Categories
Internet Culture Media

Day 431 and 9 Lonely Hours

I was excited for the time difference working in Frankfurt. It’s GMT + 1 which makes it six hours ahead of New York and a whooping nine hours ahead of San Francisco. I had this idea that I would enjoy getting in a full day before any of my American collaborators. Imagine the productivity gains!

But I’ve actually found it lonely. The silence of my social media has felt anything but, well, social. I adjusted immediately to the time difference without any jet lag. I woke up at 7am with the sun on my first day. And then I realized my California compatriots wouldn’t be awake till 4pm my time. Shit.

It’s not as if I have no one to talk to during these hours. I have founders in Europe and collaborators that are in these central time zones. But Twitter and my media news diet is strangely quiet in the early hours. It’s almost eerie. There is something disquieting about waking up before the news roundups hit my inbox. Like the world isn’t awake yet. Except obviously in Europe everything has stashed already.

I had no idea just how much my information environment depended on American filtering. It’s not that I was unaware that I was consuming a heavy diet of American media, but most of my news diet enters my feed through the East Coast media centers and is propagated through the lens of Silicon Valley. The Twitter friends I spent the most time with were clearly mostly American.

This is clearly an opportunity for me to branch out my information diet and my social circle. I’m grateful for the reminder. But I can’t help being a little sad that for a month I’ll be so offset from what I know and love. But it’s also exciting.

Categories
Media

Day 429 and Not Unique

I’ve always assumed that Americans were, well, kind of the worst, when it comes to racism. Maybe it’s because we don’t generally lie about the fact that it’s an issue in our media. It feels like half of our news is about race.

Sure Twitter gets indignant about “the discourse” and regular folks get angry at being called racist for shit like voting for Trump. But like in general it’s not news that Americans have trouble with race. It’s kind of a given stereotype. We get more about being labeled a racist than we get about actually racist behaviors.

But you always assume that your problems are the most acute. I had a misguided unconscious bias that Americans are uniquely plagued by racism. But even within a few days of being in Germany I am reminded Americans aren’t the only ones who practice “casual” racism in every day situations.

I’ve noticed grocery clerks keeping an steady eye on brown shoppers. I’ve seen glances and grimaces when groups of men speaking another language go by. (Albanian in this case). And I’ve overheard conversations complaining about immigration and resources and costs. And then there are the journalists discussing the war in Ukraine and how unimaginable it is that Europe could be at war. Isn’t that something that only happens elsewhere? As if the Baltic and Balkan stated weren’t absolutely European too.

In some ways it’s comforting to see this play out somewhere that isn’t my home. It’s just human behavior. Ugly horrible behavior but not unique to anyone or any place.

Categories
Internet Culture Reading Travel

Day 427 and Rhythms

I’ve got a set of best practices for managing jet lag. If you are going east you get up a bit earlier and if it’s an overnight take something to immediately fall asleep even if it’s earlier. You should fast on your flight. this sucks if it involves first class and good booze but it’s worth it. When you land absolutely no napping. Stay up till normal bedtime even if it takes an extra coffee.

So far this seems to have worked for me. I woke up at 7am in Germany which is precisely my normal waking with the sun schedule. I didn’t have any issues waking up in the middle of the night nor did I have any fatigue in my workday.

Want to know the weirdest dumbest adjustment I can’t quite figure out? When to write my blog posts. It’s 5pm in Germany right now which is generally when I write my posts in Colorado. I prefer an end of the workday time as it lets me integrate the day’s knowledge and insights. But it’s only 9am in Colorado. When I post this as my own “end of day” wrap it will barely be the beginning of the day for my partners on the west coast.

This also has the effect of making me feel a bit out of the zeitgeist. When I woke up none of the overnight emails had gone out. Which meant I just got started on my day. Typically I spend an hour reading the news and drinking my coffee. But if there is no news to read it’s a much faster start to the day. So maybe it’s not that I’m out of the zeitgeist so much as the zeitgeist consumption process has tilted forward by 8 hours just as my day has done. I guess I better go open up Bloomberg and enjoy my morning news for with evening meal.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture Travel

Day 424 and Meltdown

The zeitgeist is getting stupid and panicky. Which means I’m feeling stupid and panicked. We’ve got folks speculating on nuclear war. It’s all very productive (that’s sarcasm) so don’t be surprised if regular people are on edge for no rational reason. I was surprised to find myself on edge as I know I’m being impacted by propaganda. But knowing isn’t enough to stop the emotional response.

