Thursday, January 28, 2021
Thursday, September 17, 2020
I recently deactivated Facebook and Instagram. Trust me, I'm not ignorant of the fact that I am posting on a Google-owned platform and sharing this on Twitter. They are both companies with the same issues that ultimately got me to delete Facebook and Instagram but Facebook was the world that I allowed to drive deep hooks into my brain and frankly, fuck it up.
These platforms stopped being fun a long time ago but I could never untangle myself. I moved from California to Texas in 2010 and I told myself that Facebook was the primary means in which I keep in touch with friends and family and if I left, I would lose contact. It was bullshit. The amount of contact I had with my friends and family outside of Facebook was sufficient enough. I'd post things on Facebook and I'd mindlessly like things and never really actually communicate on that platform. It was more voyeuristic than anything. I could peak into windows that people left open on purpose so their networks could watch them perform. It was all performance and farce.
I know a few things about cults and one of the main ways people feel trapped inside cults is that their entire social networks are in the same cult. You tell yourself that you can't leave because you lose business relationships, family relationships, and so on. Facebook is designed like a cult to keep you in and once you're in, your relationships aren't stronger because of it. You're forced to reinforce a dogma with your network to keep it comfortable for yourself -- just like a cult. The moments you do engage in debate, you're doing it for your friends that already agree with you. You're dunking on somebody for your clique to laugh and snicker at. I'm not saying there aren't idiots out there worthy of ridicule, I'm just saying we've built a ritual as a society to have very polarized discourse. We're trained to see everyone as an idiot or malicious. It is intoxicating to be self-righteous. It is intoxicating to be right. It is intoxicating to be loved by the right people and hated by the right people. It keeps us on and keeps us continually performing.
Everybody is a prisoner and everybody is a cop on social media. It's a form of the panopticon except for the fact that there is no guard. The prisoners are the guards. The prisoners monitor behavior and reward or punish constantly. They do it for free, too.
You can't create honestly in this environment. Your brain is constantly worried about how things will land and whether or not your opinion could be misinterpreted to the point that you either never state an opinion or you regurgitate word-for-word the acceptable script. We're sharing memes that are easy to agree with and easy to disagree with. We have gotten rid of all nuance because nuance is fucking boring. Nuance can't be made exciting. Nuance requires explanation and, even more, it requires someone willing to accept that there is nuance.
These small issues add up over time. They take a toll on mental health. Life has been stressful for everyone. Hostility feels good sometimes, man. But it doesn't end anymore. Everything is being framed and re-framed constantly. I've got close friends who I see as going off the deep end and we don't even talk anymore. They probably see me as going off the deep end. I've got family that believes some weird shit and it's because all of their time is spent reading dumb ass stuff on Facebook. I know these people. I know they aren't hateful but now that we all have layers of internet protection, we're comfortable straight-up lying about people and being cruel.
There are bad actors out there. There are dangerous groups. Facebook makes money off of these groups. White supremacist backed memes and facebook groups don't get into your uncle's feeds on accident. Facebook is allowing these groups to purchase ads to get them closer and closer to white supremacy. Some people say, "Well, we should be there to counter those things." You're not changing anything on Facebook. You don't have the money required to fight groups with advertising budgets that are trying to divide us. You will get drowned out because they are being fed by an algorithm that keeps them scrolling. Facebook does not care because you are worth 3 cents to sell to millions of willing buyers.
It's happening in America but this kind of manipulating users to go down political rabbit holes has real and deadly consequences in the real world. See Myanmar and Ethiopia. Facebook is a cartoon evil. There is little to no effort to curb selling your attention to bad actors. They'll sell to anyone.
We're all being fed our own reality-tunnels. Everything we do is being mined to manipulate us into giving it more attention. A little while back, I clicked on some Ben Shapiro thing. It was mindless. By accident. I don't even follow the guy on any social media stuff but now across platforms, I'm being recommended Ben Shapiro links left and right. Can you imagine actually getting stuck in that rabbit hole and having Ben Shapiro goggles on for the rest of your life? That's what's fucking happening and it's just the beginning.
We have our groups online. We have our actual friends who we have relationships with outside of the internet. These relationships are usually strong and full of context allowing us to be less punitive when a mistake is made. We give our friends the benefit of the doubt. But we don't do so for online acquaintances. We only see the performance side of their lives and we very easily build actual people into strawmen because they've built themselves into strawmen. It's probably not that simple but the internet demands us to pick a side and we usually do. I did. I pointed and laughed at idiots. I enjoyed when other people did, too. But it's fucked up and it was breaking my brain so I deleted it.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
First things first, if you drink American Diet Coke you are probably a fucking Trumper who rides around a golf cart ordering supersized everything while your legs turn purple from sitting on your nuts all day. Tweedle dee, dum dums. I had Diet Coke from Portugal and I can say emphatically that none of them over there voted for Trump. Unless they are Americans living abroad in which case, they can go back to their own country and, as they say in the South, throw hands with their Savior.
Why is American Diet Coke inferior to literally the rest of the world's Diet Coke? Good question, Punchy. As soon as I stop punching you, I'll let you know.
Face cleaned up yet? Great. Here's one more punch for that old nose, Smokey. Stop smoking. It's bad for your face mask.
European Diet Coke is made with MINERALS derived from NATURAL SOURCES. The CARBONATION is squeezed out of REFUGEES in PRISONS just happy to be dying in ITALY.
Look, Americans. We might have invented Diet Coke but Europeans perfected it. There's something about their water that just has more flavor. Maybe it's the hundreds-years-old pipes it's all coming through. Maybe it's the fact that they have separate faucets for cold and hot water. Maybe it's browned by distilled bidet water and loaded with glucosomate sorbato fructose only after it's in a can and pre-shaken. I'm shook just thinking about it.
Everybody who knows anything about the history of soda (pop, in some regions. Coke in others) knows that it's just beer for Mormons and Diet Coke is just Mormon Beer for Jehovah's Witnesses. Get off my doorstep before I draw Satan's dick on it, am I right? Don't want you going to Hell for my Dark Lord worship. Can't save me boys, I'm traipsing back and forth on transatlantic flights to score me some Portuguese Diet Coke. Jesus ain't my co-pilot, he's just some guy on this flight.
You have zero excuses now. If you're not drinking Portuguese Diet Coke, which I just discovered, you're a total piece of shit and you are the reason why America is dumber than a bag of Trump. Pussies!
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Wednesday, August 26, 2020
If there was a way to communicate with Earth, it would be used by the first generation of space travelers. They would have the mission to explore and colonize or whatever else they set out to do. But as they had kids and moved on in their giant space colony ships, interest in maintaining the mission for some faraway civilization they will never see again would wane. I'm sure this would spawn some kind of weird religious thing. There would be factions that wanted to maintain contact and factions that would not want to communicate. There would be factions that didn't care one way or another.
But as time passes, all of that would become more obscure. The original mission would be a Genesis story; familiar enough to remember but unimportant enough to dismiss upon hearing. The floating colony, generations removed from launching out of Earth's pull, would be completely apart from Earth. Earth would forget them, too.
It reminds me of the different philosophies of Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun series. The "rebel" faction remembers space travel and escaping Earth while it is utterly unimportant to the vast majority of the world. It reminds me of today. We look at history as a series of big moments and while we live through the big moments we can't even recognize as such. The right wing can dismiss the BLM protests because history paints the civil rights movement as massive. It's fixed in time. It's in the past. It's in the history books. We can't see the enormity of our moment right now because we are in it. Soon, it will be fixed in time too.
The times we are living in are important and massive and it is important to think about where we stand. We no longer have the luxury of knowing exactly how we'd act in great moments in the past. You can say you would stand against tyranny, you can say you would fight racism and oppression if only you had lived through that moment. You can say you would support Martin Luther King, JR and the protesters marching peacefully. It's easy to imagine yourself on the right side of everything. Be what you imagine yourself as in the past now. Be on the right side of the present.
