Idle Observations For The Makers Of Tik-Tok About The State Of Media Tech

by Shelt Garner

With the return of yet another version of Gawker, I find myself wondering why media technology is so boring and uninnovative. At the moment, you have audio platforms like Spaces taking off (a little bit) and that’s about it. We’re no where near VR or AR taking off at the moment.

Blogs are dead in the water. Websites are dead in the water. Twitter is mature. Facebook is mature. And no sign of anything out there about to “disrupt” the way we consume media about to pop out any time soon.

Why this is the case could be a whole different blog post, but that’s not the point of this post.

If I had a spare $1 billion lying around, I would create a video platform that was loosely based on the old Usenet newsgroups service of 25 years ago. But it would have a paid editorial and post-production staff. So you would have professional video podcasting with a robust ability to comment and the ability to pump out spicy hot take clips from an hour-long video podcast.

The one company that’s in the best position to adopt these ideas is, of course, Tik-Tok. It would allow them to transition from a GenZ meme generator to something that could compete directly with Twitter (and to a certain extent, the podcasting aspect of Spotify.)

And, yet, lulz.

I think something pretty dramatic — like me winning the lottery — is the only way any of this will ever happen. The Internet space is not only mature, it’s dominated by a few very powerful companies who have a vested interest in keeping things exactly the way they are. Long gone are the “blue sky” days of the Web when you could think up a cool idea and change the world.

The investment dynamics, alone, probably prevent anyone from risking any size amount of money on doing something cool.

We’re stuck with the conditions of a mature Internet media market for the foreseeable future. Whenever VR and AR take off, then we’ll see a new, clean break from the past and cool stuff — mostly controlled by the usual suspects, natch — will happen.

The Thing I’ve Notice About New Yorkers

by Shelt Garner

I only rarely go to New York City. But every time I go, it is a real opportunity to recharge my creative batteries. Each time I go, however, I notice something about New Yorkers — they have very strong mental narratives about the city.

I say this because I’m something of a small town kook, or as the late Annie Shapiro would put it, I am a “delusional jerk with a good heart.” So, when I go to New York City and get drunk and talk to random people around me, once they get a sense of who I am, they dissociate.

The moment the get the sense that I have even the barest amount of kook in my personality, they not-so-subtly roll their eyes and start to do their taxes in the back of their mind. “Oh, so he’s one of THOSE guys,” they think.

I have to admit that I’ve learned a lot from this. Just going to NYC the few times I have has really toughed me up. I still long to live there one day. But, who knows. Wishes are like elbows and assholes.

The New Gawker Is Great, It’s Just Missing One Thing: ME

by Shelt Garner

The original Gawker got me through a very dark time in my life so I’ve always had a sentimental attachment to the site. The site has come back and it seems fine. I could see myself reading it on a regular basis. I struggle to see how they’re going to differentiate themselves from, say, New York Magazine though.

One way they could do that is to hire me!

I have a very old-Gawker sensibility. I like to look into weird concepts in weird ways for weird reasons. I did a great job with ROKon Magazine in Seoul for the the few months it existed in late 2006 to early 2007.

And I know the beat I could cover for them — the civil war or autocracy beat. Most of my writing on the subject to date has been rather vague for no other reason than I’ve just been letting off steam. But just the barest amount of money to write on the subject would cause me to throw myself into producing actual journalistic articles on the subject.

Julia Allison, the icon of the Old Gawker.

I would also love to get paid to do an actual investigation into my lingering fears that Tik-Tok is reading our minds. That would be a lot of fun to poke around in a silly, semi-serious manner.

One big concern I have is, are Websites moot? I know for me, at least, I get almost all news passively off of Twitter. That’s it — if there’s news, I get it form Twitter. For the New Gawker to work, it would really need to be bonkers and interesting — two things I definitely bring to the table. (Wink.)

Anyway, I wish them luck, no matter what. I have a novel or four to work on, so I’m not holding my breath that they’ll listen to — or care about — the voice mail I left them tonight about this very thing.

What I bring to the table.

America On The Brink: Our Dangerous Modern Political Dynamic

by Shelt Garner

The conditions exist for something dramatic to happen in the United States, all that is missing is some sort of catalyst. Autocracy is very popular with the MAGA New Right Republican base, to the point that if some unexpected event happens the country could face a serious secession crisis almost totally out of the blue.

When people on the right think of the term “liberal” as so loaded that they can’t bare to even say it in the context of “liberal democracy” — you got a problem. Also, when your standard bedrock conservatives — usually the foundation of any stable liberal democracy — are all-in with fascist talking points, you got a problem.

Most of the American Right is so consumed with “owning the libs” and negative polarization that their first reaction to the most egregious excesses of the fascist MAGA New Right is to say, “Sounds good to me.” We’ve reached a point where the country is so absolutely divided that should something put unexpected added pressure on our political system who the fuck knows what will happen.

In other words, the United States is a powder keg waiting for someone to drop a match.

