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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.

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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
Aesthetics Travel

Day 750 and Interstitial

If you have ever stayed in an airport hotel or a particularly standardized corporate hotel, you’ve encountered the grand global homogeneity of acceptable hospitality.

Airwave bedroom at a Marriot in Prague

This aesthetic owes a debt to Silicon Valley and the way we’ve sanded off peculiar edges and smoothed over individual characters to make the real world’s brand book as consistent as our virtual ones. It’s called Airwave.

If you enjoyed the silky sameness of a WeWork or a perfect Airbnb or the reclaimed wood counter at a third wave coffee shop in Prague or Frankfurt, you’ve enjoyed Airwave.

If you travel enough, you find the aesthetics comforting eventually. As if your entire palette or taste profile was subtly sifted into the window of preferences set by an art director at an advertising agency in Brooklyn or Amsterdam.

Soothing sameness

Sure you seek out newness and novelty, but also you are glad for the suite at the just nice enough Marriot which delivers you a club sandwich with a request to room service. Remember when Jonny Mnemonic screamed for room service? If you are of a certain age I bet you do.

Ah the height of luxury for a data currier criminal of cyberpunk legend is now the expected outcome for the rootless cosmopolitans. Who is to stay which of us as a worse dystopia?

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Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 727 and Low Recovery Scores

I am chuckling at how excited my former self was for a productive holiday season. I was just overcome by enthusiasm for getting ahead over the break. I was so sure the relaxation would lead to creativity and connection. Pride comes before a fall I guess. But according to my Whoop & Apple Watch, my heart rate variability has been significantly worse than usual.

Maybe it was the extreme weather. Montana had a temperature swing of 95 degrees over the last week. Perhaps I’ve simply been overdoing it with cortisol and overstimulation, as I’ve had an exciting couple of days online.

I’ve wrote up a product road maps for Twitter’s messaging service and gone viral for therapy poasting. Those two activities are tied together. You can guess who the audience was for each of those and enjoy a chuckle.

I’ve got at least one post I’d like to get done before I wrap up year two of writing every single day. I think it’s important to do a year end “best of” overview. But that will require focus and time to get right. But I won’t be doing it today. Today I will listen to my body and let it recover. 2022 was by all measures a hell of a year. I look back on it and see a huge level up in my personal life across multiple dimensions. So if my body wants a little extra recovery time it earned it.

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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.

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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.

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Background

Day 721 and 40 Questions

I came across a list of 40 questions that Stephen Ango answers every year on Twitter today. It looked like a fun exercise so I thought I’d participate.

What did you do this year that you’d never done before? Bought a house & got my very first mortgage, moved to Montana, lived in Germany for a month, spent time on the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, and experienced -45 degree temperatures.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions? I don’t make them but I did intend to write every single day (for the second year in a row) and I have so far accomplished it.

Did anyone close to you give birth? No

Did anyone close to you die? No

What cities/states/countries did you visit? Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, Florida and Texas for states. United Kingdom, Germany, Albania and Greece for countries.

What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year? All the money for my venture fund and visas for freedom of movement for my friends and family.

What date(s) from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why? June 18th was the date we closed on our homestead in Montana. August 1st was the day we moved in.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting my family safely to a Montana homestead that is the first home we’ve ever owned.

What was your biggest failure? I don’t think it’s a failure, but I wish I got more done particularly when it comes to fundraising and deploying capital, but objectively I did as much as I could. I try to remind myself that the self is not an attack vector so this question is an opportunity to remind myself that failure is just opportunity.

What other hardships did you face? I got a very bad flu in the middle of purchasing the house in Montana. I watched the markets repeat elements of the crashes of 2001 and 2008 which allowed me to see how far I’ve come since my childhood trauma of my family’s bankruptcy on 2001.

Did you suffer illness or injury? The flu in May was awful, I’ve had a number of random infections and I live with chronic ankylosis spondylitis but I’m the healthiest I’ve been in years.

What was the best thing you bought? A house in Montana. But smaller things I’ve loved include a Lunya robe, Ariat boots, Skimms cotton tank bras, and my first go at Botox.

Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband has been an absolute superstar rolling with my crazy plans and I’ll be forever grateful he trusts me to see things that he hasn’t yet seen. I’ve written many a love letter this year to him and my appreciation for the ways big and small he makes my life better.

