Categories
Aesthetics

Day 485 and Reality Shows

I’ve been watching Netflix’s reality dating shows this past week. I’m absolutely obsessed with the Nick and Vanessa Lachey properties in which twenty and thirty somethings do preposterous social experiments because they want to be married that badly. I’ve now watched Love is Blind and the Ultimatum.

I’m not typically a reality show person. I’m a yuppie startup bro living in the golden age of prestige tv. I like expensive scripted dramas and the media has provided me with ample options. But I’ve often wondered how much I’m missing out on popular culture by avoiding reality television.

I’ve got girlfriends who are obsessed with the Bachelor but I’ll be honest I’ve never been able to focus on unscripted tv. I admire the hell out of the product empire the Kardashians have built but I’ve never actually watched their anchor television show. There is clearly a deep cultural cross current that reality television has in America and I’ve largely let it pass me by. Well except for having to live through the Trump administration.

I’m particularly interested in how these reality shows reflect our cultural desires. I wrote this week about how the vibe shift is showing an emerging camp of right wing counter culture. The single minded obsession with marriage and traditional family structures in both Love is Blind and the Ultimatum make me think they both reflect the cultural power of traditionalism. Twenty five year olds offering ultimatums to their partners that they must get married now is a bit wild to me as a geriatric millennial. It was considered a bit retro to be married before 30 during the Girlboss new left Obama years. That’s clearly changed.

I’m curious what else is changing culturally that will be reflected in reality television. Love is the most universal so perhaps I’m projecting a bit on the medium. Maybe marriage is easier to transpose onto unscripted television. But I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of other traditionalist vibe camps that will arise on America’s favorite entertainment genre.

Categories
Biohacking Medical

Day 483 and Medical Logistics

As you probably know, everything about the American medical system is a pain in the ass. I was expecting a delivery last night of a medicine that needs to be refrigerated. I went to bed assuming it never came. I woke up this morning to find it has been left out outside all night.

A $5000 dollar dose biologics injection (that’s only $150 in Europe) got left at door I don’t use without a knock. Thank god it didn’t get porch pirated as I cannot afford to replace it. I discovered the medicine this morning when going out for an espresso as it was left in dry ice by the basement door. Just a little chaos for the start of a day filled with other medical logistics.

Today is the day I pick up my prescription refills for the month. I have to do it once a month instead of a convenient quarterly by post situation as I take several controlled substances of which I’m not allowed to have more than a 30 day supply. It’s a real pain in the ass to travel for this reason as it has to be organized around when my insurance and the government will allow me to do so. If I want to be on the road for six weeks or go to Europe for more than a month I’m shit out of luck.

I take a lot of prescriptions to manage my chronic illness. I wish I didn’t need any of them. If I’m honest I put a lot of effort into wellness and lifestyle as part of a long term effort to ween off the pharmaceuticals like my biologic anti-inflammatory injections. I don’t want to be left for dead in a crisis as I’ve got no illusions that we will protect the sick and vulnerable. I protect myself.

I have to do the pharmacy dance now whether I like it or not. I have to take half a day to make sure everything comes in on the same day and in time for any mitigating factors like travel. I maintain a spreadsheet to keep it all organized. I have to use up valuable energy and focus on something that your average Canadian or German would find comically foreign. And that’s just the way it is and probably will be for sometime.

Categories
Internet Culture Media Politics

Day 482 and Vibe Shift

A month or so ago a piece written by a New York marketing executive titled Vibe Shift went viral among the chattering classes. The premise is that we are on the precipice of a cultural change that is upending everything from politics to fashion. And depending on your perspective, this shift might include crumbling dystopian decay or vibrant fuck it optimism. Or in the case of web3 absolutely both.

I think the Vanity Fair piece on the New Right is chronicling one of the first emergent vibe camps to emerge from the vibe shift. The article is a look at the art, intellectual environment and personalities of the “not quite conservative” new right. And it’s a largely positive even glowing send up.