Near term, there are two things I can think of that would be that match — Cyber Ninjas giving Trump the “win” in Arizona he craves. Meanwhile, if there was some sort of organized terrorist attack (by either side) that would also be enough to cause some sort of severe political crisis. I’m not prepared to say we’ll have some sort of good old boy MAGA New Right “revolution” that people keep searching for and ending up at this blog, but it’s possible some sort of secession crisis MIGHT Happen.

Longer term, I’m beginning to think that the country is so fucking fragile on a political basis that it could be the passions of the 2022 mid-terms that are enough to cause a secession crisis. Things really are that dire. But we’re definitely going to face a severe political crisis of some sort in late 2024 to early 2025.

The only we avoid it is if something REALLY FUCKING BIG happens between now and then. Otherwise, we’re fucked.

‘Is America Going To Have A Civil War?’

by Shelt Garner

Ok. Take a deep breath. If you’ve searched for this topic and found yourself here you’re in the right place. I’ve been writing on this topic extensively for months now. But here’s what I think is the answer to your question.

A Second American Civil War is actually one end of a spectrum of fates America faces between now and January 2025 — the other being a MAGA New Right autocracy. It’s possible you’re just so angry with “libtards” that you want a civil war RIGHT NOW. It’s possible — not probable — that you will get your wish sooner rather than later.

If it’s going to happen in months and not years, then either Cyber Ninjas “prove” Trump “won” in Arizona and that sets off a chain reaction that leads to a secession crisis, or things get really dark really quick and an important political figure decides to drop dead one way or another and THAT leads to a secession crisis that leads to a civil war. All the hope of some sort of populist MAGA New Right “revolution” RIGHT NOW seems a bit dubious.

You probably want a very simple answer to the real question, of: when do you get to murder people in cold blood for their political views?

I honestly don’t know, my deranged MAGA New Right reader. You’re going to need a catalyst. All the conditions are there, but for there to be a civil war in the United States, something’s gotta give.

I understand why you think that at any moment good old boys are going to murder liberals en mass, but I would be shocked if it happened anytime soon. You need organization and some sort of military for a modern civil war to take place.

So, you’re best best is probably late 2024- early 2025.

THEN you get your civil war (if you don’t get your MAGA New Right autocracy.)

As such, just cool it. We’re not going to have a civil war…just yet.

Tik-Tok & The Tale Of The Female Phenotypes

by Shelt Garner

I really don’t want to believe the technology exists to read our minds via our cellphones. That’s just a bridge too far for me at this point. I will admit that I vacillate conspicuously and wildly on this blog between suggesting that is possible and dismissing it.

But here’s the latest eerie example of SOMETHING going on.

I can think of two examples off the top of my head where Tik-Tok pushed me a video of a woman with a certain phenotype that is identical to the late Annie Shapiro. The women look so much like they could be her sisters.

This does not, in itself, prove anything. It could just be that relative to their “algorithms” people like me who watch the videos I watch like women who look exactly like a dead woman who changed my life while I was in Seoul. I mean, it’s not like they would have the means or interest to do that, right? That’s just crazy talk.

What Was The Republican & Trump Plan On January 6th?

by Shelt Garner

I’ve not done any additional research into this, but here is, off the top of my head an attempt to figure out what Trump and the Republican’s plot was around January 6th.

Apparently, there were A LOT of shady meetings leading up to January 6th between Republicans in the White House and Congress and people who were going to participate in the rally that turned into an insurrection.

It appears because Trump was demanding otherwise normal people act in dangerous and idiotic ways, that they had a general plan of attempting to intimidate Congress — or specifically Mike Pence — into doing something that they could not do: nullify the election and throw it into Congress.

A lot history is contextual. So, the next time this happens — which it will — any concerns that nullifying a Biden win would be a de facto coup will be just a speed bump. This, in turn, will probably break the country apart because Blue States will freak the fuck out and bounce. (Or we slip peacefully into autocracy — take your pick.)

This whole shitshow was done in an effort to placate a very old toddler. I doubt they had any specific plans — and if they did, oh boy — but rather than just had a vague notion of in the moment making it politically impossible for Congress to certify the vote. They were buying for time, in other words. Every moment Pence wasn’t put in a position to do his job was a moment they felt they might be able to get him to not do his job.

It’s also reasonable to assume that there were direct organizational and funding links between the people who came to DC for Trump’s speech that day and the White House and Republicans in Congress. Which, of course, is why Republicans are doing everything in their power to sabotage the investigation.

As it stands, both sides have gotten what they want — Democrats get a serious investigation and Republicans have huge cover to dismiss the whole thing as a “Pelosi’s partisan witch hunt.”

And, remember, autocracy is popular with the Republican base to the point that Republican leadership is pretty much just going through the motions of fucking with things out of an abstract fear that white suburban moms might be a bit more reluctant to vote for Republicans if the thing we all kind of know happened — that direct link I mentioned — is actually proven.

But for the base of the Republican Party, we’ve reach the point where everything is a luz but for one thing: destroying America’s 240 liberal democracy and replacing it with an autocracy.

