The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet

“Imagine a dark forest at night. It’s deathly quiet. Nothing moves. Nothing stirs. This could lead one to assume that the forest is devoid of life. But of course, it’s not. The dark forest is full of life. It’s quiet because night is when the predators come out. To survive, the animals stay silent…

…In response to the ads, the tracking, the trolling, the hype, and other predatory behaviors, we’re retreating to our dark forests of the internet, and away from the mainstream…

…[Dark forests] are all spaces where depressurized conversation is possible because of their non-indexed, non-optimized, and non-gamified environments. The cultures of those spaces have more in common with the physical world than the internet.”

—Yancey Strickler, “The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet.” Medium.com. May 20, 2019.

One quibble with the thrust of this article is that you do not solve the problems of media by broadening engagement with it. Television is not improved by increasing its reach. Nor will the mainstream Internet by fixed by having more people engaged with it. Fragmentation allows people to vote with their feet, or attention, and eventually, trash will be left to the pig pen and the garbage bin. Trash is not turned into something else by enshrining it in pride of place on the mantle.

The Personal Isn’t For Mass Consumption

“Divorce is hard. Love is hard. All those things were so personal. They weren’t for mass consumption. The complexity of a life or a marriage is never going to exist in a headline or a tabloid.”

—Meg Ryan interviewed by David Marchese, “Meg Ryan on romantic comedies, celebrity and leaving it all behind: ‘The feeling with Hollywood was mutual.’The New York Times. February 15, 2019.

The parallels of social media making the problems of fame something everyone experiences now is an interesting connection Meg Ryan makes during the course of this interview.

Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction

“Loneliness is what the internet and social media claim to alleviate, though they often have the opposite effect. Communion can be hard to find, not because we aren’t occupying the same physical space but because we aren’t occupying the same mental plane: we don’t read the same news; we don’t even revel in the same memes. Our phones and computers deliver unto each of us a personalized—or rather, algorithm-realized—distillation of headlines, anecdotes, jokes, and photographs. Even the ads we scroll past are not the same as our neighbor’s: a pair of boots has followed me from site to site for weeks. We call this endless, immaterial material a feed, though there’s little sustenance to be found.”

—Mairead Small Staid, “Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction.” The Paris Review. February 8, 2019.

Alone in the Jungle

“Capitalism will deplete you, while letting you think you have the means to improve your lot. Indeed, it will attempt to force its therapy on you… Anxiety, and especially depression, as the late social critic Mark Fisher noted, often have social causes, but we are led to believe that we suffer individually and must struggle alone. Fisher’s point is that we are prevented from even considering such conditions as social. The treatments on offer, the most common ways to discuss recovery—therapy and pharmaceuticals—are essentially solo journeys that patients undertake. Against this hyper-individualist vision of psychic healing, we do well to highlight Fisher’s core insight that the tools we are given skew how we understand the world and our place in it. Language, typically the most essential method by which we articulate our affective life, can be a most insidious means of our own oppression if co-opted by those who would exploit us.”

—Miya Tokumitsu. “Tell Me It’s Going to be OK.” The Baffler. No. 41. October 2018.

The law of the jungle appeals most to people that don’t live in the jungle.

Hellofriend: Say Hello to Unforgettable Experiences!

“EARN MONEY BY HOSTING EXPERIENCES

List house parties, dinners, movie nights, or any other experiences on Hellofriend and earn Connect tokens (CTT) from attendees. Use CTT, which can easily be converted into other currencies like US Dollars, to cover hosting expenses.”

http://www.joinhellofriend.com/

Billed as a way to connect people offline, this strikes me as a social media variant looking for another way to commodify our relationships for profit.