Somewhere in Arizona, 2012

Ohio. The sun went down at 6:46pm, the moon is waning, and a cold front has arrived. I need to support my writing and teaching habits, so I logged into LinkedIn last week to hunt for some design work. Depression hit me in seconds, followed by an urge to tear apart the sky. Instructions to “Measure the Weight of Your Social Media Voice” and “Forge Emotional Bonds with Your User Base” commingled with homilies about resilience, creativity, and being authentic. Hundreds of grinning avatars were psyched, chuffed, delighted, elated, blessed, and thrilled about social media strategy and UX design. Somehow we’ve moved from doing a job to advertising it as a state of ecstasy. I ran from my screen like someone in a zombie movie.

Over in Velcro City, Paul Raven shared his experience with opening LinkedIn for the first time in ages, and I found it tremendously reassuring. He nails the weirdly homogenous atmosphere of “performativity and personal-brand backslapping, a river of abstract aspiration laced with brow-furrowed bits about mental health and the risks of over-obsessing about what one does, all written in a style whose careful optimisation to the platform’s affordances suggests people doing the exact opposite of what they’re saying, quite possibly without even realising it.”

Our networks are transforming us into such peculiar creatures. Meanwhile, people are scaling buildings in France and turning off the lights, hoping to stave off an energy crisis. It’s happening more frequently now, the gut-punch realization that I’m living in the future that so many books and movies warned me about.

Public Image Ltd – Careering

Metal Box | Virgin, 1979 | Reviewed by Simon Reynolds
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