So Very Strange

by Shelt Garner

A few days ago, I thought really hard about the time many moons ago when I slept overnight at a hostel. Well, would you believe that I got pushed a Tik-Tok just now about that VERY SAME THING — someone worried about sleeping at a hostel.

Because that was the memory I thought about — how unhappy I was as an Old sleeping at a hostel. And there it was, a video of a young woman looking very concerned about the risks associated with sleeping at a hostel.

I know — know — it’s not possible that Tik-Tok is actively rooting around in my mind.

But…it is very eerie. I didn’t tell anyone about this memory. I didn’t tweet or blog about it. Only *I* specifically knew that I was even aware of such a situation in the first place.

Tik-Tok Can Be A Real Sewer Of Disinformation

by Shelt Garner

I don’t know about you, but as an Old, I get pushed a lot of Tik-Toks that are a lot more serious than the usual hot chicks bounce around, dancing. Some of the Tik-Toks I get are just various forms of blatent disinformation.

It’s all very grating for various reasons because a lot of (younger) people don’t realize what they’re seeing is, essentially, a lie. And, wait, it gets worse — the Chinese government is deeply mixed up in Tik-Tok so they have a vested interest in pushing as much disinformation as possible to unsuspecting young Americans.

So, in a sense, I hope Tik-Tok does get banned. I’m really growing quite annoyed at how much conspicuous disinformation the service pushes me on a regular basis. What’s worse, I still struggle to understand the “spookier” elements of the service’s ability to push me things that definitely seem like it can read my mind — but it can’t read my mind, right, right? RIGHT?

Anyway. Whatever. No one ever listens to me. Maybe one day, but not at the moment and not for the foreseeable future.

Is Tik-Tok At It Again?

by Shelt Garner

I don’t know what to tell you, folks, but Tik-Tok is up to its old “digital telepathy” tricks again. The first instance is not so obvious, while the second is really, really spooky.

Ok. So, the first instance of Tik-Tok getting way, way too close to comfort, as if it’s rooting around in my mind is I got pushed a video of someone pretending to be concerned about turbulence during a flight. This is something I think about a lot — that if I ever make it big and get to become a smug “bi-costal” liberal that when I suddenly find myself flying all the time that I’m going to have a lot of angst over turbulence.

The second instance is really, really, really spooky.

For a long-term scenario I’ve been toying with, I’ve been thinking really hard about the capital of Australia. I thought it was Sydney until I realized today it is actually Canberra. Just a moment ago, I was pushed a video of someone noting this very thing.

That’s just wild.

But, correlation is not causation, so lulz?

Does Tik-Tok Have a Prostitution Problem?

by Shelt Garner

I think of sex work the same way I do pot — I think it should be legalized, regulated and taxed. And, yet, I know OTHER people think about sex work and…oh boy…I think Tik-Tok has a prostitution problem on its hands. I am getting a growing amount of conspicuous videos from call girls who provide their “clients” the “girlfriend experience.”

Shit like that is only going to add to the growing chorus of people in the government who want to ban the service altogether for various national security reasons.

I continue to find Tik-Tok very addictive. I love it and I feel a bit sheepish how many videos of hot chicks doing hot chick shit I get pushed. I’m flooded with videos full of T&A and am very pleased that I do. I may be old, but I’m not dead.

Anyway, having said all that, I do agree that the service is too close to the CCP and should either be banned or sold to a Western company. The fact that Tik-Tok not only has a back door for the CCP but also has been known to track specific journalists in the West is just too much. But our politics are so broken — and Tik-Tok is so popular that it’s either going to be years before we address the situation or ultimately nothing happens.

Ok, You Have Me Figured Out, Tik-Tok…But How?

by Shelt Garner

I continue to be amazed by Tik-Tok’s ability to figure me out to a very, very specific degree. I’ve written about this phenomena repeatedly — even going so far as to suggest Tik-Tok can read my mind in some way — but let’s talk about the latest version of this, which I think might be explainable without any strange, kooky ideas.

Jane Birkin

A long time ago, I had brief, intense celebrity crush on fashion It Girl, Alexa Chung. Now, what’s so weird about this is for some time I’ve been pushed videos of Jane Birkin (who Ms. Chung looks up to a lot) as well as her daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg.

I find all of this kind of weird. I find it weird because I started getting pushed videos about Birkin and Gainsbourg pretty much out of the blue. But I will admit that once I was pushed the videos that I lingered on them and liked them, which could explain why I also got videos of Chung pushed my way as well. Maybe? Anything to explain what’s going on rather than to suggest digital telepathy. What about what I was looking and liking on Tik-Tok could possibly have narrowed down what the service knows about me down to my interest in Chung and, by extension, Birkin and Gainsbourg?

It’s all very strange. Spooky even.

I don’t think Tik-Tok can read our minds — even though it definitely seems like it at times, but….the mystery of algorithms remains very eerie.

