Categories
Internet Culture

Day 759 and All Dressed

Social media has given us so many ways to become fans. We have ever more content thanks the streaming wars. Give content a chance to live everywhere online and it will develop a fanbase beyond its intended audience. The internet gives small shows outsized impact.

I’m a fan of a Canadian comedy called a Letterkenny. It’s about a small town in Canada. It’s got people and their problems. It’s a very funny character study and has fundamentally warm and loving humor. I’ve watched every episode and the spin-off. I’ve taken a lot of solace in the very human nature of the show, particularly during the pandemic years when everyone felt far away from each other.

There is a phenomenon that is particularly prominent online called parasocial relationships. Someone creates art or a personality and it develops a fandom. Over time, the fans, through repeated exposure to a character or show, believe they know them like a friend. It is fun to be in the fandom. Enjoying art is a universal experience. I am a stan for Letterkenny. I’m in a parasocial relationship with the Letterkenny crew and it’s universe.

How deep is it? Well my husband and I recently ordered some Canadian chip flavor called all dressed featured on an episode of Letterkenny. The chip is, as the name suggests, every single type of flavor. It is salt and vinegar, bbq, ketchup (weird but crucial), and sour cream & onion. And it is absolutely delicious. As a Twitter friend said to me, it is the Dr Pepper of chips. It’s not for everyone but it’s spectacular.

All dressed ruffle potato chips

Because it is Sunday, I am taking a medically necessary amount of THC. I’ve had a gummy. And I thought this was a perfect moment to try the Letterkenny chip.

And it was indeed glorious. All dresseds is a chip made for the munchies. It’s got bite and taste and texture and it all rolls up into an experience. It’s a chip worthy of the extra attention of weed focus.

And because I am extremely online I shared my appreciation for it on Twitter.

Now on Letterkenny there is a clique called the Skids. They are the weird kids. They are the hipster ones. They are the nerds. They are small town weed dealers. Asking me to pick a favorite on Letterkenny is like asking me to pick a favorite child. One of the Skids is Roald. He is a loyal friend but his own man. He definitely likes weed. I love Roaldie.

And I’m delighted to learn through my all dressed munchies Tweet, that the actor who plays him, Evan Stern, is following me. He likes the tweet. What a perfect way to enjoy a very specific kind of fandom. A parasocial relationship’s individual manifestation through social media. Now that I’ve made a big deal out of all this I should probably say hi to Evan. It’s going to be weird no matter what but it brought me a lot of joy. It’s good to be a fan.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 758 and Two Sides

I somehow missed watching the Mandalorian when it came out. My husband isn’t really into Star Wars and I’m a Star Trek person so as just missed it. I started watching it today for the first time and I’m experiencing it somewhat fresh of its original release context.

But I’ve got a vague memory of the culture war issues that it triggered at the time. Somehow Gina Carano got coded to team red and champion of the downtrodden right wing. I honestly couldn’t tell you why except I think she mouthed off on Twitter. She sacrificed her career as a main character on prestige Disney tv show for shitposting. She thought she had social latitude that she just didn’t when working for Big Mouse. Shockingly naive if I’m honest.

That somehow everything has a side in the culture wars is a real tragedy of our time. Because a couple years pass and whatever dumb stunt that got you put on team red or team blue probably gets forgotten. Normal people have moved on and the discourse gets digested eventually into common knowledge. Memory is a fickle thing. Madeleines and Proust or something in that direction.

If you are team red you go into an alternate universe where apparently being a dick with a right wing slant on YouTube gets you 50 million dollar media deals. I assume there are as many opportunities as now being on team red is a real badge of honor and whole media ecosystems arise because it’s an actual demographic. Shocking somehow to some people but I guess I’ve always lived adjacent to team red. I’ve be always known you could make money on that audience.