Whose behavior made you appalled? Not appalled necessarily but the dick riders are really a bummer. We are all sinners and ain’t none of us are saints.

Where did most of your money go? We bought a very nice piece of land with a gorgeous farmhouse on it. The second biggest expense after buying a house was medical bills. It’s fun to be sick in America. Third on that list is food both because my husband is a gourmet cook and because inflation on food was quite high.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? Being a homeowner has been exciting as hell. Everything about buying a house and making it our own has been amazing. I also spent a lot of time excited about DAOs and corporate governance, my founders, and spending a month next to the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

What song will always remind you of this year? I don’t listen to much music so I don’t have an answer.

Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer? I am happier, poorer, and thinner than I was last year.

What do you wish you’d done more of? I have a lot of things I want to beat myself up about for not doing more, but I actually feel like I didn’t my time well this year. I don’t always need to be improving things. So I guess I wish I was comfortable doing less.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Beating myself up for not doing more.

How are you spending the holidays? I am in bed with my husband watching disaster porn movies while it is 45 degrees below Fahrenheit.

Did you fall in love this year? I am deeper in love than I was last year which is one of the benefits of always working on yourself and having a partner that also works on themselves.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I wouldn’t say I hate them but I’ve been disappointed with everyone involved in Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

What was your favorite show? The Peripheral. It is the adaption on Amazon of William Gibson’s most recent novels and it is stunningly good science fiction. I’ve enjoyed a lot of television this year though.

What was the best book you read? Hands down Peter Watt’s Blindsight which I cannot believe I didn’t read till this year. If you are autistic I in particular recommend it.

What was your greatest musical discovery of the year? Again I don’t really do music.

What was your favorite film? I’m not a big film person so I didn’t watch a ton of movies this year. I’m a TV person. But probably the Weird Al parody biopic. Extremely funny and very sweet. Worth taking the trouble to find on Roku.

What was your favorite meal? I’ve had so many amazing meals this year. Perfect Montana steaks is probably at the top but schnitzel in Frankfurt, branzino in the Mediterranean, BBQ in Austin, and stone crabs in Miami round out the list. I traveled a lot this year and that means I had a lot of great meals.

What did you want and get? A homestead in Montana.

What did you want and not get? A visa for a family friend. American immigration is extremely broken. I’m hoping I get the visa granted next year for them.

What did you do on your birthday? I discussed my “fundraise in public” for chaotic capital and spent it with Elle Morrill and my husband. Elle cooked for me and it was absolutely epic.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? The American immigration system working. But that’s like asking for world peace. I spent a lot of time and social capital trying to get a visa that still hasn’t been granted.

How would you describe your personal fashion this year? Black. I mostly wear cotton black sweats and a long sleeve cotton tee-shirt. My biggest upgrade to that look was adding in a Lunya robe. But I also bought a bunch of chore clothing for working on the homestead. I also got to enjoy my “heat” wardrobe which is mostly Grecian gowns made by Norma Kamali.

What kept you sane? My therapist Dagmar and writing every single day.

Which celebrity/public figure did you admire the most? Folks hate this answer but I love Kim Kardashian. She works her ample ass off for her family business, spends her time working against the carceral state, makes a great bra and she started a private equity firm.

What political issue stirred you the most? The government’s interest in deciding what I do with my own body. I’m a libertarian because the very foundation of sovereignty rests on your right to control your own body. Though this issue is very closely followed by our inability to grant visas and bring immigrants to America in terms of animating my energy this year.

Who did you miss? I miss my grandmother Nanamai. She’s my mother’s mother. She’d be so proud of what I’ve done with my life. I wish she’d be been alive to wear one of my lipsticks. I wish she were alive to see the family life I’ve built. She passed on more than a decade ago and I’m still consumed by grief if I think about it too hard.

Who was the best new person you met? There are almost too many to chose from. Meeting in person my internet friends who got me through the pandemic is the correct answer. You know who you are. And I can’t wait to meet more of them. Internet friends are real friends.

What valuable life lesson did you learn this year? I learned a lot watching hero worshippers, I mean dickriders, beg their chosen figurehead to save them. But alas the only person who can save you is you.

What is a quote that sums up your year? Fuck around and find out.” But in all seriousness just doing the thing and trying shit out is actually crucial in life and business.