If you believe the Citadel is a corrupt institution and moral moral crisis then the Vanity Fair piece should have been negative. It’s a surprise that it wasn’t. Not long ago we were subjected to intense narratives about the dangers of nRX neo-reactionaries and it’s infiltration of Silicon Valley. It was a real and urgent issue that the center of so much money and power might doesn’t align with the cultural values of media or academia. If you don’t speak this language the Citadel is code for the left leaning creative and cultural institutions like Hollywood, academia and media.

So why isn’t it a crisis any more that there is a new breed of influential “not quite” conservatives? If anything the right in America has shown itself to be capable of so much more than just boat parades and goofy hats. Some of these fuckers were expanding the Overton window on peaceful transitions of democratic power on January. It might actually be getting worse.

Except now the left fucking sucks too. Now I’m not justifying fascists. These Christian Nationalists are trying to roll back modernity and pluralism. Fuck them. They fuckers don’t even have a demographic majority. So it pains when I say the vibe shift is showing the left as the worst version of themselves while the right is showing a new cultural ascension.

To a lot of normal moderate people the left looks controlling, scolding, frigid, and conformist. Everything from mask politics to gender relations has started to make the left look insane. It’s entirely rational people would be seeking a vibe shift for something more welcoming.

My theory is we are about to see a massive resurgence of affection for all kinds of conservative hobby horses. Especially of vibes that used to be the province of the traditional left. Everyone is sick of being shamed while they go about living their lives. And whoever wins that vibe war will win America.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 480 and Responsibility

I usually have therapy on Mondays. I stack all my emotional work into the first day of the week so I can be my most present for everyone in my life. But today I just couldn’t show up for my emotional work. I’m in a lot of pain and a bunch of things are up in the air professionally and personally. I’m just not able to be here.

Thankfully I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are working on deepening their emotional practice. Someone was able to help me see that I wasn’t able to show up even though I physically showed up. They did it with one insight too.

Responsibility is having ability to respond

One insight and my mind was blown 🤯. In that moment I didn’t realize I didn’t have the ability to respond. I was abdicating responsibility. I was reactive. It wasn’t under my control. I couldn’t preserve my ability to today today. I was not preserving my response ability.

I quietly bowed out of therapy for the evening. Well not so quietly I cried a little and shared my disappointment. I needed to take responsibility for myself in that moment. So in order to preserve my capacity to respond I had to make the decision to bow out. I needed to be the adult that would take care of whatever portion of me was incapable of working through the physical pain of that moment. My inner child needed me to parent and I did. Now hopefully I can continue that streak through mealtime, bath time and bedtime so that my adult and my inner child can respond to the best of our ability to tomorrow.

Categories
Politics

Day 478 and Extremists

Over the past twenty four hours I have spent time in two communities known for attracting extremist viewpoints; immigration reform and education. And I feel a bit demoralized by the level of discourse that I’m having in person.

I attended an event on Friday for an organization I’m excited about as I wrap my head around why the American immigration system is so broken. I wrongly labored under the assumption that our system was flawed and inefficient, but still had the occasional success story. Now I realize it’s a hopelessly broken set of incentives wrapped inside heavy emotional baggage.

I don’t think the average American can conceive of how bad it is until dealing with it personally. And it’s crushing our competitiveness as a country. In twenty years when our population continues to age we will regret not fixing it. It’s actually an existential problem for our country’s future.

But somehow the entire debate centers around comical battleground partisan issues where they argue for the least relatable shit. We will never find common ground if we leave it to the extremes on either side. We are letting a crucial issue get sidelined.

I experienced something similar on the education front as well. Families are arguing over truly crazy shit that you cannot imagine any same adult bringing to a classroom of children. But this manifests in small ways too. We fixate on the purist forms of educational pedagogy instead of being pragmatists about protecting our children’s sense of self.