What If I’m Right & Big Tech Can Read Our Minds?

by Shelt Garner

I don’t really believe Big Tech can read our minds. I just don’t have any cold, hard evidence I can point to and have someone who is “normal” believe me. The idea that the technology exists — but is somehow being hidden — for technology companies to peer into our minds is just too fantastical for anyone with a “normal” life to take seriously.

So, I’m just daydreaming about this. I like to run scenarios and so I’m just thinking out loud. I’ve done this before, I think, but I feel like doing it again just for fun and to get it out of my system.

The key thing would be who knows that this technology not only exists but is being used in a practical manner for commercial reasons? A subsequent question would be, of course, if Big Tech is monitoring our minds, then what can the NSA? The NSA is often times a few years more advanced in such technology because there is a practical intelligence use for it.

In fact, one reason why I have my doubts about Big Tech being able to read our minds is it would be such a huge, powerful secret. It just doesn’t seem like the type of thing that could be kept a secret. Of course, if you limit your concerns on this issue to just Tik-Tok being able to read your mind, then the possibility such a secret could be kept grows significantly.

What is interesting — an a little disappointing — to me is if Big Tech eased us into the idea that Digital Telepathy existed, then we could get cool shit like $1,200 “mindcaps” that would replace an array of existing media devices. We could, maybe, “watch” TV and movies using our own minds. We could send “mind mail” to each other. Record dreams. All sorts of interesting commercial applications — and abuses — come to mind. Strange Days and Dreamscape are two movies that come to mind that play with such technology and its practical, real world applications.

I suppose the fear — if such technology exists — is that people will freak out and want to storm Silicon Valley so they can burn it to the ground. The idea of “mind rape” being used in regards to Digital Telepathy definitely does enter your mind when thinking about such things.

Anyway, I have no proof. Just a mild unease. Whatever Tik-Tok is doing — if it’s doing anything — seems to be most potent when it comes to things associated with the body. When Tik-Tok pushes you a video that seems to make reference to things about your own fucking body that only you know….that’s enough to weird you out.

And it’s not like when Target started sending pregnancy related stuff to a house of a teenage girl who hadn’t told her folks yet. I’m limiting my concern to only those specific instances when Tik-Tok pushes me a video for something that is very similar to something I’ve thought about really hard and there is absolutely no one or no thing that knows about it besides me.

The issue for me is — either way, there needs to be some regulation. If Digital Telepathy exists, we need regulations and if it’s just an instance of alographtms being really, really good…we need regulations.

Tik-Tok May Have Done It AGAIN

by Shelt Garner

This particular instance of suspected “mind reading” on Tik-Tok’s part is very dubious because there really are plenty of other potential explanations for this particular “spooky” incident.

But here’s what’s going on.

I have a VERY active imagination and a lot of mental energy to spare and so, as such, even though I’m constantly thinking about how to develop the universe associated with a six novel project, I also am aggressively world building a scifi concept as well.

As part of this, the last few days I’ve really been obsessing about the state I live — Virginia. The concept “Virginia” has been at the forefront of my internal monologue in a really intense way for some time now. Well, would you believe, today I got pushed a video on Tik-Tok about the name “Virginia” and how funny it is that that’s it’s inspired by the belief that Elizabeth I was the “Virgin Queen.”

This incident of suspected “mind reading” isn’t as clear as some because I do live in Virginia and I’m sure that there’s a solid case to be made for the Tik-Tok algorithms picking up on where I’m from and simply pushing a video about my state’s name.

No magical mystery powers of mind reading needed.

But it is interesting.

Tik-Tok Has The Makings Of An Amazing Dating App

by Shelt Garner

It just occurred to me that the basic premise of Tik-Tok could easily be adapted to a powerful dating service. Tik-Tok knows me so well that it already pushes me women that I find oddly very specific to my personal tastes. It has me figured out so well that it knows the phenotype and personality type of women I’m interested in.

All they would have to do is use whatever algorithms they already have and tell people it’s just like Tik-Tok, but for singles. You would see content on a For You Page just like with normal Tik-Tok and gradually the service would figure you out and begin to push you “singles in your area” who were doing videos just like you.

There are some obvious obstacles to overcome. One is, whenever the potential for sex is involved, people — especially men — act pretty fucked up. So you would have to establish some pretty strict ground rules for what could be in your videos. Nothing in frame could tip people off as to where you lived specifically and that kind of stuff.

But the premise — using Tik-Tok algorithms as part of a dating service — would make a lot of sense. I, personally, have already seen several women pushed to me on Tik-Tok that I probably would fall in love with if I ever had the chance to meet them in person. They all live in New York City, of course, so lulz.

Is Big Tech Reading Consumers’ Minds Using Digital Telepathy?

by Shelt Garner

The short answer is, of course, no, of course not. This is a demonstrably silly idea and I am a fool — and maybe a bit of a kook — to even bring the subject up. And, generally, I just don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I’m of the opinion that the vast majority of actual conspiracies are well known and the public generally doesn’t care.

