needed to see the clothes. She covers culture so the entire milieu was her domain. The gossip before the shows absolutely counted.

Of course, the business of media couldn’t support that sort of thing forever with changing advertising models and Condé Nast didn’t really keep up with the times. It’s a real loss. People like me ended up winning and it’s been perhaps a net loss for some things that were valuable cultural artifacts.

I spent no more than a couple grand getting our rinky dink operation up and running. We still managed to publish faster than anyone else. I had several meltdowns in service of that effort. In hindsight it was probably a waste but it felt so very new and urgent to be publishing things at the very second a look went down the runway. Now fashion week is an exercise in instant publishing and live-streaming everything from a million perspectives. But the actual studied writers don’t get expense accounts and drivers and corporate Blackberries anymore. If they are lucky maybe they have a blog with a subscription. Lauren knew it even then. She and I slowly occupied the same basic space in the ecosystem. She was just 15 years ahead of seeing it.

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Finance Internet Culture Media Politics

Day 219 and Crypto’s Publicist

Most industries have interest groups. Publicists, lobbyists, and spokespeople weave together stories, talking points and preferred legislative agendas. Anyone or any group is free to discuss why their preferred business or issue is worthwhile and convince others of their view. We have a marketplace of ideas. Sure, not all interests are good but anyone is free to promote what they believe in. So why aren’t we doing anything for our cause in the crypto community? I say it’s time crypto had a publicist.

Not every country allows for this. The crypto community has an obligation to recognize that when we fight for our own interests it isn’t just we who benefit. The entire world benefits from open, decentralized and permission-less systems. What we do benefits everyone who wants to live in a freer world. It’s time crypto had our own activist DAO to protect and promote our values.

I am proposing the formation of an activist DAO promoting the use of crypto. Our goal is to advocate for positive popular culture narratives about crypto. We vote on our issues, stories and key initiatives through the DAO’s native governance tokens. The DAO will hire publicists and communication professionals to promote our stories in mainstream media along with commissioning content meme-ers and creators to share opinions. Policy is crucial but public perception is faster and pushes the right policy down the right.

As place holder I’ve purchased CryptoCommsCoalition.org. The Crypto Communication Coalition. I am working on a shared collaboration doc in Google Sheets to collect input, feedback, and priorities. Anyone who is interested can participate in our effort. Email me Julie @ crypto comms coalition dot org or DM me on Twitter.

We need DAO creation specialists, legal experts, memers, streamers, Reddidters, governance folks, publicists, lobbyists, fundraisers and a thousand other specialists I haven’t thought of yet. This won’t be easy but it’s an eating our own dog food moment for crypto. We can use our own tools to advocate in a participatory, transparent and open way for our own interests. If banking and big oil can can afford publicists then so can we. gmi.

Categories
Media

Day 171 and Publicists

I have a number of portfolio companies and clients for whom I do some of their public relations work. I don’t advertise myself as a publicist but I am very good at the work. I typically only do strategic work and media relations so please don’t ask me to pitch you.

The tricky part is usually convincing the people I work with to trust my instincts and not, you know, the actual act of working with the media. I do a lot of heavy lifting and training to prepare people to have something useful to say in public.

People who have no experience getting attention typically struggle emotionally with the fact that they don’t necessarily matter to the media. They get grumpy that people who they perceive as being “less” get coverage they don’t deserve.

Of course, we don’t always know what is going on behind the scenes. We don’t know what stories were told to writers or by whom. And attention tends to beget attention. So once someone is featured regularly in the media they tend to stay there. They become a trusted source.

But becoming one of those characters that gets quoted or featured a lot is hard work. Occasionally you get a lucky break, but it’s a bit like getting hired for an entry level job that requires two years of experience. It seems impossible! They are two distinct states right? Either you have experience or you are entry level. The same problem exists in media.

There is a tension in how public relations works and how media sees it’s subjects. To get featured in the press you need to be either ubiquitous or “newly discovered” and no you cannot be both. Those are distinct states.