I suppose the real tell is that if you are team blue you don’t really change ecosystems at all if you pick their side in the culture war. You get to maintain your plum gig at Disney. You do not have Ron DeSantis gunning for you. I hear that woke mobs come to get you but I’ve never actually seen it in action. The worst part of my chaotic evil leftist Twitter bubble stops at Taylor Lorenz though I am aware that a murky left exists beyond Chapo Trap House and I know about Tankies.

It just seems so strange to take sides in any of this nonsense if your aim is to make a living as a performer. Sure maybe you can cater to one niche or another. But really isn’t the whole point finding the things that bind us all in the human experience? I always assumed art was meant to transcend whatever petty shit happened while making it.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 755 and Instagram

I haven’t been on my Instagram account since 2018. I stopped actively posting in 2017. I’d become absolutely sick of the social media platform and the relentless aspirational influencer content marketing that had taken over my feed. I can’t say I’ve missed it, but I’ve decided to reinstall the application and begin posting again.

I’ve been a participant in the “creator economy” long before it had a name. A college friend set me up on a WordPress blog after a fellow student had written a piece criticizing me for being interested in fashion on campus.

I’d written something about designer denim in the competing school newspaper. My friend told me I needed to watch out as this new nemesis was going to ruin my Google results. From these petty seeds a fashion blogging “empire” was born.

I have some dubious distinctions from being early to social media. Women’s Wear Daily claimed I was the first person to liveblog fashion week in 2006. I turned that into an advertising network for online lifestyle publishers called Coutorture. It was eventually acquired by PopSugar. I went on to work at a number of luxury and fashion brands before starting my own cosmetics line.

I’d like to think having been there from the start of the creator economy counts for something but the harsh truth is that once you stop posting you tend to disappear from any social network. I stopped fashion blogging for my own enjoyment once I made it into a career.

During my girlboss years as the CEO of Stowaway Cosmetics being on Instagram felt like a part of my job. I had enjoyed it more when I wasn’t obligated to look cool. I remember 2012 Instagram fondly as a place where you followed photographers and fashion insiders at work. By 2016 it was loaded with aspirational lifestyle content. I felt like I all I saw was sponsored content.

Somewhere in that timeframe I racked up 30,000 followers. I don’t think I ever maintained anything remotely professional. It was just pictures of whatever was happening in my life so the usual mix of food and travel. It didn’t seem like a huge loss to walk away.

Oddly even if my follower count on Twitter isn’t actually that much larger than my Instagram account I feel like I’m much more influential there. I’m better with words clearly. I am a shitposter so it always felt lower stakes. And maybe that’s why it’s less of a burden in my mind. I do Twitter joyfully.

But I’m going to experiment with Instagram again. I’ve got visual things in my life that are worth sharing as I’ve now got a totally new aspirational lifestyle. I’ve graduated from fashion influencer to doomer optimist. Homesteading and cozy farmhouse is it’s own aesthetic and maybe I’ll enjoy sharing mine. And I’ll admit that I’m not at all above coveting back on gifting lists. I guess if you enjoy that sort of thing find me back on Instagram. Or if you want to send me some free stuff I’m open to getting back into the SponCon game.

Categories
Aesthetics Media

Day 748 and Molly Millions

I’ve been rewatching the excellent Amazon adaption of William Gibson’s The Peripheral. I’ve said if before but no single artist has had a bigger impact on my aesthetics than him. As the father of cyberpunk, his impact looms large over the computing industry.

Molly Millions is a cyborg in William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy which includes the famous Neuromancer. A dark brunette, she has mirror shade eyes and razors under her nails. Molly is first introduced in the shorty story Johnny Mnemonic which became a Hollywood thriller with the same title. In the movie, Molly is renamed as Jane but is fundamentally the same character.

The cover of William Gibson’s Neuromancer with Molly Millions.

In Johnny Mnemonic we have an entirely new aesthetic for Molly Millions as Jane. The brooding inaccessible brunette is replaced with a curly haired blonde played by Dina Mayer.

