Screens burn holes through our brains and shrivel our genitals.

Two things we will make you; smooth between the legs, smooth between the ears. And what we take from you, will feed the kings of this earth.Painted masks are on all sides. Sad face, surprised face, crying-laughing face, smirking-demon face -- but the eyes are black beads, and lifeless.

Online discourse is obsessed with emotion and subjectivity, the tiny precise gradients of affect. Endless essays on anger (ours: valid, justified, full of moral urgency) (theirs: invalid, brutal, festering with hatred), shock, outrage, upset, trauma, and hurt. It's a very impressive show, but it's a distraction, a piece of performance art. The real function is to frantically cover up the fact that most of the time, most of us feel nothing at all. Screens burn holes through our brains and shrivel our genitals. You sit alone in a room. You look for things to upset you.

The person who types "lol" is never actually laughing; the person who types I'M SCREAMING is silently dabbing at a screen. In the same way, the person who is perpetually shocked and outraged and brimming with righteous fury is almost always lying to themselves. They're as affectless as the rest of us: play-acting, downloading synthetic emotions, and then passing them on.

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4 Responses:

  1. Not Frank says:

    I think that hypocrisy is a fundamental aspect of the human condition, and, possibly moreso than the Turing test, we will only know we have generated artificial intelligence when it gives us true hypocrisy in its output.

    • k3ninho says:

      That's a rich concept with at least these three things: (1) authority, (2) action and (3) moral direction in opposition to the action. "Do (1 via imperative verb use) as I say(3) and not as I do(2)."

      You might argue that YouTube, Twitter and Facebook's recommendation algortithms are already there for their place in the news cycle amplifying present hypocrisy or for bolstering/setting up example behaviour for us to imitate of the hypocrites of our times or for taking advertising dollar while not actually connecting buyers and sellers (though amplifying influencers is exaclty what they do).

      I think the resistance will be sending brave heroes back in time to prevent the murder of historical figures by the machines before we notice that they've had power and been lying about the use of that power.

      K3n.

  2. dcapacitor says:

    Fascinating. I should read Sartre, his café waiter example was very good...

    Though it would've taken away from the ideas in the article, I think it's worth pointing out here 2 more reasons that drive online outrage: 1) someone is profiting from it 2) the average person is not a writer.

    1) doesn't have to be a global conspiracy. Ordinary people online accumulating digital brownie points for righteousness is obvious, but what should be even more obvious is that outrage is one of the largest drivers of online traffic. If online outrage was punishing companies financially it would get nowhere near the level it is right now. Not only does it generate revenue, it also fuels some of the internal politics inside the online giants.

    2) is more mundane, doesn't have the same conspiratorial flavor as 1). Most people don't have the skill to express nuanced emotions or concepts in writing. You good, I'm happy, you bad, I'm sad - even a child can write that. I love brand X, I'm a fan of show Y, I support politician Z are also not that difficult. That slight tinge you feel when you visit your old neighborhood in just the right weather - not so much. Politely expressing disagreement to someone you don't know in less than 280 characters poking at a touch screen while standing in a crowded subway car on your morning commute probably requires an English degree and advanced Zen mastery.

  3. Jim says:

    Jamie I thought of e-paper on the outside of a mask. Should I try to find a patron to donate a patent to the ACLU?

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