I’m traveling to Europe for the next month and while I’ve got some concern about escalations in the Russian war in Ukraine, there is nothing I can do about it. If things get hot and a real nuclear meltdown happens, I doubt I’ll be any safer in Denver than Berlin. But rationally knowing something and emotionally being integrated on it are two different things. I’m on edge even though there is no point to it. And I am determined to continue living my life no matter the external chaos. I’ve had enough of putting life on old. But that choice has emotional consequences.

I realized how on edge I was when a daily drug I take for longevity and metabolic health, Metformin, was out of refills. I leave tomorrow for a month so I needed to check in with a doctor today to get it fixed. I found myself on the call explaining a bunch of unnecessary extraneous detail to the poor assistant about how I needed a refill immediately but I couldn’t get blood work tomorrow to prepare for a telehealth visit next week as I’m traveling so could I schedule bloods and the visit for April and still get a month refill?

Somehow this simple errand just completely set me off and I felt myself welling up with tears and anxiety. How had I missed this small detail and why couldn’t I communicate it normally? Why did I sound like some flighty woman who can’t communicate effectively? I felt shame and embarrassment overtake me.

I ended up asking my husband for help as I just sounded so loopy and stupid. The assistant didn’t need my entire travel itinerary and the logic for when and why I couldn’t get bloods done. I just needed the refill and to schedule my next visit.

I think we underestimate just how much chaos impacts our daily lives and routines. You can be a zen Big Lebowski type but you are still surrounded by friends who are ready to lose their shit over nihilism or Nazis or bowling Jesus. The world is increasingly complex and our little reactionary parasympathetic system is leaning on evolutionary hacks that are outdated for our current moment. Tigers in the grass are not the same as willingly doomscrolling social media to absorb someone else’s propaganda. Sure they both use pattern matching but it’s kind of an order of magnitude issue.

So be kind to each other as we’ve all been living through two years of chaotic pandemic angst. And now we are asking folks to dig back up Cold War fears. If someone has a little meltdown over a basic choice cut then some slack. And give them a hug. And yes I’m talking about treating yourself better. This shit is wild and scary and stupid for all of us.

Categories
Internet Culture Preparedness

Day 423 and Hot Takes

I am a prolific shit poster. I am a haver of takes. I am a full fledged member of the discourse. But Jesus Christ I never thought I’d see the day where the galaxy brains are feeling good about having nuclear war takes. Literally the hottest of takes.

I am in a preparedness Discord with a number of very level headed people. There are people that I would trust to help me think through surviving a disaster. But none of us are foreign policy experts or plugged into the state department. Nevertheless we are speculating on the possibility that Ukraine’s invasion by Russia could take us there. But we are just speculating!

Now I’m not a Bluecheck media personality on Twitter but I do know what it’s like to have an influential opinion. I’ve got a small platform and I try to use my voice responsibly. Or at least make clear when I’m shitposting. Because people will take you seriously. So you have to occasionally do a double take on your takes.

It doesn’t feel like most people are being particularly careful today. There are a few voices that have got things right in the past that are working though thought experiments. That’s valuable. But the bulk of folks are engaging in some terrible information hygiene. Opinions are being had. But also propaganda is being circulated and disinformation warfare is being waged. So far the West is being clearly won by the scrappy Ukrainian narrative. But who knows what will stick. So he careful out there. We are literally at war. Don’t rush to conclusions or to share shit that looks too good to be true. You don’t want to end up pushing an agenda that isn’t your own.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 421 and Disassociated

My scheduled was packed today. I took several pitches. I spoke with an internet friend about some mutual interests. I did some travel arrangements for a real estate transaction I’m hoping will go my way.

I really felt the need to be busy today. For once I didn’t want to be too immersed in the zeitgeist. I somewhat dreaded checking Twitter. I actually listened to a whole podcast and went for an hour long walk in the freezing winter cold. I spent some time organizing my calendar for next week.

