Gimme the Electric Shock Button
I just want to feel something.
Matt Levine and Erin Kissane are both thinking about the study that found “67% of men and 25% of women” would rather inflict a painful electrical shock on themselves than be alone with their thoughts for fifteen minutes. For Levine it explains why people are voluntarily letting B-tier tech villain Sam Altman scan their irises with his creepy orb.
Nobody is going to turn down getting their eyes scanned by a chrome orb, that is just science. Oh a guy is building a superintelligent AI and also compiling a permanent electronic identification database of all humans, that’s great, that’s not an alarming science-fiction premise at all. I feel like if you made that movie you’d have to have some plausible back story about how the AI convinced people to hand over their iris scans to the AI, but in the real world you don’t.
For Kissane it explains why people would choose to use Bluesky or TAFKAT instead of Mastodon, despite the latter being open source and not operated by the whim and for the benefit of an increasingly deranged right-wing billionaire. People Kissane surveyed on Bluesky about why they bounced off Mastodon described the Masto experience on a spectrum from “boring” to “hostile,” and in a sidebar Kissane speculated that:
You can make the most virtuous and intentionally non-harmful network in the world, but if it doesn’t feel alive, most people will pick something worse instead.
I think both of them are underplaying the extent to which that study just proves that men are dumb. I know I’d try out the electric shock button—not even because I was bored, just to see what it’s like. I’d probably hit the button as soon as they told me what it did, but then again, I also open Twitter every morning.
But today I’m thinking longingly of electrocuting myself because it’s clear the summer content doldrums have arrived. Every year I forget why I take August off, and then August approaches and the tabs get so boring that a little light auto-galvanism starts to seem inviting. Elon Musk put an ugly temporary sign on the building he hates in the city he hates advertising the dumb new name of the company he hates. It lights up in an appropriately hostile way. Elon also debuted what is apparently Twitter’s new tagline, “Go Out In A Blaze of Glory!” In response, Mark Zuckerberg changed the Threads motto to “Let’s just do it and be legends, man.” Joe Biden went to the beach. Lisa Murkowski’s interns are running a selfie competition, but to be fair that’s probably more politically productive than any other Senator has been in the last 60 days. The Wall St. Journal got so bored they asked Katie Roiphe, Andrew Sullivan, and Agnes Callard their opinions on How We Do Sex Today which is the editorial equivalent of holding down the electric shock button for the full fifteen minutes.
In tech, it’s slow enough that Kashmir Hill profiled TechDirt’s Mike Masnick, who is great, especially by tech blogger standards, but has been at it since 1998 and the kicker quote is “It’s cool when people can do stuff.” Doing things? Heck yeah. Mike is a shock button presser for sure. Hell Gate teases upcoming Hell Ape AI journalism project, trained exclusively on “18th- and 19th-century English poets… [and] untold terabytes of one of the liveliest corners of the internet: men's rights comment boards.” LG designed a $450 coffee robot that will pop a squat and piss out two different Nespresso capsules at the same time. Look at this guy:
$136,336 pledged of $5,000 goal, by 330 backers. Every one of those people would have been just as happy hitting the electric shock button for free.
Today in Craigslist: Skyscraper for sale. $4 billion OBO. Calls only NO TEXTS texts on here are ALWAYS SCAM. As-is where-is, if it’s still posted it’s still for sale!
Today in TMI: Slate writers share their couples shibboleths, like “I.F.” and “ESBU.” Equally cute and cringey. And Elizabeth McCafferty wrote about the Instagram chefs that built a following by fucking their food.
Today in Endings: Ed Yong is leaving The Atlantic. The New Hampshire Libertarian Party stopped pretending not to be a white supremacist organization. And Paul Reubens died of cancer at age 70. If you haven’t watched it recently, “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” really holds up.
Today’s Song: The Roots, “Double Trouble”
Music Intern Sam is “feeling ancient today.” I am feeling like a good plan is to finish up Season Eight this week and start my hiatus on Friday. So if you were hoping to become a paid subscriber before Season Nine kicks off in September, time is running out. I just realized that next March will be TABS X. We’ll have to do something special to celebrate.