If you haven’t yet been covered you are definitionally not ubiquitous. I know seems obvious right? But that means it’s much harder to get quoted as an expert or featured in lists or others become part of a story. The regular mentions in media usually go to people who are already trusted sources. So how do you become a trusted source? You need to be discovered.

Being a new fresh face with a brand new story is catnip to media. So if you have a good story it tends to benefit you to keep that story under wraps until you find a media outlet that will give you enough attention to justify telling your story. You want a feature that can deliver you to ubiquity. Because once you tell it you will no longer be “discoverable” any more. I guess it’s a little bit like how purity culture religions think of virginity. And yes this process feels as icky.

This means you need to make the jump from discoverable new face straight to ubiquitous to get the kind of regular media coverage you imagine a publicist can secure for you. It’s a weird quantum state situation. And top tier publicists are often quite good at threading that needle to get you from new story to phenomena. It doesn’t just happen though. It’s strategic and planned out like a military campaign.

That’s why publicists sign longer term contracts. If they deliver small stories that can be placed in a month long contract they cannot deliver you a big feature. Features take weeks if not months. A research piece takes a long time. A glossy spread in Vogue is usually pitched 3-4 months in advance.

So the temptation is to go for short stories. Those are good right? Well not always. Tell your big story in something small that has less attention then you’ve lost your shot at ubiquity. Doing little stories that didn’t break you into public consciousness, in your eagerness to just get covered now, means you wasted your shot. You’ve been featured just enough that reporters won’t perceive you as being a fresh new face. No reporter wants to tell the same story as another. So you’ve screwed yourself without even realizing it.

So do yourself a favor if you want to get attention. Listen to the advice of the professionals. Being a media darling doesn’t usually just happen. And it’s often on the advice and planning of professionals that probably know more than you do.

Categories
Internet Culture Media

Day 111 and The Attention Economy

I like media. When I first moved to New York I had big dreams of getting hired to work at Condé Nast. This was almost immediately crushed by the reality that I was of average financial wealth (I moved to the city with about $500 and lived in a women’s SRO), not from a noteworthy family and notoriously poor at respecting authority.

But I was lucky enough to arrive in the media capital of the world just as blogging was turning into a cultural phenomenon. So it turns out I didn’t need to work for some bitchy queens to get a toehold in the industry! I was also wise enough to realize there was absolutely no fucking money in media early on so I watched many of my peers climb the ladder in new media jobs without being a member of the media myself.

I found ways to make money on marketing, branding, e-commerce and new media businesses. It was a lot more lucrative. Consequently I now have a large number of media friends (disclosure time) without any of the cultural baggage of being in media. Unless you count the time I was the first person to livestream fashion week. Which I didn’t technically have credentials to do but it got covered in Women’s Wear Daily.

I’m really grateful I never got suckered into actually being in media as I’d probably be broke, miserable and exhausted. And then if I admitted I was exhausted I’d have a bunch of the older generation of media folks dunking on me for saying that. Which is how I got into a shitposting thread with Glenn Greenwald today. Who I think might actually be in on the joke about grifter click culture.

If you don’t work in media I think you’ve got an inflated sense of their power and independence. It’s actually hard to make any money so you are always living at the whim of executives and editors. Most of them got into the business to tell crucial stories (naive but like good) and are stuck living at the mercy of a business that isn’t that lucrative.

A lot of bad faith arguments get made equating institutional power to individual power, and while it’s true having the power of the New York Times behind you matters, it’s also true that any random blogger like me has more freedom to pursue ideas than a staffer at a newspaper. So I think it’s sort of a reflection of insecurities anytime anyone gets worked up about media power. Especially if you know better as some of the older media folks like Greenwald do. These beat reporter exist in hierarchies with bills. They don’t have the freedom to shitpost like me or Glenn Greenwald. We are wealthy and independent. Beat writers are fighting constant turf wars just to stay employed.

It can also be true that beat reporters have to fight a constant battle for attention and clicks in order to stay employed. This means we get culture warriors and posturing. But both sides of each debate are engaged in a kind of elaborate attention grift. So when Taylor Lorenz or Glenn Greenwald or Matt Taibbi sucker you in with a position on who is most virtuous the answer is whoever pays them. And guess who is paying? You and me. Our attention is getting monetized into all kinds of nifty revenue streams. I know this because that’s how I make my money. So next time you get worked up about the evils of media asking yourself why you are paying attention and who is benefiting.