Thursday, August 13, 2020
This is some #dadlife #advice. Here are some things I learned about babies in my one year of experience.
1. Babies shouldn't crawl. Crawling sets them up for a lifetime of knee and back damage. They don't even know what they're doing to themselves. If they're not ready to walk, they're not ready to move. You see your baby crawling? Grab it by the ankle and say, "NO!"
2. I'm going to be stuck on this crawling thing for awhile. If a baby is crawling around, they are obviously not at eye level so they are a tripping hazard to you and your guests. Who wants to spill their beer or break their face just because a baby is crawling around trying to learn about the world? Learn about the world on your own time, baby. Daddy's trying to get tanked.
3. Again, crawling. You should be in your high chair at all times so I can look at you with my peripheral vision if I deign to do so. Don't want your food now? I'm no waiter. And if you think I am one, I expect a tip. Do you have a job? Can't afford to tip, can't afford to eat out. Your food will be up there all day with you until you decide nutrition is something you want to be serious about. You're not moving until you can mow the lawn!
4. Babies make a lot of poop. Nobody told me this.
5. Sometimes babies try to get your attention because they want to smile or something. You ever wonder why Russia is so dominant all over the globe? It's because they bathe their children in vodka and leave them in the backyard. They don't smile. That's how you raise a kid, Punchy.
6. A strict cruelty-free diet should be given to children. This is how they learn about cruelty.
Being a dad is such a joy. You can send dad memes to all your dad friends until your kid starts screaming and you have to remind him who's boss. "Daddy's scrolling through his phone endlessly here, kid. Why don't you go play with the wall?"
THIS IS A JOKE. OK.
Friday, July 31, 2020
Thursday, July 30, 2020
We went to Hot Dog on a Stick, walked around the toy store (probably KB Toys), Walden Books, and Sam Goody. I remember seeing the poster for Michael Jackson's Bad album on the wall. My brother and I talked about how cool it looked. We rarely went to the mall and we much more rarely ever left with anything besides dinner in our bellies and tired eyes from window shopping.
We piled into the van and headed home. Just before we got home, a Michael Jackson song came on the radio. My brother and I were ecstatic. "You better get out of the car and turn it on the radio in the house before it's over," my dad said. We ran out. Turned it to the station. Commercial. "Dad! Mom! What station?" Then they answered with the station. It wasn't on.
My brain was white noise. I was confused. I was sad because I was going to miss the song. Out of the purse comes the cassette for Bad. They gave us a little surprise. It was great. We must have worn out the tape on it we listened to it so much.
It's a great memory. It gives me a feeling of warmth to recall it. But now that I'm actually sitting down trying to recall the details, I'm realizing there are a few things wrong with the story. It's hard to believe Sam Goody would have a poster of Bad still on the wall after four years. Surely, they'd take it off the wall. Especially when Dangerous was either just released or right around the corner. That must have been the poster my brother and I gawked at. Now that I think about it, we had probably pulled the Bad CD out of the stack and talked about how cool the graffiti was and the leather jacket and all that.
I remember very clearly flipping through CDs. In those days, CDs were packed in these really long cardboard boxes with the jewel cases at the very top. I think this was just an interim solution to converting vinyl shelving to CD shelves. Cassettes were still very much a thing in the early 90s so it's not baffling that my folks would get a cassette. They couldn't do their car-radio trick if they got a CD. We had a CD player at home.
It's not really important - the details. Details are good for vibrancy but the feeling and the "story" is still there. The past is always changing, no matter how hard we try to cling to the idea that it is affixed to a timeline far away. Perspectives change, your current self fucks with the details to make it relevant to you in your current moment. The past only serves the present and the present is always doomed to be past.
It was ten years and a month ago I moved to Texas. I told my friend, Jack, I was just going on a short trip to absorb a part of America I only knew via Hollywood stereotype. Texas was just horseshit and tumbleweeds in my mind.
There's no point to this post. It's just the process of untangling whatever is going on in my brain.
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