Let's chat it up
Also: The real problem with social media? It was built by dorks with no social skills. Of course it broke bad. | Plus: Thoughts about horseshoe theory, Andrew Tate, status, and the science of beauty.
Bonus Rubesletter! Well, lookie here. A new addition to my Substack publication: The Rubesletter subscriber chat. It’s kind of like a group chat or live hangout exclusively for subscribers. I’ll post short prompts/thoughts/links and then we can all discuss without having to deal with an algorithm, Elon Musk, or your weirdo uncle tossing in rando memes. “Will be wild.” (I end all invites with that now.)
To join the chat, you’ll need to download the Substack app, now available for both iOS and Android. Chats are sent via the app, not email, so turn on push notifications so you don’t miss conversation as it happens.
More details at the end.
5 tech thoughts
💾 The problem with social media is we let people who lack any semblance of social skills be in charge of how we all communicate. It’s like putting incels in charge of all the dating apps.
💾 The tech world: "The problem with humanity is it doesn't scale."
💾 The secret power of the algorithm is it’s an editor that can't be sued for what it chooses to show you.
💾 Kinda amazing to look at the social media platforms that dominate our lives and realize the most reasonable one is owned by the Chinese government.
💾 As far as I can tell, 80% of educated people I know do nothing. They're not rich. They're not retired. Yet somehow they pay for 6 streaming services, rounds of mezcal shots, and Burning Man. They say they work in digital marketing and talk about SEO optimization, yet spend all day on Instagram. It's all perplexing and feels unsustainable, but I guess our empire has to collapse somehow.
The Rubesletter • by Matt Ruby (Vooza) is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Podcast: Kind of a Lot with Matt Ruby
🎧 Ep 5 // I was not alerted: The most unbelievable things about life before smartphones
About life pre-iPhone addiction, before maps were an app, and before "Move Fast and Break Things" was an ethos that delivered on its message and didn't care about the consequences.
Here’s a clip.
🎧 Listen to the full episode. And if you dig it, please leave a kind review at Apple Podcasts. Like this one…
🗯 In, Ted Gioia asks, "Where’s the audience for all this content?"
Never before has so much culture been available to so many at such little cost.
There’s just one tiny problem.
Where’s the audience? The supply of culture is HUGE and GROWING. But the demand side of the equation is ugly.
In many cases—newspaper subscribers, album purchases, movie tickets sold, etc.—the metrics have been shrinking or even collapsing.
🗯 Jules Evans on the popularity of Andrew Tate:
Imagine you’re a young man really struggling with life, with mental illness or poverty or loneliness or sexual frustration or other forms of failure, and you meet three influencers at a crossroads. The first influencer says ‘you’re right to be so unhappy, that’s because of capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, CIS heteronormativity and other forms of systemic oppression. I offer you solidarity — let’s be unhappy together, online. Let’s complain about the bad people’. The second influencer says ‘stop whining and take responsibility for your life. Then good things will happen. Look at me, I was a whining p*ssy just like you, now I have a six-pack, millions of dollars, fast cars and a harem of hot girlfriends’. And the third says ‘you’re a white man? Sit down and STFU.’ Which one are you going to follow? Whose life do you want to imitate? You’re going to follow the pimp with the BMW and the cigar.
ICYMI: Earlier this week, I wrote about non-toxic masculinity…
🗯 I just learned about horseshoe theory.
The idea, first posited by French philosopher Jean-Pierre Faye, that extremists from both left and right have more in common with each other than they do with supposedly level-headed centrists from their own parties.
🗯 In “The Status Revolution,” Chuck Thompson argues class signifiers have flipped, so that what was once luxe is out and what was once lowbrow is in.
Chuck Thompson seems to regard these changes as a bad thing. “If almost no one has any idea what status and prestige are anymore,” he writes in his new book, “The Status Revolution,” “one thing is certain — the order they’ve traditionally provided is being disrupted. No wonder the country has become so dysfunctional.” He continues: “We no longer know how to measure our value and standing among our fellow citizens.”
Between social media and porn and podcasts and video games, you can live a low quality simulation of what a fulfilling life would be,” says Phillip. “You can get social interaction from social media, the feeling of problem solving or being productive from video games, and sexual fulfillment from porn.”
🗯 What makes something beautiful? According to Neil deGrasse Tyson: We know it won’t kill us.
There may be a good reason for our instinctive attraction to some things and distaste for others. If our mammalian ancestors, running underfoot, hadn’t feared reptilian dinosaurs they would have been swiftly eaten. Similarly, nearly everyone would agree that the harmless butterfly is more beautiful than the stinger-equipped bee — with the possible exception of beekeepers.
Risk of bodily harm appears to matter greatly in our collective assessment of what is or is not beautiful. Beauty could very well be a way for our senses to reassure us when we feel safe in a dangerous universe.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. Full details on how to get started with chat:
Download the app by clicking this link or the button below. Substack Chat is now available on both iOS and Android.
Open the app and tap the Chat icon. It looks like two bubbles in the bottom bar, and you’ll see a row for my chat inside.
That’s it! Jump into my thread to say hi, and if you have any issues, check out Substack’s FAQ.
Download the Substack iOS app, then go to the Chat tab in the bottom row. There, you’ll see available chats for Substacks that you subscribe to.