I’m rarely this task oriented. I generally need spaces that are open where I can lay down and soak up the current moment. I’m usually calmed by the drumbeat of information. I thrive on input.

But I couldn’t bring myself to be online. The Russian invasion of the Ukraine is too unsettling. The implications it has for a changing world order. The instability it represents. The second and third order impacts my mind can only grasp out but not fully see.

So I’m going to order some takeout. Maybe something fried. And I’ll watch Netflix. And I’m pretend that I’m comfortable in this consumption mediated disassociation. And I’m going to assume that it’s normal. Because my life is absolutely fine but I’m bearing witness to a tragedy being played live online.

Categories
Internet Culture Startups

Day 413 and Don’t Believe the Hypebeast

My early twenties were heavily influenced by streetwear and sneakerhead culture. I lived in the Lower East side and hung out with all the kids who would go on to dominate what is now a multi-billion dollar industry.

It feels weird listing out my bonafides as it’s pretty name drop-y but at the time it was like yeah my friends at Alife or High Snobiety or even god forbid Supreme meant basically nothing. I was in the absolute epicenter of hypebeast mania.

So I’ve got a gut sense of what a genuine upswell of obsession looks like. The kind of irrational social capital driven cool mania of the sneakerhead world has a specific vibe to it. Almost illegible to anyone outside. But to the in group? It’s powerful chaos magic binding geas shit.

That’s what EthDenver felt like today. A kind of disorganized overflow of true believers converging into a space about a quarter of the size required. It’s like if TechCrunch disrupt accidentally got overrun by the entire readership of HypeBeast. Honestly it kinda sucks.

You’ve got a number of accomplished teams and founders and investors all trying to figure out how to navigate long lines and complete chaos with no clear programming goal or event schedule. And then you’ve got thousands and thousands of NFT weirdos just shilling and excited and ebullient about stuff they freely admit they don’t technically understand. It’s going to be a wild ride for crypto.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 393 and Red Pilled

Maybe three years ago William Gibson was promoting his new book. It was the last event I attended in a pre-pandemic world so it stands out to me. He gave an interview where he mentioned reading a novel by Hari Kunzru called “Red Pilled” and that he found the plot as a plausible near future.

I immediately bought a copy as I’m heavily influenced by the prescient near future work of @GreatDismal. The book was about a member of the blue check media class slowly going stark raving mad because of an elaborate right wing alt-reich troll farming operation. It was uncomfortably clear on the kind of elaborate cultural war tactics that goes into pilling normies. Dank memes and slowly you are accepting the aesthetics and touchstones of former Reich minutiae or Nordic runes or pick your mythical volk white mythology. Memes are dangerous gateway ideology kids.

I didn’t really think anything of it at the time. Then I lived through the pandemic becoming an elaborate death cult ritual with totemic significance for both warring sides. I realized we are in the middle of a massive meme war for the soul of internet culture and most of us don’t know we are victims yet.

Walk down one wrong hobby hole on Reddit and suddenly you have become friends with folks with more than passing fascinations with authoritarian culture. Honestly it’s freaky as shit and I’m absolutely socially friendly with people who don’t think I’m a fully autonomous sovereign individual. And yes I mean both socialist Soviet apologist Tankies and TradCath beach fascists.

The latest example of mass hyper object cultural murmurations might be the Bored Ape Yacht Club. And not in the way you think! It was brought to my attention by Venkatesh Rao and he clicked together some signs I’d registered but not processed. It’s entirely possible someone pulled a QAnon semiotic culture jacking with everyone’s favorite NFT project and made it so we all consumed a bunch of Nazis culture.

Which sounds like a deranged conspiracy theory by woke activists but might actually be true. Someone did quite a bit of homework on the BAYC aesthetic history and it’s connection to racist reactionary political traditions, but it’s inherently unreliable as the story is being told by another elaborate culture artist. Who the fuck knows? Are there even sides to this kind of culture war? Can I be a conscientious objector?

If even a fraction of the wild associative leaps are premeditated it would be a kind of aesthetic scandal on par with the country electing a reality show host. A couple nRX message-board fascists cosplaying as Zombie Nazis grift 4 billion dollars in market place from venture capitalists and gullible celebrities. What a collective failure to repudiate literal Nazis! Lol. Maybe this means our unconscious might think some of this is right? Oh god maybe we did read a human biodiversity essay that made a convincing point. We seem to be a lot closer to black pilled. Fuck. Is this psychological warfare?

