February 15, 2016

We want control of our bodies

I've tried to write this a few times. I spent yesterday nauseous and dizzy and unable to look at screens, and the feeling is back. It's actually what I'm trying to write about, and now I can't. Here's a short version, and some links.

I'm data exhausted. Not so much worried about the data I leave behind (though I should be), but of the amount I'm consuming. Endlessly, passively, ambiently absorbing and consuming. Like eating all day at a sub-par buffet, constantly full but never sated, to the point where you don't even enjoy your favorite dishes anymore. My brain is stuffed, and yet I can't retain or remember anything. And I physically feel this way, too: bloated, dull, fuzzy. 

On the 10 year anniversary of Silent Shout, The Knife gave the first joint interview since they disbanded in 2014. It's worth reading because they're great and that album's great, but this quote from Karin particularly describes exactly how I feel:

I think it has a lot to do with how consumption and capitalist society affects you, and how it controls our physical bodies as well. And I think the TV thing was very central for me—how TV culture calms you, makes you numb and takes away disorder. When you feel really shitty, you go home and you turn on the TV and it will ease your pain for a little while. And also the isolation—instead of running out from our houses to act, a lot of people stay at home instead. I think a lot of the tracks [on Silent Shout] are about a numb feeling. I mean, I hate a lot about this society. And I hate that the structures themselves try to do their best to make you numb and passive. The oppressive power structures benefit even more when you stay home in front of the TV. I know there are a lot of people who think the same way as I do. And still, it’s so hard to do things about it. 

And still, it's so hard to do things about it.

The internet feels more actionable than TV, but we're still largely using it in the palliative sense. Then Douglas Rushkoff comes around to remind you that the internet is a "designed environment," and is designed to extract value from you. And while it's doing that...

Facebook will market you your future before you’ve even gotten there, they’ll use predictive algorithms to figure out what’s your likely future and then try to make that even more likely. They’ll get better at programming you – they’ll reduce your spontaneity.

Which is just one of the nasty things they do.

Just to throw this one in here before another newsletter does: all indie fitness apps are owned by brands.

I literally can't write the rest of the things I want to say. Like staring at this screen is messing with my cognitive ability. Suffice it to say, we're numbing ourselves in an environment that it isn't particularly nice, and doesn't have our best interests at heart [for another time: flattening and codifying culture, purchasing personalities, and what happens when the news cycle is all noise and no signal]. Here's one thing I have to get out: it's time, for me, to make the conscious decision between using the social and digital web as a connection, not as a distraction.

Reading: Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women by Ricky Jay
Watching: Starship Troopers is on Netflix (holy shit)
Listening: Die Verboten '2007'
Bowie of the week: this haircut 
We cannot wait much longer,