On the internet, Everything happens so much. But you don’t need to stand out in the rain to know it’s raining.
Permanently moved is a personal podcast 301 seconds in length, written and recorded by @thejaymo
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Just a quick note to say that my first ever published science fiction story is out now in the anthology ‘And Lately, The Sun: Speculative fictions for a climate-thrashed world‘. It’s a Solarpunk clifi story with Andrew Dana Hudson called ‘In the Storm, A Fire‘. A tense thriller in a near future America with fascist characteristics.
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The Weather On Social Media
There’s two articles I’d like to talk about this week.
The first is an old 2011 piece on Gizmodo by Sam Bindle. called The New Internet Will Make You Sad Forever. Writing at the time on the emergence of web tools like Timehop and Facebook timeline. It also addresses Instagram Filters and the emergence of Millennial Faux Nostalgia.
The web is an empty nostalgia factory.
When everything is worth becoming a memory, what’s that say about remembrance? If everything is the object of nostalgia and reminiscence then I don’t really know what those things mean anymore—it would seem to be nothing.The New Internet Will Make You Sad Forever
I’m reminded of Nathen Jugenson author of the Social Photo series’s written around the same time. Filtered photos were popular because they” “place yourself and your present into the context of the past, the authentic, the important and the real.” Despite this air of past authenticity being entirely simulated. Then citing Jamerson “we draw back from our immersion in the here and now […] and grasp it as a kind of thing.” around the application of the filter on an image.
Bindle also explains that tools like facebook timeline re-expose pre-nostalgic content.
We spoon feed ourselves these bites of personal history because everything happens too fast to eat something better. The web churns, and we churn with it—our lives are often accelerated beyond the ability to stop and appreciate anything, let alone discern the meaningful.THE NEW INTERNET WILL MAKE YOU SAD FOREVER
For me a key element of the web is that digital and material realities dialectically co-construct one another. So if you are posting and consuming content to the web without meaning, then in my opinion meaning slips away in the material too.
There are a lot of personalities grifting online right now puzzling through the so called meaning crisis in western culture. A discourse I actually have a lot of time for. Their diagnosis and exploration of solutions is far more interesting to me than their proposals.
Any of them seem to be stripping meaning making mechanisms from spiritual toolkits. I don’t think it’s going to work, but i wish them luck.
I recently read another article on outline.com by Tom Whyman. Called ‘Everything Happens So Much Our experience of calendar time has come unmoored. We may need to consider an alternative.’
It opens with a joke tweet about how 2018: seemed About 1,000 years ago and Last week: was also about 1,000 years ago. The post is from 2019. But very relevant considering the wider Internet’s jokes about 2020.
By way of Mark Fisher, Whyman says that we now exist in “a general condition: in which life continues, but time has somehow stopped.”. The trajectory of the future has disappeared and, with it, culture “has lost the ability to grasp and articulate the present.”
Because on the internet – everything happens so much.
If everything never stops happening, then it must become impossible to get a proper sense of when anything in particular started, or ended, or was going on, or whatever.Everything Happens So Much Our experience of calendar time has come unmoored. We may need to consider an alternative.
Whyman goes on to say the internet for the most part, runs parallel to the everyday. And this dislocation is happening because the internet hasn’t yet sucked everyone in. Unless you are extremely online whole swathes of culture can blossom and die in a single day. Without your ever becoming aware of them.
He also brings up the phenomenon of endless rolling news live blogs – who has time or mental space to follow constant rolling news about Brexit?
So we have two problems.
- Pre-nostalgic experience/content recycled back to the present.
- The endless churn of the online present where everything happens so much.
I would also add the move to algo-content has caused further dislocation of narrative and chronology.
As a solution, Whyman’s suggests that we start indexing our lives to the rhythms not to the clock. Or the sun or the rotation of the earth’s axis. But to the internet.
I can’t think of anything worse. I disagree with this solution. The internet isn’t all one thing, and it certainly isn’t what happens in your corner of the internet.
As @diogoVav commented on twitter:
Indexing your life to the internet would be like indexing your life to the weather. It’s raining over here right now but it’s sunny over there. Nonsense.
If digital and material realities dialectically co-construct one another – then the weather on social media will bleed through into real life.
Which is exactly how I feel about what goes on – on social media all day everyday.
But you don’t need to stand out in the rain to know it’s raining.
The script above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in audio due to time constraints.