Ok. Having said that, let’s yet again ponder a scenario whereby Big Tech, and specifically Tik-Tok, is in some way able to not only monitor what’s rolling around in our minds but use that information to push content to us in an eerily specific way.

Up until a while ago, Facebook — now Meta — was, in fact, looking into how they could read people’s minds to the point that they even patented a way to do it. They have since scrapped this research and so, lulz, obviously they aren’t using any such technology to read people’s minds, right?

So that should be that. Big Tech isn’t reading our minds and if they were, we would obviously know about it because it would be such a huge milestone in technology. The ethical implications of reading people’s minds without their consent would be just too big for Big Tech to overcome and so why are we even talking about this?

One thing I will note is how beneficial it would be for, say, the NSA or CIA to be able to monitor the minds of diplomats and other major officials in foreign countries. And, in general, some of the most cutting edge technology used in a practical way is developed not by private industry, but by government agencies like DARPA — which came up with the Internet.

This brings us to Tik-Tok

Tik-Tok is a Chinese company and there is little or no separation between Chinese tech companies like Tik-Tok and the security agencies of the CCP. So, if you were of a conspiratorial bent, you could definitely find yourself pondering the possibility that Tik-Tok is using digital telepathy is not only read the minds of America’s youth, but use that information to push them ever-more addictive content to keep them using what is now one of the most popular social media platforms on earth.

This is the point where you laugh at me and say all of this is just crazy talk. And, honestly, whenever I find myself talking to a tech person I go out of my way to try to get them to dissuade me of my paranoia. I explain to them what’s happening and I ask them to explain to me why I’m wrong. The most common explanation they give me is it’s all a coincidence and Tik-Tok’s algorithms simply now me so well that it just seems like it can read my mind.

This is similar to how there is the horror story of a young woman being sent pregnancy related coupons in the mail because of what she was looking for on a big box retailer’s website. Ok, I get it that makes a lot of sense and explains most — but not all — of what I’m noticing.

As an aside, I’ve started to try to keep these suspicions to myself — especially at bars — because, well, people think I’m completely insane and don’t want to talk to me anymore when I causally broach the subject. Which, all things considered, is probably understandable.

The only reason I keep thinking about the bizarre conspiracy theory is the fact that some of the video’s that Tik-Tok pushes me aren’t nearly as general as what happened with the pregnant teen and the coupons. I still struggle to understand how Tik-Tok’s algorithms can be so good as to narrow down a very specific thing I thought about intensely in passing.

Usually these spooky events have something to do with my body, something I haven’t told anyone about. And sometimes, it’s something I just think about really hard for a moment or two out of the blue. It’s those specific type of incidents that give me pause for thought when I get pushed a video on Tik-Tok that is about that very specific thing.

But I have no proof and probably never will. And even if it was happening, it is the CCP we’re talking about, so it’s not like we’ll ever find out. Though if Big Tech in the United States was also reading our minds, then, I suppose the secret might pop out eventually.

Which leads you to wonder what the reaction would be. I’m of the opinion that after the shock wore off, there would either be a huge outcry where the population demanded some sort of regulation crackdown of Big Tech — or nothing would happen.

It would just be another thing that we all knew about, but didn’t care because, in general we got better products and services because of it. Though, of course, if it was proven that Tik-Tok — and by extension the CCP — was reading the minds of America’s youth….I suppose that might be considered something akin to an act of war?

Relations between the US and China would definitely suffer.

Anyway, this is all nuts. There’s no way Big Tech can read our minds. I’m just noticing really good algorithms.

Women Dominate Tik-Tok

by Shelt Garner

I used to be active in a four way video conferencing service called Blab that no longer exists. It was a vanity project by some wealthy plutocrat and, as such, the plug was pulled on it soon enough. The interesting thing about Blab was because it was live video, a lot of people — especially women — simply did not want to use the video aspect of it. They were worried about their appearance, shy and so forth.

So, it’s striking how women totally dominate Tik-Tok. And sometimes they’re pretty raunchy in a feminine sort of way, which is rather amusing to me. Why, then, were women reluctant to use Blab’s video feature and yet women love, love, love Tik-Tok?

I think some of it comes from the controlled nature of Tik-Tok. It’s usually not live, so they can make sure they feel comfortable before they make a video. But once they feel ok, then they are able to lean into the native popularity of, well, hot chicks on video. And given how popular Tik-Tok is and how you can really blow up, getting views in the millions, there is a lot of inducement for women to let their hair down and be a bit more edgy than they might otherwise be.

In it’s own way, Tik-Tok is a “safe space” for women to talk about the female experience in ways they haven’t before so publicly. There are lots of videos about sex from a female point of view, periods, and various other things that generally men don’t see in other media. Of course, I don’t know how much of this is Tik-Tok thinks I’m a woman and how much is what is really going on with the service.

Anyway, Keep at it ladies. I find your content very entertaining and sometimes informative. The more dudes are forced to be empathetic to women, the better.