The Audacity Of The Coming American Autocracy

by Shelt Garner

There is a lot going on in American politics that seems comical if you’re a Twitter liberal so wrapped up in closing on a Brooklyn walk-up that you don’t have time to take process what’s going on.

But it’s not comical if you realize this: the prospect of autocracy is popular within the MAGA New Right.

Once you establish that for a sizable portion of the electorate the center-Left’s nightmare is their dream then, well, a lot things that seem absurd and comical make a lot of sense.

The MAGA New Right Republicans have political bloodlust at this point. They want to destroy the America we assume we’ll always have and replace it with one of “blood and soil” where people like me get pushed out a window if we refuse to shut up about what a fucking cocksucker President Pompeo is. (This is just a running gag! No griping about me being obsessed with this prospect!)

As such, this is another metric to have rolling around in your head as we continue to march towards January 2025. The next presidential election cycle is shaping up to be the most significant since 1860. It would have been 2020 but for Trump being a lazy idiot and COVID19. Because of those two factors, we managed to punt the civil war or autocracy choice for America down the road four years.

That is, of course, unless Cyber Ninjas manage to start a civil war when they “prove” Trump “won” Arizona.

I guess it’s still possible that we’ll punt this particular problem down the road AGAIN. We did it in 2020, so it’s possible something I just can’t predict will so jiggle the general trends we face that my dystopian hellscape won’t happen. But it would have to be something big, big. Like China invading Taiwan or a regional war in Northeast Asia when the DPRK freaks out for some reason.

Otherwise, buckle up.

The Stage Is Set (For Autocracy Or Civil War)

by Shelt Garner

The stage is now set for a very dramatic existential choice of autocracy or civil war. The signs of this impending crisis are everywhere. One of the biggest of these signs is that the Republican Party is now a violent personality cult. As such, since it usually takes no more than 5% of a nation’s population to effect a revolution — we’re in a serious crisis going forward!

“Not great Bob,” as they say on Mad Men.

As I keep saying, if I was smart enough to give you some sort of simple explanation as to what to do to prepare for this existential choice I would be writing for VOX not a blog.

All I know is, at some point in the future, probably around January 2025, the United States is either going to become an old fashion autocracy or we’re going to have a very modern civil war.

That’s it. Those are are only choices.

Again — the Republican Party is now a radical, violent personality cult on a systemic level. So, either they get their way and turn us into a nation of “blood and soil” that is under the perpetual minority control of white Christians, or we have a civil war to sort things out, may best the ideology win.

I have no advice for you after painting this pretty dystopian future for us. Just keep your powder dry, I guess? Get a passport? Just don’t sleep how dangerous our future is. No longer will being a “fierce resister” on Twitter mean shit when ICE is knocking heads of anti-MAGA people in the real fucking world.

The only advice is do have is to enjoy these few remaining years of peace and quiet before the Fourth Turning blowing everything up in a ways not seen since WW2.

Good luck

The Implications Of The Impending End Of Roe

by Shelt Garner

The pendulum has finally swung all the way to its logical extreme when it comes to abortion rights — Roe V. Wade is probably going to be overthrown at some point in the next year or so.

I like to make myself feel better about this now near-certain blow to women’s rights by thinking that the end of the fail safe of Roe would be such a political thunderclap that there would be some serious consequences for Republicans who will be giddy over this event.

But it’s begun to sink in that this is very na├»ve.

What’s going to happen is there will, at first be serious political froth and rage on the part of a lot of motivated women. The whole thing could, in fact, begin a new Modern Women’s Movement.

And yet, our democracy is so barely functioning that what is more likely to happen is we’re going to go back to the bad old days where abortion is something that wealthy people have safe and ready access to. Everyone else is fucked.

What’s more, there will come a point where a number of Red States will get so wrapped up in their new ability to fuck women over that they will demand women be charged for miscarriages AND carry fetus to term even if it means their certain death.

And that’s it. That’s the way things will be for the next 50 odd years until the pendulum swings all the way back again. Instead of people on the Right ranting about how “every life is precious,” we’ll have people on the Left ranting about how many adult women are dying or otherwise having their lives ruined because they absolutely have to carry any fetus they have to term. A whole infrastructure will exist to help poor women in Red States get safe, legal abortions in Canada.

I say that last part because SCOTUS is cued up to totally reverse itself and do the exact inverse of Roe — abortions will be illegal on a national level, no matter what individual states may want.

The next thing that anti-abortion activists will set their sites on is any form of birth control, period. Nothing is off the table. It could get to the point that if a woman has sex, she has to risk getting pregnant no matter what. Their will be no legal method birth control, even for married people.

And because of our undead democracy, that’s it. That’s what we’ll be stuck with for decades and decades. All of this will happen in the context of us living under an autocratic white Christian enthostate, to boot!

Life for the wealthy will continue as it did before with ready access to important (illegal) birth control while poor women will die because MAGA New Right fuckers are cocksuckers.