why we're fecked

LOKdown, the culchie problem, and where to go next

Some of the best letters that get sent into our local newspaper are the ones that capture an existential crisis – whenever anything of note happens within a fifty-kilometer radius of Portlaoise at least one person will try composing a piece in which they lament about how utterly irrelevant our county has become and there’s something oddly beautiful about it. These pieces never actually go anywhere or lead to anything changing but I guess that’s the point, you’re essentially just seeing someone go through the five stages of grief over the absence of a bridge and that feels oddly poignant, mainly just as it’s surprising that anyone would actually put in the effort to write about it.

I think its time for me to finally try putting together one of these letters – Laois is just after entering a two week localized lockdown due to a resurgence of COVID-19 and my plans for the month have been put into flux as a result. I’d initially planned on weaning myself off my current writing schedule over the next few weeks as we edged towards normality again – the way in which I’ve kept this blog updated over the past few months requires at least two all-nighters a week and that isn’t really feasible while living in the real, non-insane world. At first I assumed that I’d spend the next few weeks making up for lost time – cutting down to just writing once a week in order to focus on returning to regular exercise, actually productive work, and the friends I’ve gone a concerning amount of time without seeing face-to-face. That’s all essentially gone out the window now, leading to me sitting here on a Monday trying to throw together a response to three cynical tweets that made me vaguely angry yesterday for some reason. This year has gone well.


this is what alienation sounds like

cw: some descriptions of violence, references to suicide attempts

The internet is impossibly large and a bunch of useless-seeming algorithms determine how we interact with it – a majority of what we see on the net is purposely targeted to us based on our past actions and it’s scarily easy to not realize how surreal that is. I think I’m gradually coming to terms with the fact that these blog posts are heavily indebted to Spotify’s recommendation algorithms – I’ve discovered half of the albums that defined my lockdown due to them popping up on my home screen as an album ended and the other half initially entered my life through the rabbit holes these algorithms enable. The space in my life that was once occupied by a certain music forum has been substituted by a piece of software trained on the exact same people I actively chose to stop paying attention to and there’s something morbidly interesting about that to me – there are people out there with nearly the exact same musical tastes as mine and I’ll probably never interact with them. Any (largely flawed) sense of community created by shared fandom has gradually been sidelined as the death march of communicative capitalism (and the world pandemic we’re still living under) atomizes us further and further – the coronavirus outbreak may have accelerated this process but it feels as if we’ve made a major shift over time from the shared, communal spaces of record shops and concerts to the finely-tuned desert islands created by these algorithms. We’re still all connected in a certain sense, just not in a way that lends itself to meaningful interactions – whatever data we generate online is constantly being compared to those around us but these algorithms actively obfuscate that fact, tricking us into assuming that we’re isolated individuals with genuinely unique tastes. This week I’m going to try (and presumably fail) to write about an album that the Spotify algorithm shoved in my face, if anything just so I can pretend to fully understand it.