Categories
Internet Culture Media

Day 95 and Context Collapse

I have reasonably high social intelligence. Yes I’m willing to flex on this. I’m able to suss out the contours of most situations quickly and code switch my language, aesthetic and context cues. Sure as a white woman in America’s vast “upper middle class” many social interactions and norms are designed for my comfort. But I spend time in spaces that are very much designed to exclude like finance. But I rarely feel out of place as I can find some point of intersection that allows me to find purchase with the leader (or norm setter) that sets a group’s context. To say that this is beneficial is an understatement.

I recently came across a piece of writing titled “A Theory of Collision Spaces” written by scientist who goes by the handle Generativist. The intended audience is folks who think probabilistically or at least have a firm grounding in computational thinking but if you have a head for logic you should be fine. The topic is how social media can do often lead to what is called “context collapse” but you might recognize as “people screaming at each other in bad faith in the comments section.”

The premise of context collapses is that online we may theoretically interact with infinite possible audiences. Infinite contexts makes it much harder for us to adjust or code switch such that we can telegraph that we care about the audience to whom we are speaking. It’s not impossible but it’s much harder. This is how one can make a statement that sounds innocuous but will end up pissing off some group that will come down hard on you. If the reaction is bad enough some audiences call it cancel culture.

Because I have a high social intelligence I’m less prone to getting caught in a context collapse situations. A quick scan of a profile and a few sentences of text is generally enough for me to subtly adjust my language and response. Of course, I cannot adjust for how others respond to me but I can respond to how they respond to me.

Think if it as second derivative social signaling. Limiting the possible permutations enables safety driven actions on my part. While I cannot survive an internet mob (no one can) even a tweet that goes reasonably viral is still bounded by social cues. The more adaptive you are at these cues the less likely you are to instigate a context collapse.

A lot of reasonable people have concluded that context collapse and internet mobs make social interactions on the internet too risky. The likelihood of encountering someone who will go splat against your reality and make a fucking thing out of it is none zero.

But I’d argue you have a weighting bias issue for the magnitude of the risk. You are much more likely to build something of worth from being social than you are to become “canceled” and I think this Theory of Collision Spaces essay just might convince even the twitchiest rationalist groupie. Why? Ensemble learning and computer mediated relationships are super powers for humans. Our ability to extend our thinking has two powerful tools in this era. We can learn from others. And our tools like our computers and their application layer act as extensions of our mind. But don’t my word for it. Nothing I can say will remotely compare to the paper as I’m just not as smart as this scientist.

So you get that social media has many opportunities for expanding our mind. So how do we become comfortable with the perceived risk? One point I want to get across here is that assuming all interactions online are bad makes for poor heuristics. So why is it not as risky as you think?

Social cues mal-adaptively increase the unconditional variance of expressions while minimizing the group-conditioned variance.

Basically social media makes you lean into identity cues. We fight with negative identity opponents and align with positive identity proponents. The only issue? You might be talking to someone like me that code switches. “You cannot easily distinguish between unreliable counterparties, deceptive ones, and whether or not you are wrong.” So you could be talking to someone deliberately fucking with you, someone who legitimately just misunderstand or you yourself might be wrong. How do you know? You don’t really. All this “in group” signaling doesn’t make a ton of difference. It’s just the environment of the internet honing some badly social engineered aspects that are not inherent to the human mind or social behavior.

So go read that piece. Tell me what you think. And then go enjoy being social on the internet! Don’t let being wrong or being polarized scare you. We are still figuring out how being part machine mediated. A few bumps are to be expected

Categories
Aesthetics Chronicle Internet Culture Media

Day 87 and Information Processing

I occasionally enjoy dropping a deliberately provocative tweet just to see where people will land on rorsach wordings. I particularly like ones that can be read depending on your place in cultural issues haven’t reached consensus. which is exactly why people get angry. I did this on a whim yesterday asking “is listening to audiobooks reading?”

