The Deluge, noun
1: an (almost) weekly stream of consciousness rant about art, politics, and whatever else is in my mind.
2: an excuse to weed my mind's garden of errant thoughts and get back to working on the novel.
“Nonlinear warfare was inspired, after all, by conceptual art. People like to be confused. We like things we don’t understand. That’s why we like bad painting, and theory, and religion, and conspiratory art-adjacent paganism.”
- Dean Kissick
In my more conspiratorial moments I harbor a theory that modern design is conspiring against us, making us stupid, making it harder to think straight or see things clearly. So much of existence seems like an effort to clear away these thickets to our thinking so as to not over exert ourselves attempting to project our thoughts through the tiniest pinprick of remaining light.
All of this is to say I used Spotify for about 20 minutes other day and the thing looks like an artificial intelligence's representation of a migraine. A UI so cluttered, so cheap, and so clunky it seems purposefully reminiscent of the type of website that would leave you with a computer virus in the 90s (our generation's first STIs). How anyone uses a service that's structured this way is beyond me but I'm sure they're all the mentally poorer for it.
But I don't really believe the coders at Spotify are engaged in a conspiracy against mankind through clunky UI anymore than I believe Facebook (or any social media company) operates with malevolent intent in their numerous fumbled attempts at moderating content across their platforms.
There is a popular belief out there that companies like Facebook and Twitter are unique generational threats without precedent aiding in the spread of things like Trumpism and conspiracy theories. Beneath the surface of this belief lies an assumption about how ideas spread almost like infectious disease, poisoning unwilling minds not previously open to such notions. This, dear reader, is part and parcel of an ideology that believes ideas themselves can be dangerous in a way that is adverse to human health.
The truth of the matter is none these phenomena are even remotely new. What has been said about Facebook and Twitter was previously said about Fox News, talk radio, and even right wing newsletters (remember The Ron Paul Survival Report?). The proponents of the idea that this is a special or unique threat to this particular moment do nothing to acknowledge the history of such things and will only shift their arguments to each succeeding technology ad nauseam.
In reality none of this thinking comes close to addressing or reckoning with the underlying issue at hand: that we know that for some reason these ideas consistently hold sway with a not insignificant portion of the population that will spread and promulgate these ideas all on their own, even through snail mail if they have to.
Now does technology like Facebook's groups feature accelerate the spread of these ideas to an already willing audience? Of course, but if the solution to this problem is to fight the technology rather than deal with the underlying arguments then congratulations on remixing Ted Kaczynski's failures. There is no pause button.
In a way the way we look at algorithms today is similar to how people in the past viewed demonic possession, not only are we not seeing the problem in front of us for what it is but we're also retreating into fear and superstition. The demons of old didn't sell you knock off Snuggies.
But but fortunately for credulous minds such fears and superstitions are the order of the day in 2020 as we embrace political ideology as a form of secular theology while running roughshod over notions of psychological health.
Remember when Instagram used to be fun? I made the mistake of opening it on the second Monday in October only to be immediately greeted by the phrase "the settler within."
Who on earth do these concepts actually help? Are generations of Native American pain somehow alleviated through a white person's self-flagellation on a social network that's mostly kitschy interiors and thirst traps? It used to be less noticeable but now the appropriation of original sin is about as subtle as a James Cameron metaphor (in the theater watching Avatar I was the baby seal and Cameron was the one wielding a club called metaphor).
In some ways I think part of the reason our politics is so fucked stems from an increasingly secular society not forging ahead with healthy or constructive modes of meaning. An identity forged or formed around politics is an invitation to perpetual misery and disappointment but the practice also has roots in some of the worst aspects of the 20th century. Not only does this fail to produce good political outcomes it also causes people to emotionally identify with ideas in a way that inhibits their own interpretations of reality itself (a person with an emotional attachment to a bad idea holds fast to it even when disproven, the feeling itself outweighing any approach to established truth).
It's how you exit a political primary with a clear and constant frontrunner but still have people booting up the 2020 version of "a vast rightwing conspiracy" to explain how such a clearly favored candidate won. Better to cling to false consciousness than accept your under performing candidate's politics don't appeal all that much to the actual constituents of the actual Democratic party who also don't live on Twitter.
But not even in the next breath these people churn out Op-ed after Op-ed that reads a bit like this: "I Got Everything Wrong About Joe Biden in the Primary: Here's What I Think He Should Do Next."
- Next weeks should be more writing focused but it is 2020 and who knows if there's going to be a next week?
- The Donald Trump as master manipulator shtick was his greatest (and only successful) con, promulgated by gullible fans and enabled by an opposition party who could not possibly accept that the worst presidential candidate in modern political history- and I'm including Vermin Supreme here- lost to a chronic jackass with all the restraint of a chronic masturbator (this was not a Jeffrey Toobin joke until I opened these parentheses)
- Prediction: if you thought Alex Jones was bad just wait until Donald Trump is out of office and the conspiratorial gloves really come off, as evinced in his conspiratorial retweets about the bin Laden raid.
- Oh, and speaking of bin Laden:
I can't wait for Tucker Carlson to get incensed about people burning flags again.
“You know, before anyone at the Vatican starts calling anyone else a pedophile, you might want to check the color of your kettle because we traced the call, and it’s coming from inside the belfry.”
- Bill Maher