Dina Mayer as Jane in cyberpunk style.
On the far left, a strong jawed and sharp featured Jane in a cyberpunk bar
Dina Mayer as Jane

I personally loved Dina Mayer’s energy in Johnny Mnemonic. She brought a kind of girl next door folksiness that brought a lot of humanity to the problems of being a cyborg. She was light where technology dictate a darker aesthetic. Cyberpunk needed a Betty. I assume some of this is related to the creative direction of photographer (of Men in Suits fame) Robert Longo but it could have easily been Dina Mayer’s rising star in Hollywood. I hadn’t thought much beyond it until I watched the Peripheral.

But now all I can see in the Peripheral is how much Flynn Fisher (as played by Chloe Grace Moretz) looks like Dina Mayer’s Jane. In my fantasy, it’s like I’m seeing the first woman Willian Gibson ever loved. It almost makes a romantic of me imagining a world where a curly haired blonde mattered to him. But the essence shared by Moretz and Mayer is hard to deny.

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

I see a lot of little similarities between the two actresses but it’s ultimately the affect. The bold lip and the harsh pulled back hair is contrasted in softer moments with wild curly halos and warm inviting features. Flynn is a southern girl. I’ve got no idea if Jane had a heritage. But now I’ll always wonder why the dark mirror shaded women of Neuromancer became a blonde.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 726 and Healing

As most of my extended network is aware, I am a big fan of therapy. We all grow up in imperfect families doing their best in a cruel world. No one is immune from emotional hurt, especially if you came by those wounds in childhood. Healing those old wounds as an adult is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and is not reflective of any weakness on your part or failure of your family.

Hurt people hurt. Every single one of us has lingering traumas from our childhood no matter how privileged our lives or lucky our circumstances. Trauma is universal. No one escapes being alive without some.

One of the most relatable types of hurt a child will experience is being made to feel less than, an outsider, unworthy or unloved. Our families might not intend for us to feel this way but it’s not uncommon to be bullied or ignored or told we are unworthy. If we do not find ways to heal from feeling like we are less than others, we will make others feel the same way. And we are obligated as responsible adults to not victimize others.

Nerds who don’t heal their trauma wound of being “unpopular” become quite dangerous when they go from underdog to ruling class

When I was young being called a nerd was an insult. But now as an adult the power dynamics have shifted significantly. The intellectuals have inherited the earth. But too many of us remember ourselves as victims of the strong. As adults we have an obligation to adjust our priors as we are no longer victims of what we experienced in childhood. In fact, we now we have the upper hand. Revenge of the nerds is due for an update.

We must remind our inner child that those days are over. We survived. It’s over. We are now strong adults with our own agency and capacity to set boundaries. Of course, it’s a hard task to reason with our inner child. The ego is very accomplished at guarding us from reality. It doesn’t want us to repeat those traumas and rightly so. It only takes being burned once to avoid the fire.

But if we don’t work to understand why we we still react as adults as if we were a hurt child the wounds of childhood trauma we will never allow us to reality.

If you want to see the truth of your circumstances consider going to therapy. If you cannot afford it, there are many recovery programs that are free to attend like Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon. Contrary to popular perception they are not just for addicts. Heal yourself. We are all rooting for you.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 722 and Extreme

When Stephen Colbert was still the titular character on his Comedy Central Show he had the perfect delivery for the word extreme. Imagine a wholesome Mountain Dew meets X Games meets Gen X meets Vin Diesel’s Triple X meme and you’ve got the basic delivery. Extreme!

White conservative beltway dudes pretending to like extreme sports is, of course, a joke from a simpler time. These days extreme sports are now just regular Olympic sports and Tony Hawk is old dude on Twitter. Gen X is turning 50 and the New York Times styles section has a feature on the gold rush for menopause.