About 70% of folks said yes. 30% said no. But the reasons why were fascinating. The majority probably doesn’t care about semantics (the minority do which I will get to) but a good chunk cares about the connotations associated with how we learn or retain information. Mostly as a function of diversity and inclusion as many folks find reading to be inaccessible for reasons of neurodivergence or focus.

I relate as I don’t process audio easily so prefer subtitles and transcripts. Sometimes I feel bad about this as folks occasionally moralize about the value of mediums I don’t find accessible. There are plenty of things that I can’t engage with or experience in its original form because of disability. I’m just not particularly angry about it. But I am also left with all of the high prestige ways of consuming culture and none of the lowbrow. Like bummer I don’t have podcasts but I still have Dostoyevsky

That’s ultimately the interesting point about asking if reading and listening are similar. What do we consider to be higher processing? And does that matter? Some folks definitely moralized on the issue on. It’s sides. If you retain the information who cares how you got it. And accessibility is its own value. Pop culture is arguably more important because of its accessibility. This is why memes are folk art. They produce a very low loss form of high meaning to content ratio

A third of folks wanted about the definition used. A lot of semantics of information consumption. If you fall into the camp of caring about how we discuss information processing there is an amazing book called the Alphabet and the Goddess: The Conflict between Word and Image about the transition from image to binary communication and the changes in our neurological structures by a surgeon called and Leonard Schlain.

Like the actual debate about what types of processing is happening and how it affects our structures is worth having. But so much of Twitter boils down to the moral scolds and the rage woke fighting over ideas of worth and assigning value and status. I’d rather discuss how our minds process and that impacts the trajectory of our civilizations.

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Chronicle Internet Culture Media Startups

Day 84 and The Thursday Styles Problem

The Thursdays Styles problem is about zeitgeist, wealth perception and power. The New York Times publishes its “styles” section on Thursdays and Sundays. Generally speaking if you work in media, public relations or culture you are aware of the general trends that will emerge on Thursday ahead of time. For the sake of argument let’s say I know directionally on Tuesday what will be featured on Thursday.

If you know “what everyone knows everyone knows” ahead of time there is a lot of money to be made a Tuesday person. For more on the second derivative issues in zeitgeist I highly recommend Epsilon Theory. If you can sense the zeitgeist ahead of time & move to take advantage of it you can be a Tuesday person. Alas it’s not as lucrative as you may imagine to be a Tuesday person. A Thursday person who lives exactly on the zeitgeist can take advantage of the moment culture moves. Good entrepreneurs do this well. Most consumer companies hit “right on time.”

This is why venture capitalists will ask “why now” as they may have invested in a Tuesday Person who hit the zeitgeist too early and couldn’t capitalize on it. It really pisses off the founder who knows “but I was first.”

As a Tuesday person I hate when this happens. I loathe seeing people I perceive as less capable or intelligent than me hit a zeitgeist moment exactly on Thursday. The trouble is they are right. They won. They got the timing right. I didn’t.

And yes being a Thursday mover is good. But it’s crucial to understand who can win this game. The only way to win the Thursday Styles problem is to be in finance, media or culture work that can place a call option on the Thursday future on Tuesday. You have to be able to hold an opinion on the future zeitgeist long enough for Thursday to get published.

If you cannot hold your zeitgeist long enough for Tuesday to become Thursday when “everyone knows everyone knows” being right early serves no benefit. You need diamond hands. And yes you will be wrong 9 times out of 10. If the New York Times cuts a piece and it takes another week can you hold out? If the markets don’t make a Tuesday idea hit can you wait till it becomes common knowledge on that metaphorical Thursday?

It requires patience to be a Tuesday person. Knowing you will look wrong for a bit. That you will lose money when Tuesday knowledge takes longer to become Thursday Style’s common knowledge. If you can hold it’s the ultimate form of future leverage. That’s alpha.

And better yet it’s “possible” to manipulate. Publicists make their clients on Tuesday shine on Thursday. And capture the upside. Folks who are extremely online spot how market makers make zeitgeist hit. Cathie Wood at ARK Innovations has been playing the media in exactly this way. The largest experiment in making Tuesday thinkers hit before Thursday is Margit Wennmachers at a16z. Centralizing zeitgeist and monetizing it with future calls with narratives they tell on platforms they own stakes in has massive potential. The smart money is turning their Tuesday zeitgeist into Thursday Styles and taking it to the bank.

Categories
Chronicle Media Politics

Day 83 and Tribalism

For what are probably obvious reasons (a mass shooting inside a grocery store a few miles from my home) I’ve been trying to keep off of political media the past day or so.

I’ve mostly succeeded but it’s a challenge when my primary relaxation space, Twitter, is saturated with commentary on a topic I don’t want to discuss with anyone that isn’t also living through the trauma personally. It’s not even that I don’t want to hear from folks it’s more that even if you have had a similar tragedy in your community your reaction may not be the same as ours. Every trauma is unique even when cultural circumstances may not be.

I bring this up only because I realized today when a new app claiming to analyze your news bubble filter went viral I didn’t know what folks “thought that I thought” about politics. The app said I was 100% leftist in my filter. My immediate reaction was “bullshit” in that I probably tweet once a day “as a libertarian” and regularly discuss my views on small government. So I asked folks what direction they thought I leaned. There is not a lot of consensus so far.

I follow and am followed by a very diverse group of people. I probably follow everything from alt-right fanatics to avowed socialists. I socialize with bro-science masculine fitness folks and queer chronic disease and disability advocates. So I’m not surprised I am hard to place. If you are a trad life carnivore on a homestead your opinion on my politics is probably pretty different than if you are a healthcare for all anti-ableism urbanite. I work with Silicon Valley folks and venture capitalists and the New York media establishment. Finance and the press corp are not generally politically aligned so unsurprisingly those two groups may also think I’m in a very different place on the spectrum. To someone at war with the media I may look left wing. To someone in the media I may look right wing. And yes this comes out in the wash as centrist.

The reality is that I have fairly nuanced views and your take on my leanings may say more about how much you like me and thus how much you want me to agree with you. This is for a nice reason. We tend to like the people we agree with more.

So it’s possible if you want me to like you then you may assign me views that are more aligned with yours than I am in reality. Don’t fret though we can strongly disagree and I will still like you. If we have fun together on social media I don’t need you to agree with me on social or political issues. I spend time on social precisely because I do like all kinds of people and I want to enjoy that incredible diversity of humanity. And we are all here because in the end the only thing that keeps the loneliness at bay is each other.

Categories
Chronicle Media Preparedness

Day 82 and Tragedy

Around 3:30pm MTN yesterday I heard sirens. I didn’t think much of it at first as I’m used to the noises of Manhattan even six months into relocating back to my hometown of Boulder. Then I got a text from a friend in Texas “you aren’t at the grocery store are?”

I asked what store. “Where?” And I scrambled onto Twitter. The Boulder Police Department had posted that they were responding to an active shooter situation at the King Soopers on Table Mesa. I told my friend no I was at home but the grocery store was just 2-3 miles down the road. We had picked up takeout from the shopping center just yesterday from a favorite pub Southern Sun. It’s a staple of the community. I had dinner at its sister restaurant Mountain Sun after I ditched prom in high school. One of the servers snuck us a beer in our hideous outfits even though it was clear we were in high school. The detail feels important for some reason. I don’t know why.

I quickly found a livestream and police scanners to monitor. I opened the door to our porch and heard the unmistakable sound of helicopters. It was the “whack whack whack” of the blades that made me realize it was serious. News choppers wouldn’t be on scene so fast. But medical response scrambles fast. Especially in Colorado where search and rescue leans on helicopters for rough terrain.

My husband Alex was on a call I couldn’t interrupt but I desperately wanted to get his attention. Partially, and I’m sure this will upset a few people, because I wanted to make sure he retrieved and loaded his daily carry. A small part of me considered whether we should break out body armor and get further into our interior rooms. The police had asked folks to avoid the area and stay home.

