#74, stay open to contradictions and power #offline

April 1, 2017

On March 30 and 31, I made good on my 2nd pledge @50: “to share this project, for its final #50hardtruths, through a one-to-one, person-to-person effort (via email or IRL), thereby connecting my truths to a person, or people, who I know, or who I can see and talk to, and who might truly want, need, or use it (otherwise why would they be there?) I will ask them to do the same.” I gave two live talks about the project (still in process! I’m only at #74, I have a month more to go …) The first presentation was held at Recess‘s Public Opinion Laboratory about fake news, Faked/Out, organized by Adam Lambert and held at his “office and operational hub,” Fake Out News Incorporated (FONI). Then the next day I spoke about the project at the CUNY at the Crossroads: Diversity and Intersectionality in Action Conference. As I had hoped, the project transformed #offline.

“12 skeptics enter a room … ” (a #100hardtruths by Moira Tierney. It is the first of several shared with me by the twelve FONI correspondents who engaged with me on March 30, some of whom are pictured below. My attempt to bundle their #100hardtruths-#fakenews in the post that follows also honors of one of my own: “Our usually small, succinct online one-offs become more culturally and politically productive when bundled, and even better, when used purposefully towards stated goals.”)

Some skeptics @FONI

At the end of my presentation about the project, I asked the attendees, “can we be here together beyond proto-being?” My question honored the possible intersections of Lambert’s more idealistic hopes for FONI with my own more bleak findings about my experiences working on the project online and within social media, and my linked hopes for its possible real-world connections.

Adam Lambert introduces FONI

Lambert explains:

“FONI [is a] a news service very much concocted for the present moment. Rather than go on the attack and decry the fake as a malice, this project operates from the premise that fakeness and fake news can provide an optimistic space for wish fulfillment and self-actualization. Facts must always be interpreted, and they beg to be questioned. Alternative facts and alternative fictions are possible daydream spaces that might serve as portals to hopeful futures and unobtainable realities. Why subscribe to false agendas when we can make our own? And finally: Does accepting fake news as a given rather than a problem provide us with the impetus we need create the world we want?”

And I wrote this as part of #100hardtruths #55, choose to be digitally productive rather than reactive:

“Having this place for expression, ‘audience,’ friends, interaction, validation, non-validation, the production and consumption of knowledge and culture, feels like something. It’s not a nothing. Yet, I know it is a sorry substitute for the building, engaged, place-based, interactions that sustain me and other people and movements. I have often called it (the production, movement, and connecting to and through well-made digital words and images) proto-political, a step toward well-being and world-changing but not those things themselves. But here I’ll go farther, and name it is a kind of proto-being, a half-life pointing to great possibility. Thus, the real use and value of producing internet content is the potentiality written into words and images and their reception: mine, yours, and ours.”

one #100hardtruths drawn by Jeanne Liotta

“12 skeptics enter a room … ” and two hours later expressed these sentiments about #fakenews, and many more, unrecorded, maybe remembered, and certainly encountered:

  • there is more face to face interaction, more organizing and protest, right now in NYC, than there has been in many years, perhaps since the 1960s and 1970s. This follows a period of particular quiet (outside of Occupy). From Sherry Millner and Ernest Larsen
  • ever more skeptical of the internet and its media (social and mainstream), ever more isolated, we seek and understand the power, draw, and possibilities of the face-to-face (the 12 skeptics.)
  • “Tiffany Trump is dating a democrat.” Chloe Jones and Tony Christian
  • the composition of one’s online tone via what one posts versus what one reads is exhausting, deceptive, and also leads to possibilities of disruption, if you step outside your tone in a moment of crisis. From Ali Burstein and Alexa Smithwrick
  • the perception and declaration of this as a crisis reveals deep deceptions. Most of the world suffers tyrants and their abuses of truth and media, and here in the US, there has long been mystification. From Masaha Godovannaya and others
  • there is something refreshing and also horrible in the Trump administration’s bald honesty about its brutality, greed, and violence. Nilita Vachani and Masaha Godovannaya
  • Non-digital technologies—newspapers, clocks—allow for visions, frameworks, juxtapositions, multiplicities of temporarlity that are somehow harder to find in digital spaces. Jeanne Liotta and Moira Tierney
  • Many young people get their news from WorldStarHipHop. From Ernest Larsen.
  • Recently “science” became a blue state truth, and stopped requiring skepticism. Alexa Smithwrick
  • Engaging offline allows for a physical distance between what you say and what you hear. It allows you to listen. Masaha Godovannaya
  • In the 1960s, leftists got their news from Liberation News Service, the Village Voice, at the time a local paper, and alternative media sources. The mainstream media was dominant, and few others had access to making news.
  • The twelve skeptics in the room get their news from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Democracy Now, NPR, Fox News, The Guardian, longer-form journalism via magazines, and through their Facebook and Twitter feeds. They are often doing something else while reading it.
  • Skepticism and mistrust are the dominant modalities of perception for this time. We hunger excavations of deeper truths through scholarship, art making, investigative journalism and the honoring and depiction of our own subjective truths (the 12 skeptics).

This bundle of #100hardtruths does not sit or work well here; does not do the experience justice. Affect flees; complexity flattens. As we “work towards qualities of principled encounter or use over quantities of bogus reception for our internet expression” (another of my more recent #100hardtruths) by engaging together in thinking about social media in real life, we must gracefully accept that these encounters will refuse to be sharable or representable in the languages of social media even as and because they are so inter-subjectively true.

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