Colbert’s kindly delivery of extreme being something fun, sugary and maybe a bit sporty, has given way to actual extremes. Tucker Carlson doesn’t pretend to be a cool for clout. Now we just go straight for extremist politics. All those years Colbert spent imitating Fox News anchors normalized their schtick to such an extent that Bill O’Reilly couldn’t keep up. Now I gather the Colbert spends his time atoning for this normalization by cracking bad Trump jokes. Or so I hear. I’ve not ever watched his new sincere late night show.

The other extreme we’ve got is weather. Which is what I’d actually intended to write about, before I spent multiple paragraphs explaining a joke. You see, America is in the middle of some very extreme weather. And every time I’ve checked the temperature in the last 48 hours I’ve recited Colbert’s extreme delivery in my head. It was terrifyingly cold in Montana yesterday. Bozeman got down to -45 Fahrenheit.

Extreme doesn’t seem like a fun word anymore. I’ve stopped associating it with snowboarding and yellow caffeinated drinks. Extreme is groypers meeting former Presidents and climate change upsetting the jet stream. We’ve collapsed arctic air into the lower forty right just as we’ve collapsed distinctions between parody and reality.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 711 and Excession

So Elon, this isn’t likely to actually make it to you, but this is my blog, I write every day for myself, so why not, I can give it a try and pretend. If it turns out this is any good I’ll ask a mutual friend to send it to you.

tldr: I feel a (parasocial) connection with you & I want more from you (and maybe also for you). I know it feels cool and edgy to wink at taboos but you’re getting rekt by fuck bois, sycophants and opportunists.

I know we are all Galileo in our own mind shouting “and yet it moves” to narrow minded Papists but you realize being a martyr requires your death right? I don’t want you to die.

You certainly don’t remember this, but we met a number of times in the mid-teens. Times like when a friend of mine hosted a blow out birthday party in New York. We sat next to each other in some awful club and discussed chess with a small group. The same friend had a big wedding. I remember goofy dancing. Your sons made snow angels in the confetti. It was nice.

You seemed as uncomfortable as the rest of us nerds. Your autism didn’t seem any worse than mine though. I remember finding that comforting at the time. It has curdled into alienation over time as your fame far outstripped your origins. And I’m sad to have lost the feeling of love I had for you.

Before we “met” I had slight case of hero worship. I remember thinking here is someone just like me. He likes the same science fiction. He dreams about the singularity. He’s neurodivergent. And he wants to get us off this damn rock. And he’s got more money and power than I do so maybe he is worth admiring. I was young and stupid and hadn’t yet gone to real therapy.

I would tell my friends I wanted to die outside the earth’s gravity well. I thought perhaps you might be the man that got us there. Had I not had a chance to see how much you were just like me, perhaps I’d still be a stan.

Never meet your heroes. Everyone is just people. Now I’m worried I’ll die here on Earth filled with grief like Captain Kirk. There are no dicks left to ride once you realize we are all just humans.

What I see now from you isn’t power and happiness, it’s isolation and sadness. But I want you to know it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to listen to the flattering dick riders. They want shit from you. They want their agendas and they see your money and power as a way to achieve it. I know you know this.

It makes me angry to see you coddle the parasites. I’m shocked your mother hasn’t told you to knock it off. She seems like a cold bitch who gets shit done. I’m sure she’s told you that you are better than them. The nerds and autists did not inherit this Earth just to squander it for the roar of the crowd. If it is all bread and circus, remember you are a king and not a clown.

Maybe you think their slavish slobbering attention is a fair trade for some of your magic, I used to be emotionally slutty like that too.

Being an attention whore isn’t unusual for someone with distant parents. Shitposters gotta post right? Once again, I feel a kinship to you on the compulsion to post and roast. I’m addicted to Twitter too. We are all filling up the holes leftover from our childhood. I’ve got daddy issues so I’m sure you get it.

And yes, I am projecting my own insecurities. But maybe I can tell you a story that will comfort you in the big wide universe. Maybe it will comfort someone else. Maybe it’s just to comfort myself.