I closed the curtains so I wasn’t likely to catch the attention of anyone on Pearl Street below. I wanted to be away from windows and with barriers between me and the street. We’d actually given thought to this kind of emergency which is why we own guns and armor. We don’t advertise it but the threat of unrest and violence is something we plan for in our preparedness efforts. Especially in the wake of the January 6th insurrection it’s felt wise to be armed.

America fixates on gun violence. But not the kind that happens in areas with crime or drug violence. We like a media circus around mass shootings. Especially if it involves children. You see this isn’t my first mass shooting. I lived in Boulder during Columbine. I still remember the lockdown at school as we got word. Kids whispering who they knew. Who went there. I’ve seen this before. I’ve had proximity before. I don’t even want to get into it here as it makes my family sound a little cursed when I recount the close calls. But maybe it’s normal and other Americans have had similar close calls.

I was shaken all night as the news got reported. I checked in with my family. The only person who wasn’t worried was my mom. She knew we didn’t go grocery shopping on the South Side of town. She hadn’t considered that we would do pick up at the Mountain Sun. I spent an hour pulling tarot cards with a friend to keep my mind off of social media. We watched the press conference. We put our phones outside of the bedroom so we couldn’t doomscroll.

I had already become incensed by a viral tweet from Meena Harris the sister of Vice President Harris discussing the urgent need for gun control. Urgent my ass I thought. Why can’t any community have its tragedy and be graced to account for its grief in peace? Why do we need to discuss policy and regulations when I don’t even know the names of who was murdered yet? Fuck off Meena Harris these are my neighbors.

Without my phone and thanks to the wonders of Ativan I slept well. I woke up to a new press conference. A phone full of national news alerts. Great, I thought, the New York Times is going to fixate on this isn’t it. I had texts from all over the world. People I play games with online had heard the news. People wanted to know how I was. I wasn’t great.

We got names in the morning. I recognized one name but I wasn’t sure if it was the aunt of a schoolmate or just had a similar name. I went on Facebook. It was a different woman. Media frenzy was at a peek as we learned 10 people were dead. Somehow this was worse than the originally reported 6. It felt more mass. I got a new round of texts from folks. As if it wasn’t clear how bad it was last night.

I knew there would be attention and media. A mass shooting in a wealthy white liberal town with a history of trying to pass municipal ordinances against assault weapons is zeitgeist bait. Of course the narrative isn’t quite true. I wondered if the media knew that Table Mesa was in the shitty side of town. That a town like Boulder even has a shitty side. Alex thought the shooting was further away than it was because when we were house hunting I said I wouldn’t consider living on the south or east sides of town. Those parts of town had been othered by me and I didn’t even realize it. Because I prioritized us living in the “good” parts of town. I wanted to live where my childhood self had dreamed I would live a kid. Whether it was conscious or not I wanted to live in the wealthiest, whitest and safest part of town. I didn’t feel guilty about it at the time. It seemed prudent and I had always wanted to live on Pearl Street. As a teenager I worked on the local tv station’s documentary about its history. My mother saved the poster for the 25th anniversary which now hangs on my wall. That was in 2002. A lot of time has passed.

Of course the coverage is sensational. I should have known it would be. The media tends to prioritize wealthy liberal white lives. Boulder is a wealthy liberal white place for better or worse. Add in the A-15 for the shock value (for some reason they really freak out folks who don’t own guns) and the fact that it was in a grocery store and we’ve got the ideal blend of fear and banality. Grocery stores have been the safe place of the pandemic. A shooting at a grocery store felt particularly violent. So he’s is all anyone was going to talk about today.

Despite it not being something that was happening to any of them. It was however happening to me and Alex. We live here. This is our town. This tragedy belonged to Boulder and everyone who calls it home. I felt like we deserved to grieve in peace. To have our anger.

But I was going to have to live through everyone I knew demanding gun control on social media. Talking heads butting in. Because American media treats these acts of senseless violence as if it’s a shared moment to discuss gun policy. But it’s not. It’s a time for the people affected to have their own feelings without the glare of political opportunism. I knew this in a hazy sense before but I know it in a visceral way now. This shooting isn’t your opportunity. It’s our tragedy. I turned off my phone and slept all afternoon after finishing my workload. I felt too sad to be conscious. And everything hurt.