The Concurrency Pool
What if, when I was not actively online, my profile disappeared. You lose the ability to interact with my digital outputs, until I am active again. This isn’t how anything works online, except for Twitch in its own way.
Instead, there is always a piece of me lingering to be consumed, to be activated despite whatever I may be doing in the world of atoms. Of course now, because of this fact there is no distinction. As my sense of presence is forever fractured. I am always everywhere for many.
I started to think of being “passively-actively online” after reading Telephasic Workshop by KneelingBus. Here is the big chunk that helped me write this train of thought.
If Netflix represents solipsism, the place you go alone to shut down at the end of a long day, there’s an even larger spectrum of internet platforms that counteract that: social media, messaging apps, and collaborative tools that we dip into and out of hundreds of times a day to hang out for a few minutes at a time. In these spaces, coming and going is so frictionless that they’re not synchronous either, although they feel that way during the brief time you’re there. The emergence of scheduled online events paired with offline activities, like Peloton or HQ, seems like an experiment in imposing temporal discipline on this way of existing, but maybe those products are just meeting a basic human need for doing something with a lot of other people at the same time.
In my previous newsletter I wrote about the act of watching platforms, not the content itself. And before that, I’ve been meditating on the fact that — mediated through glass as the material — everything has become tv.
So now where is my head?
Essentially I keep coming back to this visual. Where we are all sunbathing around a pool. This is our 1-player experience. The pool itself can represent a group-chat, Twitter, a new show. The multi-player experience. The point is, we are all very aware of the pool because we have the mechanisms on hand to watch the activity. We aren’t far away from any experience today, it’s simply an act of intentional participation in the hopes of feeling the sensation of a crowd. This sensation is what allows us a sense of comfort in the knowledge that you are experiencing a similar reality as someone else… perhaps the basis of living.
At times the pool, for what we care for, is very still. Maybe someone hops in and broadcasts a “personal update” that signals that the water is fine, and we should come in and splash around. Yay, someone got a new gig at another internet thing that helps other people do internet things. Other times there’s a cannonball, and it simply splashes everyone around the pool whether or not you like it. Now everyone jumps in, and we all try not to drown… this is what Twitter has been feeling like most days for me… hence my break.
The pool is simply too big and everyone brought their distant 5th cousins in, and we still think that we can all swim without getting smacked in the face.
I like thinking of profile’s as a pool that you’re always in. But on most platforms, anyone can hop in your pool and splash around. Because the profile is extended by it’s existence and discoverability on most timeline / discovery feeds. There’s a certain point where the amount of influence backfires against your sense of peace and control of the amassed audience and you wonder if you were ever ready for this sense of scale… I mean… this many visitors hanging out at your pool.
This is what I assume is the driver behind so many people thinking about intentional digital third places. Carving out a pool that they can control more with a sense of discovery that isn’t overbearing… yet can accommodate the flexibility of asynchronosity (that’s the word deal with it) that we simply expect. Waiting for the signal that the water is fine.
I had another thought but I forgot it. If you’ve found it, please let me know.
Thanks so much for giving me your attention. I hope it was worth it, if not… unsubscribing will not hurt my feelings, and will give you back time you literally cannot have back.