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 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
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 Startups

Day 404 and My Process

Being sick gave me an investing process. I have ankylosing spondylitis which is an inflammatory condition of the spine. It’s well controlled but still affects my day to day routines. It means I spend a lot of time in bed on my phone online. And this is how I generate alpha.

I spend my entire day on Twitter, in Discord, in DAO governance chats, in news RSS feeds and on Reddit. I’m extremely online. Terminally so. Like a LOT. I’m talking twelve hours a day. Which has turned out to be great for deal flow and diligence.

Being extremely online gives you some significant tactical advantages as an investor.

  • Persistent read of zeitgeist
  • Always online intaking discourse that will move market sentiments
  • Omnipresent availability to founders and ready to interact

Being online and intaking discourse gives me additional time and analysis with emerging trends, personalities and opportunities. By the time something has gained traction I’ve already made a move. I can move fast and confidently ahead of others because I’ve just had more time with the materials.

In somewhat bleaker terms I already live in the metaverse. Having a disability gave me early access to new ways of living online by forcing me to live a lot of my life virtually. If I wanted to socialize I had to do it in bed. I had experience with this before the pandemic. And I’m already been living where the rest of the world will be migrating now. You are gentrifying my neighborhood.

Categories
Finance Internet Culture

Day 359 and SOS

A few days ago I wondered what project or cultural artifact was going to grab our mutual cultural attention during the Christmas vacation week? Something always does. One year it was fucking Quora if you can believe it. This year I’m ready to call it for $SOS at least if you are into Web3 and crypto economics.

On fucking Christmas Day these degenerates drop a contract to let anyone claim tokens who has ever purchased an NFT on the OpenSea marketplace. And people went ape shit. Suddenly someone had taken all the visible contributions from OpenSea and manifested them in a token and said this is ours. Fuck corporate dominance of profit your users hold the real value. I’ve never seen anything so ballsy. Last year when Wall Street Bets decided to taken on hedge funds I felt like we had entered a new era of community behavior.

An emergent community has swum up from the sea and eaten the lunch of a supposedly greedy centralized platform. Web3 just attacked what we didn’t even realize was Web2. A crypto darling turned parable for centralization in the space of a few years. $SOS seemed to say community owned this value all along. The airdrop showed us the balance of power in a web3 community if we all work together. I’m so impressed by the sheer cultural force of the statement. It could all go horribly awry but god damn if it isn’t utopian.

I’ve got not fucking clue if this is a legitimate contract or not. I’m not going to FUD. But from a first principles, we are building a new internet where the incentives of the users align with the technology statement, then this is quite a shot across the bow. Also I’m pretty sure this makes it harder for OpenSea to IPO if their user base is in open rebellion against who gets rewarded.

The thing is I believe Devin to be a well meaning and genuinely forward thinking guy. He’s a terrific communicator that set out with the utopian intentions that we all do. But we are moving so fast with breaking cultural norms and acceptable societal level rewards for contributions to an economy that I think we might have just spiraled up to some kind of cultural singularity. Crypto might just be moving that fast. Whatever happens this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen from a startup. Score one for the anonymous degens.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 283 and Presencing

Nick Couldry uses the term ‘presencing’ in his book Media, Society, World to talk about how we go into digital or media spaces to manage our presence over time. It’s a way we cultivate a sense of wider purpose through a public presence. And because of the way suffering and trauma marginalize people, this act of making yourself more visible is even more important.

I was browsing Anne Helen Peterson’s newsletter Culture Study when the above quote hit me over the head. The interview was on the topic of ambiguous grief with a media studies professor Samira Rajabi. While the writing is almost uncomfortably academic it resonated with me immediately. I have been engaging in presenceing for the entire course of my illness. I just never had a name for why I felt like a public presence mattered to me.

While it sounds unbelievable, I never considered that I might be using social media as a way to give myself visibility in the face of the trauma of an extended and chronic illness. I’ve always been a heavy user of social media so I didn’t find it unusual that I spent significantly more time on Twitter and blogging as I went through the diagnosis and recovery process.

I had been used to being visible in my previous life. I was regularly in media for my startups and I had cultivated some amount of public presence on and off since I was in college. But I didn’t really become a Twitter personality that cultivated a presence and interactions and a voice until I got sick. Without knowing it was presencing myself.

In American culture in particular, there is a strong preference for triumphant stories. So we can conceive of suffering if it can be managed and overcome, but rarely do we know what to do with a story of chronic pain and suffering and how relentlessly it reminds a person that they no longer fit into the so-called “normal” world. To me, it becomes even more important for those people to be seen.

I really wanted my story to fit into a narrative when I first got diagnosed. I had all kinds of ambitions of overcoming and healing that were quickly dashed on the reality of my life. I was never going to be normal again. And I hated that. I still find myself overcome with grief at the prospect that there is no triumphant return.

But I want people to see that grief. And see that it’s alright. That life went on. I didn’t lose myself. Even in pain and illness, or perhaps because of it, I’ve gained ground in finding myself. The pain and degradation of illness is ugly and shitty but also powerfully transformative.