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Internet Culture

Day 717 and Walled Garden

The walled garden debate is back in Silicon Valley. What is a walled garden you ask? It’s a closed ecosystem in which your entry, exit and experience in the garden are controlled by a central entity. While modern social media has very centralized ownership structures, we’ve basically aligned on allowing sharing of content and interactions across and between platforms. We’ve homestead the modern social internet by tilling our profiles and tending our communities.

But people are straining at the compromises we’ve made over the years. Elon Musk is attempting a rather heavy handed walled garden strategy on Twitter by banning linking and promotion of competing websites.

It’s unclear if it will last at the moment as within hours Elon apologized for making a massive change without a vote. Whatever that means. It’s been six hours of chaos as people reactively extremely negative to being told you cannot link to your Instagram or Facebook accounts. A few dickriders attempted to defend it by saying it was freeloading but it isn’t really tragedy of the commons that Twitter can’t make money off my hard work.

I’m old enough to remember the sheer indignation of Linux dorks had for the all encompassing closed systems that is Apple. Jailbreaking was a pastime for a whole generation of nerds. Sure the money folks kept trying to contain their ecosystems giving us nonsense like America Online, but information wanted to be free right? Well Stewart Brand fans know that isn’t the whole quote

Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine—too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property’, the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better.

Stewart Brand Whole Earth Catalog

Whatever is going on inside Twitter and Elon Musk’s mind is unclear. But the basic tension of the internet has not changed. We built tools to network together whole worlds and that has been fucking with ideas of ownership and who gets paid since day one. Capitalism usually finds a way to ride on top of these issues of ownership and value but the technological progress came out space old norms quite quickly.

And we are in a moment where skepticism of these norms is being challenged. Why shouldn’t we get to chose how we engage with our own property online? Maybe we don’t own the land but we definitely homestead our little plots of internet land.

Because the nature of the internet is wild and untamed. It takes work to make it usable. And most of us don’t mind paying a fee to keep the grass trimmed. A few of us might even prefer a country club experience. But the trouble with any commons starts when enclosure starts.

And Elon seems to be going for something that’s more heavy handed HOA than parcel of land outside of county lines. And like your average president of the homeowners association, he seems to be taking concerns and criticisms quite personally.

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Internet Culture

Day 716 and Slightly Embarrassed

I spent my entire day on Twitter. I’m not embarrassed by that to be clear. It felt like a vacation day. And even though I live in a majestic mountain paradise, I will spend my time off inside looking at my phone.

Yes it was absolutely gorgeous day in Montana. I marveled at the playful pinks of the sunrise over the mountains in our backyard while drinking coffee. And then I got back in bed and on my phone. And you better believe I fucking doomacrolled.

I just gorged myself on cheap attention calories. Gimme that dopamine drip. I did not even try to modulate my consumption pattern or prevent myself from going into fight or flight. It was goblin mode. I’m still not embarrassed.

But Twitter is a fucking mess. Watching people go tribal on Elon Musk is worse than people going tribal on the president somehow. Maybe because it feels more personal to me? Don’t get me wrong Trump felt existential, but Elon Musk is personal.

And it’s fucking embarrassing watching people react to him and his decision making. Here it is my industry’s moment in the spotlight. The technology industry showing itself as a keeper of common goods and open discourse right? Absolutely fucking not. We’ve shat the bed. Old management was incompetent sure. But new management is not an improvement.

I went into Twitter being purchased by Elon Musk modestly optimistic. He’s our guy right? He’s one of us. He likes startups and capital and technology. He reads the same science fiction as me. We’ve got friends in common. This is what it’s like to be a fan of the home team right?

Well fuck me sideways it has been going poorly. The site is pretty broken but I’m over that. It’s just the constant mayhem. Dave Kellog termed it adhocracy. Some random bullshit happens and the whole website has to lurch around conspiracy theories and rationalization.

It has frankly not been a fine showing for techno-libertarians. Not sure about showing up for a monarch executive now that you’ve seen your civil rights up for terms-of-service revisions by fiat huh? I’ve always thought the neo-monarchists to be dickriders but that’s a sentence that’s only comprehensible to the terminally online. And yes I should go outside and touch snow. I’ll do that now.

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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