I read you named your family office Excession. I’m also a fan of Ian M. Banks. Since 2008 or so, I carry around a paperback of Excession with me whenever I vacation. Which isn’t a lot. I normally use a Kindle to read but this paperback has become a kind of totem. It signals to my hindbrain that I am in a sympathetic state of rest and digest. I reread it over and over in 20-30 page chunks. It bounces me out of fight or flight now after much repetition, it’s my comfort book.

A picture from September 2014 in Miami. We seem to have come full circle on Ukraine
Here is a picture of you with the same copy in 2015 while in Sun Valley.

Your love for Ian M. Banks all felt very relatable to me as I’ve been dreaming of a post-scarcity world where my AI space ship friends shuttle me around as they pursue their inscrutable intentions. I want to sublime. Maybe not for a few thousand more years though. But I want to make it through the singularity to the other side, or at very least avoid dying in William Gibson’s jackpot. I feel like you get what apocalypses preoccupied my mind.

Most of my fantasies and fears have been touched by my love for science fiction. I saw in you someone who saw the same possibilities as me. You were very much one of us.

I also see someone being used for their dreams. They are harnessing you and your power to drive the rest of us to focus on their nightmares. Don’t let them steer you.

But your posting is reaching people. It’s annoying to some, but it hits. Maybe it hits too hard. But the isolation I imagine you feel isn’t necessary. Power laws can separate just as effectively as they bring us together. You don’t have to be surrounded by reply guys. There is a path to connection even for the most singular among us.

Now of course, I want something from you too. I want you to get us off this rock before it’s too late. I know it’s a big ask.

My best is advice is to go reread Excession and get yourself out of this persistent “fight or flight” cortisol pump. Get focused back on the shit that matters. Maybe find yourself a nice autistic sociopath who will love you for you. Maybe she can protect you from some of the pain. I’m sure you will figure it out.

I want you go to therapy. Mine is pretty good if you’d like an introduction. She’s an aristocratic 80 something Swedish woman, so you might like her. She’s perfect for working through attachment issues. She’s quite good at dealing with poor little rich kids with mommy and daddy issues. Her neighbors are all billionaires so she won’t be impressed by your bullshit. She has a sub-specialty in sex so she can probably help with that dick riding problem too.

And most importantly, she’ll be the only person who doesn’t want anything from you. And you need that more than anything.

Categories
Startups

Day 710 and Holiday Work

Working on a Wednesday is expected. Working on a Sunday is a transgression. And like all modern transgressions, working when you aren’t supposed to be working is now a desirable thing. When work becomes a rebellion, strange things happen to your life. I think magic happens.

I’ve excited for the dead time that the end of the year brings for work. Because it’s secretly one of the best times to get shit done. I am never more productive than when I’m expected to be at rest.

In America, there is an expectation that we take some of the time off between Christmas and New Year. But the time off grows and suddenly no one is expected to get anything done for two whole weeks. And then it’s just a mess of resentment where we are at work but not getting much out the door. It’s such a waste. But as soon as people are actually off the clock. That’s when the entire energy of the situation changed.

When everyone is out of the office, is the best times of the year to sprint ahead. Maybe it’s that when people are off work officially they are more receptive to new ideas. They are less on the clock and can take more chances. It seems fun to check your email after too many hours with family where no one shares your interests.

But trust me people are looking for an excuse to do deals when it’s taboo to be working. It’s as tantalizing as getting a message from someone you want to bone. Look at you doing this thing that is a little bit naughty. What a secret you have getting work done when social convention demands we be with family.

So if you get an email from me during the holiday season know it’s because I’m having a blast. You might enjoy responding. Who knows what kind of cool deals we get done when no one else is hustling.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 709 and Stan Armies

I think I might be living and participating in corporate and cultural warfare. Which is the most cyperpunk dystopian thing I can imagine. Which automatically makes it a little bit cool. But I really do think we are being drafted as a stan army of useful idiots in the culture war that has hijacked the meme space in Elon Musk’s brain.

