Opsec Nightmares

We all know how brands track and follow us around online so they can target us with timely and effectively advertisements. But is that enough? Can’t other parts of our lives be better leveraged by corporations? We do so many little things every day that don’t benefit marketers, it’s a huge lost opportunity.

Here’s a 1-page zine called Opsec Nightmares. It’s a few little stories containing some ideas for how brands might better market to us in the very near future.

a picture of the zine Opsec Nightmares
Click this image to download the PDF

Once you’ve downloaded and printed the file, here’s Austin Kleon explaining how to fold and cut and fold it into a book.

The story is that we’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek lately and I was thinking about how teleportation would actually work and the phrase “teleportation would be an opsec nightmare” came into my head and then the rest of it just came together.


Imaginary Beverage Reviews

Many many internet years ago (2003-2008) Josh and I had a site called Knowledge for Thirst. It was a very fun place to update each other about what beverages we were drinking. Then a few years later (but still many years ago) (2013!) the phrase “imaginary beverage reviews” popped into my head and I wrote 4-5 reviews of beverages that didn’t actually exist. They were pretty garbage and I set it aside and went to work on other things like books about Kim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen and post-apocalyptic social media influencers. That last one, Cutie Cutie Ghost Show, had been especially a lot of fun to write b/c it’s less a story and more just a long series of dystopian brand interactions.

But then a pandemic was happening and I mostly didn’t feel like writing or being online, and most of my identity as a writer was about being Very Online.

Last fall after deleting most of my social media I was panicked about not having written anything lately, looking at old projects that might be worth reviving, and I poked around with Imaginary Beverage Reviews and thought: Maybe this isn’t terrible? And wrote a few more. And then I thought: No this is so dumb, and set it aside for a few weeks. And back and forth like that – This is so dumb, But maybe it’s not totally dumb? No it’s dumb, But maybe just keeping working on it anyway? – until eventually it was written.

The whole time I kept thinking of a line from the movie Basquiat, the scene where David Bowie is playing Andy Warhol, staring at a piece they’re collaborating on (oddly enough a piece about art + brands), and says, like he’s astonished to hear the words coming out of his mouth, “I can’t even see what’s good anymore.”

The last few years I’ve been on a very long journey back to writing for me — not for the internet, not to have something to tweet or post about, not to try to get something published in a certain place, not to get particular people to react a certain way, not to create content for corporations to put ads on. To be able to listen to my brain and heart long enough to hear them shaping the ideas that could only make sense to me. Anyways here we are.

Another quote, one of my favorites, Linda Barry:

You have to be willing to make things for no known reason.

Lynda Barry, Picture This

Imaginary Beverage Reviews is exactly what it sounds like, reviews of products that mostly do not exist. It’s a 39-page PDF you can download here (alongside a bunch of other books I’ve done!). It’s zero dollars or pay whatever you want.

Cover image for the book Imaginary Beverage Reviews

Extremely Long Cons

I made a little EP of instrumental heist music.

You can find it on all the major streaming platforms!

I am in no way advocating for or condoning use of the particular platform that is linked above. This is not my internet, I just live here and do not own the means of distribution.

safe as houses, quiet as kept

Pretty mortifying – amid mild feelings of accomplishment after having finally updated my website – to click back and realize I wrote the exact same post 6 months ago. Doing great.

Whatever. Suddenly I’ve been nesting with my websites, rearranging and cozying things up.

I uploaded a bunch of old posts from the early wgw days, going back to the 2000s, that I had grown fearful of over the past decade. Just randomly realized I’m not afraid of them any more, or that I’m not afraid of having some of them online anymore, or that there were a few I actually missed having around.

Weird, as least as far the voice of this website is concerned, to see how little has changed in 20 years. A younger me might be terrified of it; the current version of me is mostly relieved. The fear that I had become disconnected with age from some other, more artistically adventurous version of myself, quickly dispelled by the cold realization that I just am how I am, and likely couldn’t change no matter how desperately I wanted to.

