Been wondering a bit this week about how everything that exists today seems to exist solely to demand maximum attention from you.
At the start of MIRROR’S EDGE CATALYST, a game whose story was overall a disappointing reboot of the MIRROR’S EDGE game, there’s a nonetheless incisive bit of satire where Faith, the player character, puts on a kind of smart contact lens thing and immediately finds her vision clouded by a cacophony of noise: a news ticker at the top, stock quotes, low-fund warnings, error messages about being unable to connect or log in… the list goes on. This feels like the way almost everything works. Old-style popup adverts may be largely dead, but they’ve been replaced by interstitials, cookie warnings, ‘discovery’ for features you don’t want to know about, and automatically-enrolled newsletters for pretty much everything.
I’ve been trying to spend less time on Twitter lately (the cocktail of amateur OSINT, clout-fishing, and tasteless doomer shitposts around the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was not helpful for my mental health) but I’m finding that when I do go on there, I now find myself seeing echoes of things that have happened without having been fully exposed to them. I remember the furore around Racist Tram Lady and the woman who threw a cat into a wheelie bin, but I was barely aware of what a certain book reviewer revealed to be working at a weapons manufacturer had done to make themselves so infamous, nor the Depp v. Heard libel case (which, by the way, was disgusting—particularly given the jury were not isolated from the constant barrage of memes and clout-farming content.) I remember the Masterchef Buttery Biscuit Base song (but my partner apparently didn’t) and yet watching this video about a failed film project about internet memes, I realised how few of them I even remember. Double Rainbow? Never heard of him.
The constant firehose of memes and platforms’ leveraging of FOMO has tired me. Twitter is insistent that I’m going to be interested in some random tweet every few days: I disagree. I now hit Unsubscribe the moment I receive an unsolicited email newsletter from a website I just joined to download some ticket somewhere or buy one specific thing. I am ruthless with my iPhone notifications because I know where to find the ‘turn off’ button. But I wonder how those who don’t know how to turn off these notifications experience the world.
Anyway, I visited an exhibition for a friend’s birthday on Friday, and the ticketing was via a website called “Fever,” who (1) insisted I create an account, (2) insisted I download their app, (3) made me click past 3-4 pages of onboarding before I could actually use their app, (4) sent me an unsolicited marketing email “welcoming me to their community,” (5) sent me a push notification at 20 past midnight on a Monday morning with a 20%-off coupon surrounded by 🤑 money-mouth face 🤑 emojis. The app is terrible and I won’t be using it again.
The exhibition was the Jurassic World experience at ExCeL. I was admittedly not in the target audience (and I’m sure it would’ve been immense if you were the young lad there who had a Jurassic Park t-shirt, Jurassic World bag, and all manner of other dinosaur-themed accoutrements.) What I will say is that whatever the organisers are paying the actors and puppeteers from the £28 ticket price, it’s not enough.