I have not given up just because the narrative isn’t clear and the story has no simple arc. Any impression we have that stories have structure is imposed in hindsight. We love our post-hoc rationalization. We love our pattern recognition. But the through line is never clear in the moment. And that’s why presence matters. We all need the visibility of the truth even if it doesn’t fit neatly into the story our culture has given us.

Categories
Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 198 and Kindness from Strangers

I’ve written about how terribly I’ve felt physically for the past 6 straight days. The last positive day of writing I had was 8 days ago. People have noticed the emotional tone of this struggle.

Generally speaking a day or two of being down doesn’t get noticed on social media, but a continuous streak of being “off” tends to get noticed by your community. Your mutuals know who you are even from afar. Your mutuals see your struggles. Your mutuals may know more about you than you imagine. And I’ve found your mutuals may genuinely care about you.

I’ve never felt less alone than I have the past year under quarantine. Maybe it’s because the network of mutuals that shares their personality and life has spent more time on the give and take of commenting, posting, responding and messaging across social media. When we are forced to contend with our own inner emotional lives we can extend more empathy to others.

So while others may have seen politicization, partisanship and other externalized anger on social media, I’ve found mostly grace and kindness. People who I have never met in the flesh have shared their knowledge, their vulnerability and their network with me. When I have opened myself up I have been met with with compassion and understanding.

If you share a period of struggle and your desire to get out from under it you may not be far from help. The kindness of your community is within reach. Even, perhaps especially, your social media community. If you are hurting share that burden. I have and it is much lighter.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 139 and Saving The Insights

One of the unexpected aspects of having audience, even a small one, is wanting your good shit to be saved for them. I regularly find myself saying shit to my friends or my husband only to stop myself and say “that needs to go on Twitter!” And then occasionally to their chagrin I will open the app and attempt to condense the insight or joke into 140 characters. If it’s a longer point I’ll open up WordPress and attempt to get the thesis on paper.

A significant upside to saving good shit for an audience is that you have a written record. There is no worse feeling than completely losing an insight because you didn’t write it down. I dislike phone calls or Zooms because I’m not a natural born note taker. If I’m just shooting the shit I’m prone to forgetting whatever I just said. I can spend an hour feeling like I’ve really dug into a point only to find myself with complete amnesia because I neither shared it nor did I get a note down. By stopping myself and recording it to social media I find I retain more of the good stuff. I guess I’ve accidentally created a workflow where my note taking system is posting it to Twitter. Sorry Evernote turns out the killer feature for note taking was actually having reply guys.

This system of trusting an audience to have immediate access to your good shit does takes some getting used to. I’ve written about my fondness for shitposting as an inherently healthy emotional act. Sharing who you are without any filtering is scary. But it’s a muscle that can be developed. When I am working with portfolio companies or my communications clients I encourage them to just start getting content out on whatever platform is easiest for them. I picked Twitter as I’m most comfortable with written formats but I obviously also find blogging on WordPress to be easy. Instagram or more visual platforms make me anxious. Formal platforms like LinkedIn make me second guess every word. For me immediate unpolished platforms where I can just say shit is the way.

Categories
Chronicle Internet Culture

Day 123 and Being Liked

I asked if folks cared if other people liked them today on Twitter. The results are surprisingly mixed on the issue.

A Twitter poll asking if folks care if others like them with 4 options: yes, no, yes but I like about it and no but I lie about it.

The four options were Yes, No, Yes But I Lie About It and No But I Lie About It. It is fascinating to see the breakdown in responses even a few hours into the poll. I don’t know what I thought the response would be but I don’t think it was an even split.

Now, of course, I didn’t ask if being likeable is good, or bad, or even helpful. I just asked if people cared. It’s likely people who do care don’t think it’s good that they care. And there are people who don’t care that maybe which wish did as caring about being liked may have benefits. I don’t actually believe that a third of folks don’t care as frankly society would look pretty different if 35% of us just didn’t care about perception. And sure you can argue that you don’t care but you hide the fact, but then your answer would have been the least popular option “no and I lie about it” which is lagging in the results. My guess is that a number of folks are aspirational “no” votes which I can respect. I’m confident I would have voted no in my twenties. I used to be an aspirational no vote

Currently my vote would be “Yes But I Lie About It” but I’m not sure if I’m lying to myself or others with that answer. I don’t generally care what people think of me but I think I lie to myself about needing to care. I think being liked is important and I want to act like I care more. I’ve got some hang ups about not having been a more palatable person when I was younger. Maybe if I had been nicer or better behaved or well…just more likable I’d be richer, more loved, have a better relationship with my family and other fantasies. I’m also not convinced that changing myself for others has the benefits I think. That’s just some 4 year old inner child trauma emotions. How others feel about me has little to do with me and a lot to do with them. That’s true for how I feel about others. My reaction to you says a lot about my emotions, trauma and hang ups than it does about if you are likable.

Categories
Aesthetics Chronicle Internet Culture Media

Day 87 and Information Processing

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

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

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

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

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

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