My Worst Nightmare

Two Billion The Truman Shows: Individual Nightmares and Collective Dreams

Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

It is different what we find scary. When I was in kindergarten, The Land Before Time would freak me out. I remember hiding in the back of the room while it was playing so I could easily sneak out without my friends noticing. To this day I’m still not sure if I’ve ever managed to watch any of the films to the end.

Fortunately with The Land Before Time I could close the door and leave the drama behind. Out of sight, out of mind. With The Truman Show everything was different. The Truman Show was the first film that changed how I perceived the world. For weeks after having watched the film I’d look for hidden cameras behind mirrors. I couldn’t stop questioning if my life was a TV show, with me being the unaware main character.

Crime, fantasy, horror, sci-fi… I had watched it all by the time I first saw The Truman Show, but none of it had managed to shake me up to the same degree as Jim Carrey living a peaceful life until he realized that it was all for show. It was not death nor war that scared me, it was the idea of living in a fake reality; a reality different from the people around me.

Twenty years ago I watched The Truman Show on TV. We only had one TV at home. It was a small black and white TV with only the public service stations. The TV was standing in the living room and there was no option to pause the film. If I had to pee or make pop-corn, I’d have to ask my family what had happened while I was gone.

Today I don’t have a TV any longer. A few years ago I had one for a short while, but otherwise my laptop and mobile phone have been my TV screens for the past decade. As a true millennia, I’ve cut the cable under the motto of “anywhere, anytime”. I don’t need any parent nor public broadcaster to decide what I watch, I want to make that decision myself.

I can probably find The Truman Show and The Land Before Time on Netflix. And if not on Netflix, then I can probably find them elsewhere. I can create my own world. And so can you. And so we do.

In 2019 we all live in some sort of fake reality; realities different from one another. The recommended films I see on Netflix are different from those you see. The news I see in my Facebook and Twitter feed are different from those you see. The shops I see in Google Maps are different from those you see.

Today we are all a blue dot showing our own location while navigating through a hyper-personalized world. Our living room TVs have become toilet break Youtube. Our public broadcasters have become commercial algorithms. Very rarely do we get to share a common reality. Did we just invent two billion The Truman Shows?

Four Stories on Technology and Internet Culture

1. The Global Economy Runs on Parties You’re Not Invited To

The Internet promised an equal playing-field. And sure it changed industries - especially in advertising where Facebook and Google accounts for the vast majority of revenue dollars. Farhad Manjoo wonders why people still flok to meet at industry gatherings in a world that supposedly should be flat.

2. Tristan Harris - US Senate June 25, 2019

These days there is a lot of talk about technology companies designing for addiction. I imagine the boards at Disney, Coca-Cola and American Tobacco being happy with the current focus of the zeitgeist. Tristan Harris is one of the pioneers of Time Well Spent, and when you accept the hyperbolic notion and remember that the world was born before the Internet, then it is actually a rather insightful testimonial Tristan does with the US Senate.

3. Emma Chamberlain Is the Most Important YouTuber Today

This week’s Internet Culture by Taylor Lorenz. By now I should probably recommend you to enable notifications for her new articles.

“Millennials are so curated, and Gen Z is very not,” said Adesanya. “Millennials used social media as a highlight reel … Gen Z is like, ‘Hey, this is what I’m doing right now, this is what I look like right now.’”

4. What we get wrong about religion

I read Casper ter Kuile’s newsletter religiously. Originally it was his writings on community that caught my attention, but I think it is his thoughts on religion that got me to stay. I’m the son of a pastor, so religion has been a part of my childhood. But where I as a kid tried to ignore this as much as possible, I’ve started to think of how it actually has shaped me. I found last week’s issue on faith as trust very intriguing.

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and I’m one of the founders of co-matter. You just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

As always a big thanks to the six Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajSørenDriesMikkelTina & Angela!