Listens: E-Mail My Heart by Britney Spears
How I Got Here
Last year I read Jenny Odell's "How to Do Nothing". (It is so good.) She analyzes the "attention economy," or the idea that everything on the internet is competing for your attention ($$$) and has to resort to wilder and wilder hijinks/ methods/ algorithms to keep you hooked.
This book appealed to me because less and less I've been able to use social media for actually staying connected with friends, and more and more its dividing my attention, interests, politics. Once I had learned what context collapse was (from Odell's book), I could see it all around me when all I really wanted to see was dog & baby pictures and my long-distance friends life updates and memes.
As of late, I could actually step outside myself and feel myself being manipulated. I'm a fragile precious angel baby as it is, I don't necessarily need to keep that extra chaos in my life. One of the solution-like ideas Jenny Odell proposes is smaller, community-minded networks (which I guess is what Discord is doing?) that don't rely on corporations and ad revenue, but rather a group of people who all want to be there and use the "space" how they see fit.
Us 90s kids had the luxury of what felt like a more open internet. It got me thinking about why I originally used internet and what I detest about it now. One of the things I loved were chat rooms, role playing Buffy the Vampire Slayer and personal blog spaces like FreeOpenDiary and LiveJournal, where I published probably thousands of blogs and journals that are all completely deleted now because my teenage self was a smart cookie. You wanna talk about cancel culture henny? I canceled myself a long time ago.
A Livejournal (with my first-ever AOL screen name no less) feels appropriately nostalgic, easy for my old ass to use, and obscure enough that my students please dear god won't find me here.
To conclude this book report, I guess what I really learned was How to Do One Thing: slow down the endless feed scrolling in my head and try an old, familiar way of connecting. We'll see how that goes in 2021!