Ohio, 2022

Ohio. Went for an ugly run in a ten-degree wind chill. I cursed loudly, frightened passersby, and my skin was angry and red beneath my wooly sweater. Ten degrees might be my threshold unless I invest in a special outfit.

Meanwhile, a childlike billionaire is grinding Twitter into the dirt. Whether this is intentional remains unclear, but I think he’s on the right track. Grind it to dust and salt the earth. I loved Twitter back when it didn’t matter, circa 2008-2015. Its pointlessness was the point: an ambient network of people eating breakfast, talking junk, and finding delight in the mundane. Then some nitwit slapped a scoreboard on it and transformed us into cult leaders with followers (rather than readers) who chased the virtual currency of hearts. We convinced ourselves our tweets were important, newsworthy, career-making, or, god forbid, agents for social change, and it made us crazy. Myself included. I tapped out six months ago when I finally admitted I was writing and thinking in a way I did not enjoy. (My station is now a rickety automated feed for this blog; for some sentimental reason, I can’t bring myself to delete my account.)

An advertising platform that teems with voices stripped of context and complexity will never improve the fabric of public life. But as they say in recovery, the persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Addiction feels like the right metaphor: on a social level, we know the outrage mechanics of Twitter aren’t good for us, and yet . . . so here’s some wishful thinking: I hope the childlike billionaire shuts the whole thing down and announces this was his plan all along. He would save face, and history will judge him kindly as the man who removed the poison from the well.

Went to the cinema and saw The Menu, another entry in the burgeoning eat-the-rich genre (Triangle of Sadness, Parasite, Ready or Not, Knives Out, The Hunt, etc) that works as an exercise in capitalist-angst-ventilation rather than imagining alternatives. The first half was a near-perfect escalation that flirts with the surreal; the last act needed a point of view. But it was worth the price of a matinee ticket for the taco night scene, and I’m a sucker for people behaving poorly in glossy architecture on a remote island, e.g., Ex Machina.

Tonight C. reminded me today would have been my mom’s birthday, thanks to an automated reminder in her calendar that she never deleted. Strange, these new digital ghosts.

I’m no longer hyper-attuned to the dates of my parents’ births and deaths. Part of me feels negligent; the other part thinks this is progress: I can carry them with me without fixating on beginnings and endings. My mom would have turned seventy today. And now that I remember, I’m unsure how to observe the date except to say a prayer and be grateful she was my mom.

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Andrea
Andrea
10 days ago

I am grateful to get to read you, James!

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