Wednesday, April 3, 2024

One Reason Why You’re Tired

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but the Amazon “Just Walk Out” revelation really crystallized for me why life in 2024 is so fucking exhausting. And it’s due to the fact that everything is rigged and nothing can be trusted.

I mean, was I SURPRISED when I learned that Amazon’s magical shops where you walked in scanned a QR code to identify yourself, grabbed things off the shelves, and left with the amounts automatically being charged to your account was in fact powered by the “technology” of 1,000 low-wage workers in India watching you shop on a video feed? No. And also yes.

I mean, I expected it to be a stunt, but I expected it to be a less audacious, more predictable kind of stunt. It’s like when Elon Musk showed off his “robot” and it was a hired dancer in a robot suit. First, how do they think they can get away with it, and then second, oh, wait, they did get away with it. Everyone’s still gonna one-click buy for two-day shipping and Elon still has all his sweet government contracts for rockets and satellite internets and chargers.

Everything is manipulated and gamed for maximum short-term benefit, creating layers and layers of systems that instantly lose their meaning. Five-star rating systems? Seems reasonable on the face of it, but then the people implementing the systems started to make hiring and firing decisions and suddenly 5.00 became “fine” and 4.99 stars became “fire this cretin” and why are we even bothering at this point?

Algorithms game our content, and our content games the algorithm and now I can’t even mindlessly consume social media without wondering whether every benign, mildly amusing post is a genuine, sincere life experience or a carefully crafted simulacrum of a sincere life experience because someone else’s sincere life experience got engagement or  maybe is just straight up copy/pasting someone else’s sincere life experience that got engagement OR MAYBE IT’S JUST A COPY PASTE OF SOMEONE ELSE’S FAKE SINCERE LIFE EXPERIENCE THAT GOT ENGAGEMENT BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW PEOPLE ARE DRAWN TO SINCERE LIFE EXPERIENCES …

And the screaming starts and never stops.

Inflation is when prices go up so now that there’s some inflation let’s make prices go up and blame it on inflation. Let’s violate the spirit of the gag order and not the specific letter of it so they have to change the gag order to account for my loophole and then I’ll violate it again and rely on institutional caution to avoid consequences. 

Is this e-mail real, fake, or a fake fake my boss sent me to see if I’m good enough at spotting fakes? Is this ad for a product real or fake? Is the store selling it real or fake? Is the product the same as the picture and description? Check the reviews! Oh wait the reviews might be fake too! And these are just the day-to-day low-stakes decisions. Get sick? Interact with law enforcement? Get laid off? Not only do the decisions have bigger consequences, but the systems you interact with will be even more rigged against you.

You want to create exhausted nihilism? You can’t do much better than a system where the only real thing is the constant suffering of the people so powerless they have to engage with these systems and play by their “rules”. Where, if you’re even lucky enough to have media literacy, you have to keep it going with every single word you consume.

And just when you think you’ve got the hang of that, bam, deepfakes and AI waltz in and now you’re counting fingers on every picture you see.
Where you can’t even walk out of a store with a loaf of bread without  eight different ethical quandaries, seven of which you’re not even given the information you need to resolve. No wonder we’re all fucking tired.