Our most brilliant entrepreneur and erstwhile scientist reaching for the stars is now fighting a battle against attention whores. And I guess that’s how we fund things in late stage capitalism. It is honestly very cool even if it is very scary.

I know we have all read Ian M Banks. We love the Culture. Bring on AGI! Fun fact, Elon Musk’s family trust is called Excession. That’s the book I read on vacation every year. Clearly I have a lot of the same interests as the guy. So I get it. We want Elon to win.

But our boy is fighting some fights he might not even be aware he is in. He being used. He’s been recruited for a host of interest groups to launder some of the weirder corners of Reddit.

One narrative that outlines this agitprop civilian targeted skirmish is that Musk is freeing us from the tyranny of wokes. He represents the the real Americans populists who like goodness, dynamism and slightly dehumanizing working conditions.

And also somehow it involves grooming and pedophilia. Meaning that QAnon has come for Silicon Valley. So I’d be going to ground if I were a target, as you don’t want to be found by the crazies at the end of the internet. What Elon Musk just did to Yoel is at best naive and lacking impulse control, but at worst, puts a former employee at direct and extreme personal risk.

Silicon Valley used to be its own culture war. We fought for free information and open source software. We wanted cryptocurrencies and privacy. And now we have instead differing factions fighting for their own inscrutable means. Except maybe getting us to the singularity. I think he’s been clear on that. But beware fringe political movements flattering your ego. They just want your power.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 704 and Nothing Is Real

One of my favorite science fiction series is Ian M Bank’s Culture series. Attempting to give a basic premise is a bit of a disservice to the sweeping space opera, but the TLDR is advanced artificial intelligence has spread humanity’s descendants to the stars in a massive pan-galactic utopian civilizational diaspora.

This future transhuman utopia has finally reconciled humanity’s inherent lack of cognitive processing power and set about flourishing in other ways, while our various AI friends, the Minds, make sure we are kept fed, watered and sheltered in sundry starships, megastructures and planets.

The Culture regularly engages in wars and espionage as it absorbs new species and civilizations, sees others off to the enlightenment (called the Sublimed) and generally gets up to batshittery because sometimes AI is inscrutable. It very fun and if you’ve not read them there is no real order just grab a book and start. If you need a starting place go with Use of Weapons.

The Culture has been on my mind has we are enjoying something of a Cambrian explosion of artificial intelligence generative art tools including the open source Stable Diffusion, OpenAI’s DALL E, and Mid Journey. People have been having a blast creating all kinds of wild imagery. Our tools are rapidly outpacing us in their ability to generate reality.

But I’ll fully admit I didn’t think it was personally that fun to fuck around with until we got a text generator from OpenAI called GPTChat. Surprise surprise I’m more interested in the written word than I am in generative art. I made all kinds of dumb prompts.

And I’m definitely having a bit of a Neo in the Matrix whoa moment with the possibilities. Imagine how much gets automated when our basic communication mechanics are freed from squishy meat space. It’s a long way to a Culture Mind but I definitely had a moment where I thought oh fuck some of us baseline humans are going to struggle to adapt to a manufactured world that isn’t created primarily by other humans. What a fucking trip!

And now I cannot get the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields out of my head. The creative realities emerging from our human minds might not be the dominant ones within my lifetime. I won’t have a clue what is real or what is a fantasy created entirely by machine. And doesn’t that just demand a reassessment of how real is our reality in the first place.

Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever

Strawberry Fields

Now the the Beatles were in an LSD phase but most of us are familiar with the glimpses of different realities that underline the shared sentiment that what if in fact nothing is real. But is it such a big deal? Our egos don’t need to get hung up about another tool to remake reality.

But we should be prepared to find out that our world and all our creations might be sharing space with some very strange new ways to mould reality. I cannot wait for the mind fuck personally. I hope I get adopted by a Culture ship with a name like Extentuating Circumstances or Nervous Disposition