I only bring this up because sometimes I assume that real life must be better than whatever discourse is happening online. That social media must be reflecting some unnatural tendencies we only see thanks to access. But alas I’m seeing these fights happen in person. In communities that know each other. But we are adopting some of the tenor and habits of “the discourse” with our neighbors. And that worries me a little.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 471 and Masculinity

Much as I cannot stand Tucker Carlson, the man has a gift for getting attention. I came across a truly marvelous advertisement for a new special he produced called “the end of men.” Which, sure, well trod territory if you are extremely online but probably new to his older Fox News audience. The ad is being mercilessly mocked on social media for being homoerotic.

I spent probably an hour this morning discussing the semiotics of this video. It’s just a fascinating cultural artifact of based extremely online masculinity. It claims to be about the decline of testosterone. But what it’s really selling me is an aesthetic about what makes a man.

It’s got the back to the land postlapsarian agrarianism. It’s got raw milk. It’s got meat. It’s got raw eggs being chugged. It’s got blacksmithing and lifting tires. There are ice baths. There are infrared saunas. There is infrared on dicks! Ok that last one was aesthetically out of left field, but it makes for a stunning Messiah image where a guy appears to be charging his dick. He is RISEN! Happy Easter folks.

All of these subculture callouts are speaking to specific niches of men online. There are men who promote raw egg. There are men who promote raw milk. There are the biohackers. There are the Stoics. There are the sun on balls advocates. Being based and pilled is actually an extremely complex signaling exercise.

Much of it in service to reclaiming and owning modern manhood in the face of a feminized world. Testosterone loss is it’s defining through line. I’m sure it could be argued that this obsession is part of the wider discourse on gender identity and the fight between it’s cultural and it’s sexual basis. I just don’t really care because men being pussies is kind of endemic and it’s not a partisan issue.

I myself am sympathetic to the based trad masculinity types. Their aesthetics often overlap in groups in which I’m an enthusiastic participant. The voice over in the ad is discussing hard times that are nearing, giving a little call out to doomer culture. I also believe traditional skills will be necessary in a more chaotic world. I think being prepared is a social good.

I am also a big fan of localism in food and am a drinker of raw milk and eater of pasture raised steak. I use cold therapy to manage my inflammation, which yes sometimes means ice baths. I schedule time in the sun to set my circadian rhythm. And yes I care about my own hormonal balance and rhythms.

I’m not a big fan of fascist curious fan boys like Tucker owning some of my spaces. It’s amusing that back to the land homesteaders have gone from being coded leftist hippies to now being coded as conservative and right wing. Rural living is now contested space. So is healthy living. And honestly that’s really fucked up. Health should be for everyone. But sure let’s laugh at how the video is gay.

Categories
Startups

Day 470 and Social Skills

Startups are just as much about social hacking as they are hacking something technical. We worship the archetypal “coding nerd” who is brilliant but awkward, but in reality building shit requires an awful lot of social finesse.

I meet with a pretty wide range of founders. A lot of them are clever but relatively normal people. But many founders are fucking beyond weird. I see a lot of neurodivergence. But it’s not all towards the awkwardly autistic. Plenty of founders, especially in web3, are almost supernaturally charismatic. No literally it’s magic.

And that magic is good for making something new. The ability to empathize and listen is hugely prized in leadership. Being present and able to socialize in any social context is key to bring diverse groups together. We are much more willing to throw in our resources behind a founder who can rally us together. And this is just objectively good for the startup. Of course investors want to back that kind of person.

I think some people are offended by this reality. We see endless pop culture depictions of narcissistic sociopaths raising shit tons of money and then destroying their companies. I’m honestly a little sick of it. It’s no secret that Silicon Valley, but capitalism on the whole, occasionally rewards charlatans. I don’t think it’s particularly indicative of anything but human nature. Like Fox Mulder I too want to believe.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 469 and the Discourse

On the one hand, the discourse today is horrible. Elon Musk threatening to buy Twitter is breaking people’s fucking minds. On the other hand, it’s the height of culture to be so singularly obsessed with a topic of such little consequence. The zeitgeist is full on psychotic.

This isn’t about free speech. Fuck that. No one gives that much of a shit about corporate governance that they’d super impose a civilizational problem like free speech onto securities law. This isn’t an episode of Billions. In except that both make me want to scream “that’s not how this works, not how any of it works” into the void.

