Today’s World


There’s always stimulation at your fingertips, whether it be Netflix streaming on demand or books delivered wirelessly to your tablet. We always wondered what it was like living in the pre-TV era, never mind the 1800s, when there were vast stretches of emptiness in your day. Now we marvel at the last half of the twentieth century, when we thought we were so up to date and so busy, not knowing what the internet would bring.


Music was the leader. Now it’s information. Used to be if you were into a subject you just couldn’t get enough, whether it was a mainstream topic or something purely niche. Now you can go deep into your niche for hours every day. Instead of wanting more, you’re not sure when to stop, when you’re sacrificing your life for your passion. Do you need to know everything? Can you know everything? And then you go to a party and realize you know nothing.


Remember when the internet was going to eradicate personal contact? When we were all going to be lonely automatons sitting in front of a screen? Well, we hear from seemingly everybody we ever knew in our lives on a regular basis. Whether it be text/iMessage or e-mail or FaceTime/Skype or Facebook… We were lonely too long, and now we’re not.


Used to be you needed to be anointed by a gatekeeper, a record label, radio station or TV outlet. Now you just need to decide you’re someone worth knowing about and begin posting all over the internet. The messages keep getting shorter. We went from blogs to Instagram, but people have a desire to be known, accepted and admired. The ceiling is incredibly low, the odds of breaking through your friend circle are tiny, but people keep trying.


Remember when Bruce Springsteen claimed there were 57 channels and nothing on? Now there are unlimited channels, I keep hearing about cable outlets I didn’t even know existed, like ION, and we’ve got whole networks that live online, like Crackle. If you can’t find something to watch, you don’t have eyes.


With minimal communication avenues, very few people made it through the sieve, and when they did everybody knew their name, and usually their work. Now even youngsters don’t know who the people are in “People.”


Played best by the Kardashians. Who realize it’s not about content, but persistence. If you need to be famous, ply your trade each and every day. He who deigns to participate occasionally is destined for obscurity. Make music constantly. Communicate constantly. If you only do one thing, however great or important or outrageous, it will be forgotten by the next day, or soon thereafter.


We’re loyal to each other, not the platform. We go where everybody goes. So we can leave not only AOL behind, but MySpace. Twitter’s already in the rearview mirror. Gaining an audience and keeping it is nearly impossible for a platform, unless it keeps evolving. Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp. Yahoo floundered and just added content to the same old paradigm and failed. This is not the old days, when you got a radio or TV license and you could just print money, seemingly eternally. Now, despite so many internet plays losing money in the advent, the key is to make money quickly, because odds are your time will soon be done, it’s the way of the web/world.


With so much online, with the difficulty of breaking through the clutter, those in charge of the purse strings don’t want to take risks, they want it safe. Which is why movies are high concept drivel made to play to young people around the world and why music is the same too. But what we know is all art is a fad, to be replaced with something new. But distribution is forever. So, unless there is a new distribution platform, the goal of the outsider is to get the ear of he or she who controls distribution to get them to take a chance when the tables turn.


Read yesterday’s “Wall Street Journal” about the future of automobiles: You’re gonna rent ’em, on demand. A pickup for a move and a Mercedes for a date. And they’re gonna show up without drivers, today’s Uber is just a way station. There is a need for keepsakes, people want to own souvenirs, but that’s what assets have become. This will cause a great leavening of society, when the rich realize their possessions are meaningless, everybody else can get the same experience on a whim. Assuming you can afford it. Income inequality is the issue of our day. And the more the rich keep flaunting their lifestyles, the more people see them online, the sharper the dividing line becomes. Either we fix this problem or America fades. Don’t take my word for it, look at history, the greater the inequality the worse the economy, because it’s the average person who buys the products and keeps the company alive. If you don’t feel inadequate and frustrated seeing how others live online, you’re not surfing. If the rich were smart they’d hide their lifestyles, but they’re looking for adulation and acceptance, its the human condition.


Most people don’t know late round investors get protected against losses when the company goes public and they don’t know you have a better chance of upward mobility in Europe. The irony is the more information we have, the more ignorant people become. And they’re susceptible to scams and misinformation, because they don’t want to believe things are as bad as they seem…they want to believe there’s an out.


With everything available, we gravitate to very few. And you may disagree with the picks, but you’re swimming against the tide. The twenty first century is about dominance. You own your sphere online, a superstar ballplayer makes eight figures a year. If you’re not reaching for the brass ring, you’re being left behind. We only have room for a few good men and women. Scratch that, a few GREAT men and women.


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  1. tigerlilac commented on Dec 12

    Time and distance are not what they use to be.

  2. VennData commented on Dec 12

    Another fabulous cultural synopsis.

    What is “break through” your circle of friends?

    But America won’t fade because of inequality. We thrive on inequality and always have. Mr. Lower Class’s genes won’t make it into the next generation to be bequethed to his lumpen progeny. Don’t think so? introduce yourself to a few young ladies at the local coffee shop and tell them you can’t compete, can’t win, aren’t heoric. Good luck.

    America (sad or not this is a synopsis, not a moral stance) dispenses and disposes. Modern times move even faster so we have a million seventy year old dudes in USS Ronald Reagan navy blue embroidered ballcaps watching Fox News loving Trump when he wants to put a big middle finger if the statue of Liberty.

    Those guys would not be around without our health care investments. So it will be harder, but America dies off best, Heck we’ll invade Syria to get our share of their carnage.

    China tried building whole cities. Good luck chairman!

    America loves inequality, our economy, egos, and everything depends on it. We make it impossible for the uncompetitive and incompetent. Meritocratic Facsism.

  3. hoopsjunkie commented on Dec 13

    I strongly do not agree at all that you have “more upward mobility in Europe”. Where are you getting that from? I have experienced a lot of different job markets, have friends around the world, travel the world often, and I think you BY FAR have the most opportunity for upward mobility and to better your standard of living in the U.S. Not even close.

  4. Jojo commented on Dec 13

    I’ve been watching the Palladia channel on cable (Comcast 783 for me) lately, which seems to be made up of young, popular music artists playing at big festival events.

    One thing I notice as the camera switches to the audience (besides wishing that I were 21 again) is how so many in the audience are singing each song along with the performer. They know all the words and seem to like to sing it also.

    I went to a lot of concerts back in the 70’s but I don’t recall the audiences generally singing along (except maybe with the Grateful Dead). Maybe because the songs then weren’t as singable as there was a lot more instrumental work? Or maybe everyone was too wiped out?

    Does this mean anything? Unsure but I find it interesting.

  5. Robert M commented on Dec 14

    Bob you just jumped the shark w/ this sentence,’We always wondered what it was like living in the pre-TV era, never mind the 1800s, when there were vast stretches of emptiness in your day. ”
    There were no empty stretches or emptiness. Most well rounded people participated in far more social experiences w/ human being than you imagine. The very best had personal skills that gave them a great deal of pleasure regardless of how imagitive they performed them; playing a musical instrument, knitting, carpentry.
    The empty have emptiness. While Jobs is right people don’t often know what they want, self forcing yourself into “substance”by following the algo isn’t giving them it either. Its called soma.

Read this next.

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