Those who stand for nothing will go along with anything for fear of causing offense. Cowardice, by default, does exactly that. And so do politically correct weather vanes who hop onto whatever is trending, which, regrettably, happens to be showmanship, the spectacle of humanness declined in endless hues of complementary colors that span a visible light spectrum that only seems to go from orange to blue.
There is no nuance, only shade.
But it is also fair game as long as it keeps paying. Things no longer have to be real to exist, everything is a sleight of hand, a plot twist, theater where hearts and minds can be traded on this bizarro collective exchange of assorted hallucinations that is the digital human marketplace of us.
In search of creativity through words that don’t edge and might, therefore, suggest various experiments to solve current issues, the mind meanders and surrenders to either curiosity or depression, depending on the day.
The confluence of analog and digital whereby both dimensions expand rather than shrink is, it seems, something that still behaves and still sounds like Donald Trump. Everyone is ex- this or that, anti-something or other, and pro things they got the definition and purpose of wrong. To wit, life and guns.
Words mean so little we are no longer able to agree on how decency presents or behaves, and much less define something that sounds so aberrantly out of sync with the reality we live in. Is decency a malady? Can you catch it by voting? It’s not who you vote for, it’s how you communicate and behave. Profiteers who sound like Trump but vote for Biden actively contribute to the edification of the zeitgeist.
But if all you stand for is yourself then, at some point, you will be left alone.
Whether we choose to withhold judgment or shirk accountability, both are coming for us starting Nov 3 anyway, rest of the world included. The most powerful country on Earth is either being optimized or malfunctioning and the suspense is literally killing people. Internet content, meanwhile, remains about edging one’s bets about what we really need to emote about in a time of great political, financial, and societal uncertainty.
That ‘what’ can’t be fear else anger and greed will prevail.
If we don’t find the courage to push back now, it might be too late. Our ability to experience empathy binding us to others based on a shared desire for greater ease will not come back from this. Empathy is, oddly, something Trump is great at tapping into. Based on his ability to endure ridicule, adversity, and disdain, he commands empathy because he stands his ground and doesn’t deviate from the American Dream.
Only it’s exclusively his, he isn’t sharing, and no, that one-off stimulus check didn’t come out of his pocket. Even though he signed it, he was only trying to buy your vote with your money so you could gloat about how you didn’t need it so you were giving it away with much social media fanfare.
We are everything that is wrong with us, we are the life hacks we never knew we needed and there are plenty more where those came from if you join my exclusive fan base where I bless your checking account with a monthly direct debit, anointing you with the power of pre-recorded access. The “I” becomes a “we” because me and myself joined the board of honest wannapreneurship MV Bullshit. And don’t forget to quote yourself on Instagram you cheerless, humorless clickbait carbuncle of fakehood disguised as saintly hipsterhood, sexing up vulnerability and insipid inspiration.
You too — fan, follower, hate reader — can unveil the divine blessings within for three three-figure installments and bonus content worth so much money digital good samaritans are literally giving away knowledge for free while you bless them with rent, bills, and enough cash to hire nameless keyboard monkeys in places the average American cannot locate on a map to produce your content for you.
Success is getting others to do your dirty work for you.
Greed is too bloated to stand for anything, it lives off takeouts of mail order life delivered around the clock via the nearest connected device rather than the nearest connected — i.e. someone who knew a lot of other someones personally and in the flesh — person. What’s authenticity, what’s marketing? Who cares as long as eyeballs attach themselves to the screen like suckers.
Trump is good for business; success is only a Napoleon Hill quote away.
For everything else, there’s Mr Rogers.
Not comfortable with that either? Hopefully you’re comfortable being left behind on the dock as the clickbait crusade for profit sets sail, a cacophony of seagulls in its wake. But the trash birds aren’t dumb, they’ll turn around the minute MV Bullshit loses sight of the coast. They know where sustenance is, and it’s not on the offshore online garbage patches that threaten our current and future digital ecosystems.
We’re not content with connection, we don’t only want our name to be seen, we want it to be known by as many people as it takes to achieve the level of fame and fortune we seek. To lead others toward what we covet, we get them to propel us forward with an irresistible pitch so they identify with our mission and are grateful for our leadership.
Offer to solve precariousness, lack of prospects, and absence of purpose with one fell swoop of the keyboard and watch herds of hopefuls flock to you with an open heart, an open mind, and most importantly an open wallet.
Timing is impact.
Along with the millions for fell for Trump’s scam that he would make America great again, whatever that means, you too may have been duped by one or several digital prophets of profit who generously offered to stir you in the direction of online riches. From platforms to practitioners, the list is endless.
Our appetite for life hacks and quick fixes and easy money schemes had already made us vulnerable to deceit but now? There’s a pandemic, unemployment is growing, and people are getting restless, distraught, and desperate. Many wonder if taking their own life might be cheaper than living, others have already followed through.
None of this is normal but it has been normalized by those who saw a way to make money from it, chief among them Trump.
Happiness is the deflated football America gives us the right to run after but never catch because we’re too busy shopping for solutions instead of focusing on figuring out one. We want to expedite happiness and whatever gets delivered is never right, always dented, cheaply made, and already out of fashion. Sometimes, it has already lost its virtue signaling power. We could make the solution if we wanted to, we could embody it and write it as well but how many of us understand this and do?
Trump does, see “The Art of the Deal” for details, a tome his ghostwriter suggested be recategorized as fiction.
How can we not lose heart and brace for the worst? And what if the worst happens to be something no different from what many have tolerated and profited from up to now? Can you afford another four years of what has been and is? It has been lucrative for you, of course you can.
Someone will gloat, someone will profit, someone will pay.
You may not know where you fit into this new order where we no longer hold ourselves and one another accountable for the reality we create, one where disinhibited greed and grift can turn any also-ran into a winner who takes it all. And the business model scaled until it ran out of human hope, the girth of greed eclipsing the last of what once used to be known as character, backbone, courage.
Brave in nature, not just tag line or tagged social media posts.
Trump supporters have the courage of their convictions, convictions they don’t take ownership of and pride themselves in. Aberrant though it may be, they’re Americans who dare stand for something. Do you? We’re quick to point the finger at the zeitgeist for emboldening the darkest aspects of the human psyche but why can we still not find it in ourselves to write up a different script? Try as we might, we cannot look away from the greatest show on Earth, the funeral wake for fellow feeling live-streaming online via the grabby fingers of assorted scammers who aren’t only greedy but also proud of it, regardless of political affiliation.
Everything is a stunt now so we come to the screen with the expectation of discomfort, bracing for the onslaught of words that may or may not mean anything, depending on platform and algorithms. But before we’ve even had a chance to locate words that do not diminish, despise, or dehumanize anyone, we’ve been sucked into a vortex of reactivity that torpedoes whatever residual joy we had been able to hang on to.
Stop the carnage otherwise cats will be deployed. Reality may be more fluid than ever but, thankfully, not always in a negative sense. And yet, more often than not the tool designed to empower us has diminished us and made us fearful of speaking out against it lest we should be blacklisted, canceled, or defunded.
There’s always an inscrutable threat hanging over those who openly dare butt heads with the zeitgeist; it commonly results in precariousness. And the latter is the reason why complacency is a lot easier than decency, especially when falling in line can earn you money.
What price freedom when we build our own jail ourselves?
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For everything else, deets in bio.