Written by Abi C. KeaneI think the time has come to talk about one of the most absurd recently emerged internet phenomena: social media influencers. The question that puzzles me the most on this topic is why the !@*# can someone get away with making money for doing nothing? Before you chew me out, listen to what I have to say. I know that not all “influencers” are stupid or terrible people – that is not the issue. The issue is the concept of an influencer itself. How do you even define that? What is an influencer? When I try to answer that question on my own, I think “Well, it’s someone trying to influence you to do something, duh.” But what are these people trying to influence you to do? They post pictures of themselves doing cool activities, going to cool places, and wearing cool things. Though it may seem that they’re just rubbing their “better”, “richer” lives in your face, they’re actually doing so much more – they’re trying to sell you their life. The way I see it, that happens in several different ways. First, you need to convince others that you’re interesting enough for others to be interested in you. Once you accomplish that, you need to convince others that you’re important enough to keep paying attention to. So what is really happening here is the promotion of a certain lifestyle. However, that is by no means the end of it. The next step, the thing that really makes someone an “influencer” is making money. The ultimate purpose of being an influencer is to market the products of different companies through social media (and make money off it). If you ask me, that’s the epitome of consumerism. So once again, what is an influencer? So far, it seems all they influence one to do is buy new stuff. I’m going to take that a step forward and say: they influence us to perpetuate the overbearing presence of advertising and to distort our value system, with the latter being more of a side-effect, rather than a deliberate ploy. The first part of that assertion is quite intuitive – after all, it’s near impossible to avoid ads these days, whether it’s on billboards, TV, Spotify, Facebook, or Instagram. With that list being only the tip of the iceberg, it’s hard to understand why people would further cultivate this trend by supporting (following) these “influencers.” I think the reason lies in the second point I made: a distorted value system. Not only do these “influencers” appeal to the masses through their style and glamour, they entice impressionable young people with the possibility of leading such lives themselves. If other random, previously unknown individuals can gain popularity and wealth through the Internet, then why can’t I? In a sense, this is quite similar to the 7-year-old “I wanna be a Youtuber” phenomenon. This leads into a cycle whereby these pseudo-jobs are lauded over regular hard work. While it is true that not all individuals buy into this American Dream-esque fantasy, it is astonishing how many people support “influencers” and want to become “influencers” themselves. So to answer the original question of how these people get away with making so much money by doing nothing, I say: it’s their followers who are at fault. The sad truth is, as long as people blindly follow and worship “influencers,” without questioning what they stand for or acknowledging what their real purpose is, the field of influencer marketing will continue to grow. I guess what I really want is for people to start thinking more deeply about who or what they want to support. You need to decide for yourself whether you want to be one of the sheep who blindly buy into consumerism or one of the conscious individuals who refuses to fall into the new marketing trap.
TRANSFORMATIVE TECHNOCRATS – December 2018
Written By Phillip MorrisOnce upon a time, when I was young, I thought there was a benefit to getting licensed, but that was before I learned the job. I left my place in the ranks of officially sanctioned PIs before someone hired me to scour the galaxy for their missing dog. People looking to get into the game as a private investigator should know: there’s a barrier to entry. Those who came before take such pride in themselves that they’ve made it a guilded operation, with all the classes, tests, and the hefty price tag that entails. You’ll work really hard for that paper no client is going to ask you for. If you make it through all that, you’ll become a part of the de facto police force of interplanetary space. There are too many planets and factions for any one authority to claim jurisdiction over any significant region. P.I.s function as the initial point of entry for the legal system when laws get broken between worlds. If they can’t resolve the issue on their own, they at least give their clients grounds to initiate official government proceedings. Most of what gets brought to the guild are petty grievances. People claiming their rights are being impinged by a corporation on this planet, or ex-wives misusing alimony payments on that planet. Things get a lot more interesting off the books, and, with the right connections, a lot more lucrative too.
…“Drain your vital energies here,” said the latex wrapped doll as she slid her arm through mine. She whispered her name, Eve, as she led me to the entrance of the pleasure club called Heaven. From a distance, you might think she was a bot, but up close there’s no mistaking the scent of a beautiful woman. The neon lights made her hair sparkle and glow with synthetic magic. I had been through the district enough times in the month since I’d landed to see her hair go through a dozen different shades. It would be nice if something of me stuck in the girls’ heads, but the wipes were quite thorough. Eve had an expensive implant in the base of her skull that contained the street-walker persona. I glimpsed it once when another patron pulled her onto his lap by a lock of hair. Whoever she really was, was divorced from what you got at night. I found that the right line could earn me a parting gift from Eve once she realized I wasn’t going to be her John.
Maybe next time, was good for a peck on the cheek.
Catch me later, was better for a sneaky squeeze.
This time I tried honesty. “I’ll need my vital energies tonight.”
That got me nothing worth mentioning.
…My longest haul is coming to an end tonight. The girl with golden eyes was dead before I got here. I stopped using her name as soon as I found out. These tricks make the job a bit easier. I assume she couldn’t handle the treatment. Her once bright eyes had gone dark in the medical examiners photos. The implants could trick the mind into playing the part of a charming seductress while her body wasted away. The doll outside Heaven was a willing participant, but this girl was cut from finer cloth. Her daddy was a politician of the rarest breed. One of character. Sure he was rich, and the girl probably spoiled rotten if he was willing to splurge on those eyes, but he got his money without needing to bend the rules. If I had to guess, that’s what got his little girl into so much trouble. Don’t vote the way you’re told and the next time a family member visits unprotected space, poof! They’re gone. I couldn’t leave it at that and expect my efforts to be compensated. The two ways I’d get paid were reunion or revenge.