Honestly I hate this fantasy so much I hope it ends up being the largest milkshake ducking in history. Except at the end a whole bunch of us end up simping for the technical value of a bunch of Hitler memes. Fuck I’d die if this is how we all got pilled on antique fascist aesthetics. I’d love it even more if Peter Thiel were involved so the left wing conspiracy types could build their own QAnon metaverse. Already we’ve been warned about meme magic and the spiritual traditionalism that is animating a global new right. And I’ve got to be honest some of the threads going around have some elaborate research and narrative work. It’s propaganda level and designed to be compelling and confusing.

BAYC is of the most intricate hidden trolling campaigns in history created by very intelligent 4chan-related trolls who have hidden lots of nazi and alt-right innuendoes across the collection I’ve gathered enough proof to confirm it.

I honestly have no idea who is playing who in this saga. I’m think @vgr is probably right that even the terminally online struggle to make sensible or legible this level of signaling. So we brush it off. But it’s going to be an inception vector. So be careful when you react to an event. You might be primed to respond to their propaganda and not even know it.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 391 and Breath

Daily overstimulation is starting to rub the pressure sores of America’s downer induced depression into a full blown mental health crisis. Like, even more than usual. War with Russia in the imagination, inflation and market volatility coaxing a recession, culture war skirmishes over every basic fact in the pandemic, along with generalized anxiety are fucking us up focus wise. And every propaganda outlet and publicist on the planet is having a field day.

I’m listing to The Prodigy’s Breath and mumbling lyrics like pyschosomatic insane. So I guess, come play my game?

I try not to listen too much music as it overstimulates my nervous system to be honest so its kind of rare for me to have Spotify playing. I’ve got a finely tuned propaganda radar that benefits from sensing subtle shifts in tone and extremely online discourse. I can’t do that if I’m too worked up from the rough stimulus that comes from pop music. I mostly use it to run my portfolio and investing but sometimes I think I should really be used in the service of some autocrat or multi-national. I’m the doubt factory

I guess it is nice I can make a buck during the end of the empire. I’m one of those post structuralism, post-capitalism babies. A regular Bane “born to the darkness” of hyper objects like markets and climate change. So I guess I’d better be molded to being the kind of villain that survives a world of agitprop and meme warfare. Thanks Adbusters!

Frankly I’m having a fucking blast. Sure I’m scared I don’t have my homestead property all shored up for civilization hiccups, but I’m of the mind that the crumbles is going to take a while so might as well enjoy the gains that come from a massive upheaval. I guess its true venture capitalists are ghouls. I mean at least we aren’t private equity carrion birds but it is wild that the system rewards a class of people that invest in creative destruction.

But even as I want to paint myself as bad, I do stereotypically think what venture capital does is often good. We can’t predict second order effects. Chaos theory doesn’t let us see all the future paths. But stochastic as shit power laws are just math so we’ve got a shot at accidentally making things better. So while the agitprop tries to sway your opinions might I recommend you just Breath? That is my professional advice.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 377 and Fucked

I was having a conversation with a colleague today. I didn’t know them well so I was amused and surprised when our conversation took a left turn into “everything is fucked!”

It’s not that I disagree. If anything I strongly agree shit is fucked. But I’m not used to a normie getting apocalyptic on me. I didn’t know them well enough that they would have had much insight into my politics or views on systemic collapse. Rather it was two work related people discussing just how uncomfortable daily living is right now. We laughed about how the massive wildfires that burned two Colorado suburbs was already last week’s crisis. And it’s not funny since it was my town’s crisis.

There is an unsettling realization among regular people that life isn’t getting back to normal ever again. That some rubicon has been crossed and even the most normal among us senses that something is wrong.

Have we all become doomers this last year? Has every little crisis finally piled up high enough that it breaches the preoccupation with daily needs and obligations. I don’t like that it’s now common knowledge that shit is fucked. I’m unsettled we agree that life is on a hard left turn. I miss optimism being common knowledge.