Staying Within the Machine

I made a conscious decision in 1997 to immerse myself in the incoming technological apparatus that capitalism was unleashing on the world. Until this moment in time I had purposefully avoided capitalism, a career, and understanding how business was applying technology. I had spent the previous decade actively working to subvert the system from the outside-in, and for me to have the impact I wanted on society I knew that I had to get closer to the machine and operate from within, otherwise I was just going to be chewed up by the machine. I noticed how well-designed the machine was at targeting, destroying, or simply locking up threats that were outside the system, but just how difficult it was for the machine to target in between its own gears—this is where I needed to be.

I spent the first ten years of this centruy just studying the machine. I needed to know how it was going to work. Once I began to understand how things work I began looking for ways to subvert the machine. To tell stories about how we can still live within the machine, while also throwing our bodies against the machine. You have to learn to tell stories very loudly, and as demonstrated recently with the switch in power via the Twittersphere, you have to be ready to pack up and move to a different part of the machine at any moment. There are two reasons I position myself where I am at, 1) to understand how the machine works so my stories are relevant to the hum of the machine, and 2) make it more difficult to be targeted by the machine for extermination or incarceration. If I am playing along, my stories sound familiar and relevant to folks, but sticking around and keeping my storytelling going is the number one way I do this hustle.

I know that you can live a life outside the machine. It isn’t easy, and you have to learn to do without. I may go there at some point. But for now, I’ve kind of learned to enjoy the game. I just have to keep reminding myself why I’m here. I have to not let the sounds of the machine drive me mad, or force me to lose my soul. I have to internalize the sounds and vibrations of the machine, and empathize with the emotions of those who exist around me perpetually to find the stories that matter to us in any given moment. I regularly struggle staying sane and coherent amongst all the noise, and perpetually find myself unable to find the signal that matters, despite years of evidence to the contrary. I’ll keep on keep’n on within this state of existence for as long as I can. At some point I fully expect to need to step away, but I’ve gotten to know the machine so well, it has kind of become an old friend. Not for the service it does to its master, but just as a big, dumb, lumbering robot that marches on day after day.

This is just a regular post to remind myself of the bigger picture. I really, really, really get tired of technology most days. If I could figure out how to make money doing something offline, I’d sure jump at it. The problem is that I am good at what I do. The problem is staying the course and not burning myself out. It isn’t that I work too much. It is simply that working in tech lacks a lot of nutrients, and the work tends to consume you. Ultimately I don’t think I will ever leave. I don’t think I would enjoy just sitting somewhere checked out. It is just important that we sustain. I am not looking to get rich. I like making a name for myself. But I am more interested in being that slightly interesting person telling stories to anyone who will listen about this crazy invisible machine we’ve built around us that very few seem to even notice. The trick is to keep finding the stories that I find interesting, but also others find interesting. Preferably stories that help us all make sense of this digital chaos that we’ve unleashed, and help us all stay afloat in some meaningful ways.