Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand
There’s a YouTube channel I’ve gotten into the habit of plastering the background of my days with. I read an article about it a couple months ago: a live stream, lo-fi electronic music, animated loop of a girl writing notes with her cat beside her. There’s somewhere in the ballpark of 5,000 people tuned in at any given time. A chat runs on the side. People ask each other’s ages, nationalities. Because it’s the internet, people sometimes tear at each other for their ages, nationalities. Old men try talking to young girls. But mostly I don’t see that sort of stuff here. A second ago, someone posted: “Type ‘c’ in chat if you wish you were this girl’s cat.” Now the log is full of ‘c’s’.
ChilledCow is the channel, if anyone’s interested.
I grew up in the ’90’s. Like everyone else of the era, I got fed this line that the internet would be this grand replacement of our public spaces. The clued-in kids were living lives on message boards. Fresh out the cold war, you could have casual conversation with a Russian and feel like maybe we aren’t so different after all.
For the most part, it didn’t go that way.
There are all sorts of communities on the net but they’re far from open. Subreddits on subreddits, you can get a group of like-minded mouths to build your echo-chamber. Step outside those boxes into something more public? Everything’s an ad or an assault. Meanwhile, brick and mortar America is dismantled, and the public spaces – the parks, the malls, the old downtowns – are stripped for expensive condos or parking decks.
I’m a part of this, or course. I go from work to home and back again. I don’t often have the thick skin for getting lost in the desolate unknown. But I wonder how we’ll know each other in fifty years? Gummy lips gone to atrophy.
So anyway, that’s why I think tiny public places like ChilledCow’s channel are precious.
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“Places matter. Their rules, their scale, their design include or exclude civil society, pedestrianism, equality, diversity (economic and otherwise), understanding of where water comes from and garbage goes, consumption or conservation. They map our lives.” – Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics