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.
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.
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.