Last week after my little detour to talk a bit about myself, I took that week off from publishing a newsletter that I’d intended. I didn’t really talk about why.
Lately I’ve been reading Anne Helen Petersen’s book about millenial burnout, ‘Can’t Even‘. It’s been a good history of how we got here and what it means, with just a bit of the relatable, visceral first person accounts of people exhausted by everything. Social media isn’t the only or even main reason for my own burnout, but it exacerbates many of the others.
And this book was written mainly before the pandemic! There are others like myself who have taken to making themselves less available online, specifically in those public squares that flatten all experiences in the same status box. A birth announcement, a new job, over half a million deaths, a cute drawing. All take up the same space on your screen and in your mind.
Twitter is the social media that’s kept me around, even if it’s in the form of the open source, self hosted version, Mastodon. As much as there are stories of people having their lives and even identities ruined by Twitter, it’s an addictive machine as insidious as all social media. Made for reactivity and passive scrolling in equal measure.
I have regularly thought about leaving Twitter, and I’m not alone in that feeling. I can’t help but note that in this article Caitlin Flanagan doesn’t actually say that she’s quitting. Just that she cut it out for a month after forcing herself to, then hopped back on. It’s much easier said than done for most of us.
I don’t think that we should stigmatize being online, but I do think that we could have frank discussions with one another about how we live our lives online. Specifically how we can allow it to swing our moods around so much, and how it leaves a lasting feeling of hurt when we’ve turned the screen off. Which is becoming harder to do as they follow us more and more places.
So what’s the solution? I still share plenty here, but there’s gotta be a better way.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how queer culture cannibalizes itself, but didn’t want to bifurcate the message of today’s newsletter. Look forward to that next week, unless something else jumps up to catch my eye.
How Old-School Text Adventures Inspired Our Virtual Spaces – Elizabeth Landau, Wired
I love the idea of text adventures, but it’s really hard to get into most for me. The people who make them have a lot more insight into how we interact online than the latest FPS developer.
The Internet Is Rotting – Jonathan Zittrain, The Atlantic
The internet is fragile because information is dropped and changed all the time.
I recently installed Amber on my site in an attempt to save copies of things that have been linked. Heck, a tweet that I was going to include was cut when I noticed that the account has since been made private.
Watch a Police Officer Admit He’s Playing a Taylor Swift Song to Keep Activist’s Video Off YouTube – Whitney Kimball, Gizmodo
Long suspected, and without any pretense confirmed. Why face consequences when you can have something deleted via algorithm?
Sonic Smut Is Flooding Trump’s New Social Network – Alexandra Hall, Kotaku
Oh no, who ever could have guessed this? This certainly hasn’t played out repeatedly in the past on other sites. And this doesn’t even get to Gettr being hacked immediately for user data mining and account modification.
the age of the selfie is over, long live picrew – Elizabeth Lovatt
I think it’s a great idea to use cartoon pictures for profiles. I’ve been doing so most non-professional places for a long time, and have started doing so in professional spaces as well. With sufficient customization, you can show a lot more personality than the average forward facing selfie or headshot can provide.
Sci-Fi Short Film: “H.appiness” | DUST
This isn’t far off from how some people live their lives now. It’s not all bad, but a good warning that it could get there.
These photos sparked a Cold War propaganda feud
Love to see other countries point out that America is far from perfect too.
How Bo Burnham Did The Impossible
Sorry, not gonna stop talking about Inside yet. Or how great the lighting and set design is.
Not a bad overview, and I learned a few things as well. It would be nice to pair something like this with the excellent new comic Sensory: Life on the Spectrum to help neurotypicals have a better idea of the breadth of being autistic and what it is like.
Our Lady Peace – Stop Making Stupid People Famous (ft. Pussy Riot)
I first found Our Lady Peace in middle school, and never stopped loving them. Their new album is supposed to be a sequel to my favorite album of theirs, Spiritual Machines. Catchy and a new sound with that same recognizable voice.
I like the way that both guests talk about how identities like otherkin relate to queer identities and acceptance. The envelope is always being pushed, like the DID/plural community via TikTok. I think the most important thing is to meet people where they are and try not to dictate who they are to them.
Could Mind Control End Crime? – Flash Forward
That sci-fi short linked above, H.appiness, is about choosing to let an app regulate your mood. What if it were to be imposed on you?
Again, not over Bo Burnham. Nor covers from newer YouTube personalities that I tangentially know like crankgameplays. Why do I get the feeling that he is being more earnest in that video than most anything I’d seen him in from Unus Annus?
If you made it this far, why not share this newsletter with a friend? Or share with me some of the things that you found that you liked this week.