I am always on the cusp with this blog between quitting it and finding out new messed up things happening in the world that I should probably write about. I hope you like the graphic that heads this post—I made it myself, inspired by a Robert Anton Wilson quote from The Cosmic Trigger I in which he wondered if we were being psychically invaded by aliens resembling the Marx Brothers.
Here’s Assange getting bitchy:
All the Internet icons of the past 15 years are sort of either imploding, ripping each other apart like Facebook/Wikileaks, or even ending up deceased. There was this “wild west” quality of the Internet which all these people represented that is quickly drawing to a close. “End of an era” sort of thing…a “transferring of the guard”…sort of like that Goodfellas “Layla” montage. When everything started, everyone with a computer and a hot idea were big shots…
…and now it’s all sort of falling apart for people or things get bought out or life just goes on. You know: “Layla.” Something like that.
Even websites themselves aren’t pulling in the dough they used to; that’s why so many of them have multiple screen-wide popups, dueling autoplay videos, and other measures to make the reading experience as difficult as possible. Because the only way the site can make $ is through the ads. I remember working for several major sites years ago where the readability of the content was a major concern; you know, everybody sitting around the boardroom table looking at screenshots and getting feedback from designers. But that sort of reader usability is not an issue anymore for a lot of mainstream sites.
I remember for a while the mainstream political site The Hill had a “Pac-Man” screen as takeover that would play every time you visited. Because that’s why you go to a political website. To see Pac-Man wind through the maze every day, eating pellets.
Maybe nowadays, that is why you’d go to a political website.
It all kind of makes me search for as crazy news stories as possible; just as a palette-cleanser from all the corruption and divisiveness. Here’s a story about giant, genetically-engineered “Hulk-like” wild boars, for instance.
Oh, and here’s a chuckle. The contender for “greatest redaction on a FOIA document of all time,” from Amtrak:
The only thing deemed “safe” for public consumption on this was the phrase “no snack car.” I wish you could send emails, Tweets, and even texts with the redaction bars already in place…keep them guessing, you know. It’s called “proactive damage control.”
I’m looking for more dumb news stories here…I’m looking for more “fake news,” but everything’s all-too-real. No, some of it is neither real nor fake…but rather, kind of “engineered.” I don’t mean in a “false flag” way, but like in a “keep the news cycle going” sort of way.
Like you wear your #MAGA hat and loiter by some campus revolutionary hoping for it to get yanked off your head so it can be this massive right-wing story. Or you have hit the “jackpot” of your life when Melania Trump donates a bunch of Dr. Seuss books to your library; so you can throw them right back in her face and write a public letter explaining how the books are racist. Each side of the ideological aisle, just waiting…for the next…BIG STORY…
But to the #MAGA hat peeps—not the ones pushing the $torie$ but the actual people sharing them—you know they don’t see it that way, like some cynical thing. To them, the yanking off of the hat is like the opening shot of some sort of “civil war” where they will be killed and rendered irrelevant (which is worse?). Similarly, to the supporters of the “anti-Dr. Seuss Librarian,” the Trump donation of books was like this knowingly offensive and aggressive act that requires public shame and condemnation—not quite as bad as the entire island of Puerto Rico being demolished, but pretty damn close by their reckoning.
And this is what some people sincerely believe. And that is why these stories run, and why they get viral and massively shared. It’s like the Pac-Man screen over the political website, it’s like the dueling autoplay videos. If there was a way I could tie this all to the genetically-altered Hulk-like gigantic wild boars, I would. I really would.
And when I do feel like no longer running this site, a lot of that comes from this desire to no longer access the Internet outside of what I need to do for work & just being in touch with a select group of family and friends. There is the desire in me to just do what we’ve seen in that Amtrak FOIA example: have black bars over most of it, flatten it all into some easy-to-read simple text format that I could easily read on my old Nokia, and just cut away most of that current Internet media culture from my line of sight. Not forever, mind you…but just for a bit. Just as a palette cleanser. Just to “reset.”
But then I come to my senses and realize…that if I didn’t have the Internet…if I didn’t have *Internet Culture*…I wouldn’t have this:
And it’s good to keep the Mission in mind. Pennywise. Star Wars Prequel memes. The sexy Russian bots who follow me on Twitter and make me temporarily feel like I have more real Followers but I don’t. All of it. It’s the Dream.
By the way, do you remember Ray Liotta from Goodfellas? He’s the KFC guy now.