I was about to post something about the current obsession with Trump’s failing as a human being but, eh, we have at least eight more years for this obsession to continue. Anyway, short version: He’s not the problem, he’s merely the symptom.
Instead, here again is my, you guessed it, MANIFESTO. Which I loved writing, especially this bit about the Tardigrade. I love how writing works — you come across something odd, a little bizarre, even frightening, in this case, and you think to yourself, "Oh, that’s just weird," and you file it away in your head for some hazily conceived future use. Mostly, it’s just something that fascinates you. In this case: when I first read about the Tardigrade, I was horrified. And it stuck with me for years. And then, when I began writing the manifesto, it occurred to me that this creature was the perfect metaphor.
Here it is.
"In your excursions and incursions into our worlds, you might have encountered the Tardigrade, a terrible, monstrous, horrible thing, with keen but barely visible eyes, claws like the Wolverine’s, a nose that looks like something off the top of a spaceship, an exterior that can withstand radiation a thousand times more than what most living creatures, including humans, can endure, and a slow, threatening gait that lends a sense of impending evil to the topography of terror that is its body.
Or you might have missed it altogether because the Tardigrade is, at best, a millimeter in length. In the natural world, the Tardigrade, though a hardy animal that has been around for at least 500 million years, is harmless.
Social media is full of Tardigrades, user accounts (I hesitate to refer to all of them as “people”) who project themselves as fearsome entities able to summon millions to the most toxic and usually utterly useless “campaigns.”
…Like a Tardigrade turned inside out and upside down, all our (mostly simulated) feelings and emotions are on full display. We assume this means empowerment, as if being on full display is a show of strength. We have no ability to read people, which means we have no way to organise them, but if they like our posts—or, even better, share them!—we think we have effected profound social change. We have lost our sense of the unconscious because we deem it unnecessary and even unclean. How do I feel today? Let me turn to social media. Am I on vacation? Let me spend every waking minute posting about how lovely it is to get away from the grind, and then obsessively check and recheck to see how many have hit “like.” We are suffused with intimacy, an intimacy with millions of others we conceive of as hanging on to our every word when we are no more present for them, no more real, than they are for us."
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