Coffee Log, Day 317

Hi.

Coffee Tea: Earl Grey, Bigelow Brand; I woke up feeling somewhat energetic; ‘somewhat’ is a lot more energy than I typically have; I didn’t want to dilute that with too much caffeine, so I stuck with tea; it tastes like an idle afternoon.

Modern media is a weird thing. It’s produced in such great quantities that you could spend all day, every day consuming it. And to be a part of any kind of zeitgeist, you pretty much have to do just that. Water cooler conversations are less about sports and more about your latest Netflix binge.

For about six years I’ve subscribed to the website ‘GiantBomb.com.’ It’s nominally a video-gaming site, but the best way to think of it would be a games-related Mystery Science Theater 3000. There’s a team of about ten editor/producers who record and appear in the videos to talk over and joke about this or that game. There’s podcasts, series, and something new everyday.

As someone who has trouble sleeping, one thing I’ve found marginally helpful is to listen to podcasts as I’m going to bed. Half-focusing on a conversation tricks my brain into shutting off. I’m not too picky about the podcast, but most nights it ends up being something off of GiantBomb – I subscribe to them anyway, it’s easy, thoughtless to press play.

Because of this, I recognize those same 10 editor/producer’s voices as well as I recognize my best friends’. They’re with me most days. They follow me to sleep. I think that’s incredibly bizarre. I’ve never met these people – I never will meet them – and yet they’re a daily part of my life.

There almost seems to be a cultural aversion to in-person interaction in 2019. We seem to understand each other best with a computer screen between us. And in a small way I’m a part of that, and so are you – you probably only know me through this blog, and if you wanted to, you could connect with me here every day.

I can’t decide how I feel about all this. In some ways it’s comforting – a quilt blanket to drape over yourself when you need it, all the comfort of a person without their complications. In others, though, I worry that I’m losing something fundamental and replacing it – however unintentionally – with air. You stop drinking water when the soda fountain’s installed.

Novel Count: 10,989

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Just move to the Internet, its great here. We get to live inside where the weather is always awesome.

John Green

Coffee Log, Day 255

Hi.

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.

Novel Count: 4,096 words

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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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

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