Relationships Technology

The hollow banality of the metaverse

Liked Who Is Still Inside the Metaverse? by Paul Murray (Intelligencer)

My hopeless, bizarre, maddening quest to find some friends in Horizon Worlds, which is Facebook’s — excuse me, Meta’s — home base in the metaverse.

The headset is decidedly antisocial. Once the Meta Quest is strapped on, it’s adios to the real world, so much so that the headset prompts you to demarcate a “play area” by spraying a virtual boundary line on the ground…

Henceforth, whenever I’m close to the edge of my boundary, the real world appears “through” the virtual one in a gritty, low-resolution black-and-white version of itself, like found footage in a ’90s horror movie. It’s hard not to suspect that this is how Meta wants you to think of analog reality.

Gamification is everywhere these days — in the classroom, at work, on your daily bike ride — but introducing it into a comedy club seems particularly perverse. The late anthropologist David Graeber talked about the “baseline communism” that holds society together, the many small acts of goodwill people perform for one another every day without even thinking… I’m sure Okiedriver, who’s clearly a kind, thoughtful guy, deeply invested in his club, would show people around for free. But because the club has introduced this points system, his goodwill has been, effectively, monetized.

[T]his upending of social norms has a strange flattening effect on interactions in virtual reality. […] Here, in the metaverse, nobody has any connection to anyone else beyond owning a headset, a weak tie if ever there was one. Consequently, the conversations tend to stay on the level of small talk. If you’re a metaverse developer and you regard the details of real life as basically cosplay, then you will see no reason a lasting bond shouldn’t spring up between two avatars floating in cyberspace. But in practice, when you remove everything that gives someone’s life shape and meaning, the essence that’s left doesn’t have a huge amount to say beyond stray thoughts on bitcoin or the latest episode of The Last of Us.

Personal Growth Relationships

Read Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come

Read Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come

An introvert spends a year trying to live like an extrovert with hilarious results and advice for readers along the way.

This was entertaining — more memoir than serious non-fiction. Biggest takeaway was to put yourself out there and be vulnerable.

Encapsulated in this quote: “That’s the truth of the world… Nobody waves — but everybody waves back.” – Nick Epley, a researcher she talked to

Being charismatic:

  • Hold eye contact while shaking hands
  • Ask a genuine open ended question
  • Ask how they feel about it
  • Validate their feelings

Events for networking:

  • Go to events that actually sound fun
  • Stay at least an hour
  • Arrive on time
  • Talk to 3 people
  • Try to really connect with 1

“Some women don’t need so much help with public speaking as with the self-doubt and self-loathing that hold them back from getting involved in it.” – Viv Groskop, How to Own the Room

Comics History Relationships Society

Read Seek You

Read Seek You by Kristen Radke

There is a silent epidemic in America: loneliness. Shameful to talk about and often misunderstood, loneliness is everywhere, from the most major of metropolises to the smallest of towns.

In Seek You, Kristen Radtke’s wide-ranging exploration of our inner lives and public selves, Radtke digs into the ways in which we attempt to feel closer to one another, and the distance that remains. Through the lenses of gender and violence, technology and art, Radtke ushers us through a history of loneliness and longing, and shares what feels impossible to share.

Ranging from the invention of the laugh-track to the rise of Instagram, the bootstrap-pulling cowboy to the brutal experiments of Harry Harlow, Radtke investigates why we engage with each other, and what we risk when we turn away. With her distinctive, emotionally charged drawings and deeply empathetic prose, Kristen Radtke masterfully shines a light on some of our most vulnerable and sublime moments, and asks how we might keep the spaces between us from splitting entirely.

A bit of memoir mixed in with history and analysis, this is the kind of non-fiction book I like best: synthesizing and humanizing the subject, elevating it with visual symbolism, and honing in on the essential because of the length restrictions of the graphic novel format. Especially appreciated the section on the cowboy idol and American toxic independence. The chapter on monkey research was hard to read because the experiments are so upsetting, though she illustrates it compassionately.

She uses a color palette suited to the melancholy of loneliness: gray-blues, muted purple, beige, and an orange that in the context of the book reminds me of a streetlight or passing cars through the window at night. A variety of visual metaphors conveys concepts along with thematic and autobiographical illustrations. Shadows fall heavy on faces with dramatic lighting, and the line work is fine and precise, summoning the sterility and disaffection of Chris Ware or Adrian Tomine. In short, the mood suits the work well.

Loneliness influences the expression of our genes – and lonely people are more likely to die and get sick (also rad drawing of an octopus)

Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism: loneliness is “the common ground for terror”

Loneliness is contagious