…Broken noses and busted lips have their place, and their limits. A smart person talks when the law wants answers. Of course, if these guys were smart they would have looked into who they were hired to kidnap and string up. It took two broken thugs to guide me to Heaven, and weeks of sweet talking a particularly deviant guest named Tikki before I was sponsored to go to the back. “Ey, Chuck,” Tikki called out as it wrapped its appendages around me.
…The back was actually the bottom. I was led through a secret room, then down, down, down. The floor in the basement of Heaven was covered with acres of fluorescent dirt that helped with the cleanup. Ancient orders of the flesh governed the pantheon of desire on display. Time and technology don’t destroy the animalistic urges each species is endowed with. Instead, they warp into forms unintended by nature. The lax laws of this planet let the imagination of the proprietor run wild. There was no way to tell from the grungy exterior what awaited those granted entrance below. Every body semi-adapted for sexual reproduction was on display, in innumerable configurations of contraptions and partners. I recognized now that the ventilation system must have been prime, to keep the intermingled musks from being overwhelming. Thankfully the boss was weak for his own product, and I saw him slip into a private room with a few of the guests. I assured my sponsor I’d be back after a quick look around and followed them. The boss’ expansive imagination never fathomed someone bringing him pain he didn’t ask for.
…I got out of Heaven as soon as I verified the record of the execution, for the officials and my payment. I would feel bad if Tikki ends up connected to what I’d done. It had some peculiar tastes but was a good being nonetheless.
Written by Sybrand Veeger and Jonas GuigonnatSybrand: There is something romantic about an etymological voyage, Something utopically revealing – The feeling is akin to tracing back your genealogical roots: Familiarizing yourself with familiarity, Fathoming alternative familiarities: Unearthing roots To imagine trees. Let me share a genealogical log with you: This time Heidegger was my guide, That German Virgil of meaning – We sailed down into the etymological piths of technology, That timeliest of concepts. Currently, he said while descending, Techno means something radically different from its Greek root: Techne signifies something other than Instrumental manipulation, The obsession with means, The encasing and concealment of nature. Techne, rather, is not opposed to nature – The craftsman, artisan, manufacturer, Akin to the poet and the painter, Brings forth a creation, And, like nature’s disclosure of light, The technecrat reveals, un-conceals. From this root, I imagine a tree, I utopize: What would a technecracy look like? Jonas: What would it be? A possibility A rhetoric answer to the didactic – What would hell look like? A travel through the world of words, Might not be worth the bet: Forgotten corners Of human abysses. It is now my turn to share something with you: This time is not different than any other, Chaos shall be our only friend – Time and words are no sea to be sailed on, For near those places there are no grounds to be found. Mistakingly, heading toward nowhere, Techno means the same as any other word: Techne suggests the dream of Human’s manipulation, The creation of means, The enchaining and impairment of nature. Techne, then, becoming an arm of nature – The charlatan, conman, mindreader, Attached to the same fear that drives the righteous one, Brings forth an illusion, And, similar to nature’s inexistent logic, The technecrat steals, Mis-reveals From this abyss, I shall see no tree, I temporize: What could a technocracy look like? Sybrand: Surely, from the hellish wells of history, From the depths of human chaos, At least one meaningful bucket can be drawn, To pour upon ourselves, To awaken us from present drowsiness? To quench our thirst for hope? Techne – that hellenic understanding of technology, Reinvigorates our relationship with Gaia: Re-embedded in the natural, Technological production Mutates into technelogical creation: Re-embedded in the natural, Productivity re-evolves into an essential craftsmanship, Re-embedded in the natural, Power as coercion becomes Power as potential: Common statecraft replaces Distant democratic delegation, Desperately in need of reinterpretation, Let’s unearth the roots of our technological foundation, To give birth to an earthlier sense of future procreation.
Art and Text by Marten Bart StorkHuman era. Human error. Human terror. Your mentor. You made more. And more. And more. End more. End less. Begin. Beginning. Begging. Beg for more. Back for more. And more. And more. Or less? More or less. Moralless. Immoral. Immortal. I’m more tall. Than you all. That makes me the king. Thank you all. For coming. Forthcoming. Come again. And again. And again. And a game. End this game. Computer game. Computer gain. Gain access. Assess. Assess the situation. The simulation. The stimulation. The transformation. The implication. Thin application. Expensive cream. Elaborate dream. Laboratory sceam. Mandatory scream. Screaming. Greeting. Greet things. Hi. Great things. Great things will happen. Just keep clapping. And smiling. And waving. At the machine. At the new thing. Trust the experts. Trust the technology. To benefit our society. Our democracy. Our destiny. Whatever that may be.
Written by Allen Caldeira
Failing that, the cows mated in pastures and the saints all dropped acid, screens shattered around them, falling plastic and glass darted through the square, twinkled around the edges and the martyrs fell in with the prostitutes at cyber cafes where internet trolls and media warriors lived vagabond at all times. The streets began to warp into the rice paddies they once were, the teenagers with igirlfriends and sloppy, sexless lives, dragged themselves into the fields and made new love to new dirt. The monks chanted sutras from the temples before Tokyo rose up from the swamp of its past, recapitulated itself into the drying eyes of the martyrs awaiting their executions for their telling of a future unstrained by the past. Tokyo, born again from the ashes of itself. Tokyo, born again from the ideas hefted onto it by Carthusians and Andalusians. Tokyo, born again from how some thought it should be. And now the internet cafes cool down, whores roll in from opium dens, fat half-chefs spin takoyaki in the streets, and the saints sit with their backs to the city, slopping up ramen in a business cafe.