BIG ASS THREAD. I'm of the mind that certain words have a lot of meaning, both intended and unintended. I want to talk about the Tech's world's love of "Disruption."
The concept of disruptive innovation is actually pretty simple: enter any given marketplace by creating a new technology that completely shakes up the given model and create a new model. The tech world has come to worship this disruption for obvious reason: it's the quickest way to get rich fast. It's the way to hurt your competition. It''s the fastest path to empire. And most of all, it's the best way to get attention from venture capitalists for your series A. The problems of disruption are also obvious. Because if disruption is the goal, no one really thinks about the validity of the new thing they create, they just care that it breaks the old thing. It has all the constructive nuance of a wrecking ball.
And that's the problem. Because i don't care about the "success" of disruption. The real thing that matters, when we look at what tech companies have been doing the last ten years, is the effect on our lives and the world.
Let's start simple. I fucking love my iphone. We will look back at these kinds of smart phones as probably the most important, life-changing invention of the era. I can reach the whole world in infinite ways with the touch of a button. The problem is that it is also designed to reach me no matter how much I would prefer it not to... See when I work, I need to, you know, focus. As a result, I literally have to put my phone in a different room. For there is literally nothing more difficult than trying to write a scene or an argument and being on a train of thought something being like HEY ANSWER / NOTICE / THINK ABOUT THIS OTHER THING.
But that's exactly what the phone, and everything within it, wants. Their success is directly measured by my level of engagement. Facebook, twitter, netflix, everything is literally about maximum usage.
And so we have been sold is a "a life of constant disruption," because that's how we stay most engaged. We live in a notification culture. An auto-play culture. We are told it is best for us because of convenience. When really it is best for them. "But-but-but it gives you the option to switch them off!" And that's right, but the amount of fucking work i have to put in to do that is grotesque. And often labyrinthian. Navigating it is it's own disruption. And the fact that I constantly have to re-do them with every fucking god dam update of every little thing is very much on fucking purpose.
There is no "ease" here because it's 100% not the option they want me to do. They want me engaged. Instagram keeps a shiny red bothersome notification TO TELL YOU YOUR NOTIFICATIONS ARE OFF AND NOPE THAT SHOULDN'T BE THE CASE.
Please understand, I'm not a technophobe. This isn't about "kids today!" or being able to adapt. The adapting is easy. All of this has a clear and easy purpose. But there is also a clear stark reality as a result: If i lived the way apple google and facebook etc. really wanted me to live, I would never, ever, ever be able to do my job or completely focus at a given time. And neither would you. This is inescapably true.
Never for one second for get that these companies genuinely don't care about the quality of life, or well-being. It's all lip-service. They just want you to have an engaged life. There's a reason zuckerberg's answer is always "more facebook / better algorithm." So while tech always talks about "disruption" in terms of marketplace, it seems like only now they are being forced to freaking think about is the effect on how it disrupts humanity. It's like "congrats zuck! back when you were talking all about how proud of disruption you were, you really nailed it and disrupted democracy itself! You're a maverick aren't ya!"
From empowering harassers to swinging elections, it's an afterthought that they absolutely 100% do not want to deal with, especially coming from their specific brand of libertarian tech bro thinking. They'd rather just keep encroaching.
Take the simple version of what twitter has been doing. They realized Twitter wasn't growing as fast recently and people weren't following new people. Their solution? Show you tweets that other people have liked / people who you do not follow. So that you will click on the new people and follow them and drive more engagement... This is 100% immoral to me. It is putting things / people you categorically do not want to see, directly in front of you. It is direct encroachment. And it is double unconscionable not to have an option to say "don't do this." Instead you simply get to say "I dont like this tweet." Which is actually a general blanket statement that ties into their algorithm that doesn't stop the encroaching tweets, but punish you by putting less of the people you love into your feed. Meaning? it is directly forcing your hand / acceptance of the feature.
This is all on purpose. They need you to accept the changes / notifications / disruption. Again, there's a reason settings re-set with every update. There's a reason they want me to take phone calls on my fucking computer (for me, a sin against nature). And they make a pile of work for you to change it to give the illusion of choice, when really, it would be mighty kind if you just slowly get used to the life of constant disruption.
Then what's funny is how people who attack the notion of disruption are largely regarded as luddites. Which I get. But I'm not having an argument of how switching from coal to solar is unfair to workers. I'm talking about intended purpose & effect. Because the intention of disruption is dogshit and the result has got us catatonic. This feeling and effect of constant disruption is talked about beautifully in the book "present shock" because the horrifying effect is constant dissonance. We know this. We know how paralyzing the news is now when 9 horrible stories can hit as once and we barely have space to process them. We KNOW it's bad.
So the simplest question remains: why are we still choosing all this?
We know the tech bros ain't gonna change. But for us, it's a part humanity's monstrous appetite for convenience, along with the inconvenience of doing the work to stop it. But then there's the deeper reason... Anyone who goes to take a poop without their phone these days will suddenly realize the shocking reality of not being engaged and just having to sit and think. Sure we sometimes had magazines, but it's a simple action we have had to do so many times before with the stark change now staring us in the face. It is the terror of being alone with our own thoughts.
I do not evoke this from a place of judgement. It is a place I know far too fucking well. My thoughts can cycle through and haunt me. We are ALL facing this. But we all know that the bigger price comes in constantly running away. Which brings the metaphor full circle: we choose disruption because the alternative is simply being with pain. And we hope the next disruption is a joyful antidote to that pain. And it all coils into an infinitely closing loop, moving faster and faster, until a singular state of paralysis, ever eating it up, ever consuming the product.
I don't have a solution... for I am perpetually disrupted.