This is all an elaborate publicity stunt to feed the narcissism driven logic of markets obsessed with celebrity and personality. Because everyone knows what everyone knows, pricing discovery is a function of lurching forward a narrative for the vox popli. Except everyone is convinced they are uniquely brilliant so they can’t possibly also be manipulated by the transparent agitprop. Yeah yeah sure I’m a galaxy brain too. We’re all playing 4D chess. Everyone is winning and the markets only go up.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 465 and One Step Closer

I often start solving my problems by posting them on Twitter. If I need to understand a subject I’ll just ask. If I am trying to get to someone I think I’m only a degree or two removed from I’ll just ask Twitter. There is some powerful magic in asking the group mind to come together for you.

I am an avid participant in this practice of using social media to get one step closer to your goals. When I see people asking questions I try to answer if it’s in my particular expertise. I have an almost reflexive need to check my Rolodex for people. If I think I’ve got a hookup with someone where a little social capital goes a long way I will absolutely ask for favors for other people.

I just think it’s the golden rule. Do unto others. And if you take that seriously (and as a Christian I do) then it’s your obligation to try to pitch in on the global game of making life reflect our values. I do genuinely think this is how luck gets made. If karma exists it’s part of the great game of seeing the human in each other. Empathy is the only true super power. Everything else is grasping to hold a fraction of its catalytic energy. Sometimes a little effort on your part can completely transform someone else’s life.

Categories
Internet Culture Startups

Day 461 and Remora

I saw a headline about how Trump’s social media site is failing. I’ve got no idea if that’s true but the media likes the story. This is playing out in the context of Elon Musk using corporate governance as a public relations stunt with his new Twitter board seat. Everyone wants to be an attention grabbing technology company even former presidents and aerospace billionaires. Because even the stupid stunt stuff in tech can be world changing.

I’m at the big Bitcoin conference in Miami. It’s a lot but it’s not fundamentally any gaudier than any other industry event I’ve attended in twenty years being adjacent to startups. Before my current stint as an investor I worked in fashion and beauty so I’ve seen a lot of excess. M I was raised in a boom time Web1 startup family. But also my family went bankrupt. I’ve seen the dark sides. I still work in tech. Like Trump and Elon I too just want a piece of the action.

It’s because startups change the world. Even stupid weird dopey absolutely cult adjacent shit can and does change the world. All these prestige television takes on frauds and crashes and the cult of personality nonsense miss that sometimes those freaks actually do it. Sometimes they change the world. Ok most of the time they don’t. See the current unraveling of Fast. 99% of the time shit goes bad. But to have even a little bit of the action of the 1%. It’s fucking dazzling. It’s worth being adjacent to all the bullshit.

I hold in high esteem the folks who work at the flameouts. Anyone who takes a chance and has it go bad has my admiration. I’ve been one of them. I’ve failed a lot. I’m lucky I don’t get punished for it. At least not much. I’ll never know how much shit like my gender or my ridiculous social media personality factor into that shit. Because I am always allowed to get right back into the action and make shit. Making shit is our currency.

I think this is why even the most powerful people gravitate towards startups. You actually get to make shit. At the earliest stages you get to be personally responsible for so much. Your actions have meaning. You contribute. You know how rare that feeling of community and camaraderie is in peacetime?

It’s a commodity so precious we let ourselves be led by girl bosses and fast talking celebrity thought leader venture capitalists. We tolerate a lot of assholes and psychopaths so we can be in a community of people that make things. It’s the American dream and the most basic human need all rolled up into one.

That ought to give you a sense of the cultural power and vitality of startups. That’s loyalty on par with religion. That’s move history big dick energy. And I think some people hate it I find the hate inscrutable but I’m sure it’s probably legible to those who feel left outside.

So yes boom time early energy big money hanger on remoras are part of any thriving ecosystem. And as far as I can tell Bitcoin has the manna to go the distance. Because everyone wants a piece of the action.