Also changed some stuff on kf.com. Mild WordPress fiddling that is boring to talk about but has afforded me no shortage of pridefulness, from editing a text file and SFTP’ing it to a cloud and refreshing a page and seeing that it just worked. You used to have to understand how the internet works in order to build something on it. Now you just have to know how to back up your files and watch a few youtube videos and cross your fingers. Or maybe it’s just about wanting less.

What else. Moved my newsletter over to buttondown, that was easy. And I’m not talking about social media any more, god.

So yay slightly more organized, in the sense of having moved things around and feeling accomplished about it even though you have the exact amount of shit in the exact number of places as when you started.

How should I feel about this, about anything, about the things I accomplished, the things that pass for accomplishment these days, the things I regret ever posting online, the regret about not posting enough online, the things I wrote and promptly forgot about, the things I wanted to write but didn’t and never stopped thinking about.

I have a lot of stuff on the internet, more than I can keep track of, more than I will ever remember. I keep finding it. I’m looking for something on the internet or on my computer and find a story I wrote 12 years ago for a magazine that died before anyone could remember its name. Someone sends an email saying You had this story about x, where can I find it? And I have zero idea what they’re talking about until 2 days later it hits me and I remember, vaguely. I was reading a book recently and the designer’s name was listed in the credits and it sounded familiar and I searched through emails from over a decade ago and found a piece of art he’d created based on one of my stories, a project organized by some website. I don’t remember the story I wrote and I don’t remember the website. Clearly the designer’s done OK for himself in the interim.

Should I keep better track of things? Does it matter? I find it doesn’t. I don’t feel strongly about being surrounded by things from a long time ago. I carried around my old notebooks from high school for years, they traveled with me through I don’t know how many apartments in how many states, until one day I decided, come on, and threw them all out without even looking inside to remind myself what they contained.

Should I feel bad? Should I regret throwing away or misplacing or willfully neglecting things I’ve done, things that were important to me, at some point?

My therapist would remind me that shoulds are my big cognitive distortion, and pretty much a Top 5 Fucked Up Things in my Brain that I Can’t Seem to Change. There are no universal shoulds. Why insist on believing things needs to be a certain way, if they resist being that way? Should statements lead to constant guilt, constant feelings of failure.

Problem: my entire life is a precariously-balanced Jenga pile of should statements.

Anyways it’s springtime on the internet, and this is a perfect example of the type of post that will get deleted forever, eventually.

we accumulated the most data during the times when we were happiest

One day I deactivate my social media accounts, for no one specific reason other than a growing accumulation of grief. This will just be until the end of the year, I think, but who can tell the years anymore. The calendar changes, maybe, but that’s it.

And every day since then I think: why don’t you just delete them entirely?

And I think:

  • but what if I regret it later
  • but you know it’s bad for you
  • but that’s where my friends are and without social idk what’s happening in their lives
  • but you still don’t really and it mainly just makes you want to buy things or feel bad about things
  • but everything makes me feel bad about things so shouldn’t I at least
  • but you know this is just an addiction
  • OK but what if my friends view my refusal to participate in social media as a referendum on their lives and life choices?
  • well I mean is it?
  • yeah but still
  • then they’re not really your friends?
  • they are as real friends as I am ever going to get locked up in this house?

Anyways. Other apps appear on my phone to take their place and some days it’s like I wake from a dream, slashing at tentacles, wildly deleting things off my phone. You haven’t really quit the thing if the thing you’re using to replace it is just as bad. And also why do I need four separate parking apps just to find parking in this city? But I do and that’s not my fault although I still internalize it as a failure.

Meanwhile, the wind and the rain pick up outside. It’s unclear if it’s safe to be out there or not. People get sick and sometimes they get better and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes people are just gone. Are they gone gone or just offline?

I watch minimum 5-6 hours of TV every day and absolutely delight in very second of it. There is nowhere else I would rather be.

Some days I think: when was the last time you updated your website, this is ridiculous. And then sometimes I think: my refusal to participate in a regular blogging schedule and content calendaring is a success of a kind. It is a thing to be proud of. Instead I just do what I normally do, which is worry a lot about everything while feeling nothing about anything.

The wind is so loud outside. I wish you could hear it.