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20 Jun

Well, well, well… how the turntables.

We started with the internet.

  • Suddenly, the whole world was at your fingertips. It was almost like the concept of distance didn't exist.
  • We moved away from the tyranny of pen and paper. Now, you could endlessly edit your documents. There was no real document there, just an infinitely mutable interface where you could log your ideas, till you changed them.
  • There were movies available for download. Going to theatres and events was now reserved for very special occasions. With screens everywhere, the whole world became a giant theatre.
  • Snapchat introduced ephemeral media, with photos and videos that got deleted as soon as you saw them. Suddenly, there were so many of them, but none of them ever really existed.
  • Space got mutable with Zoom, now every place could be your office. Offices themselves started meaning less.
  • Identities turned into digital abstractions on social media; charicatures that could be described with a few common tropes, a.k.a. starter packs. They come at the expense of our humanity. Real people got reduced to some content in an infinite scroll.
  • We got memes — infinitely mutable and everchanging pieces of content that went viral due to their meta-truth: their relatability and applicability under thousands of different contexts. There was no individuality or "authenticity"; everyone could now share the same meme and relate to it in their own unique way.
  • Apple introduced memojis. You were now reduced to a digital animated avatar that could be inserted into any digital space. They've now also introduced the ability to edit your DMs. So even your DMs now will be infinitely mutable.
  • Google now allows you to delete objects from photographs. Apple also now allows you to pick objects from photographs and place them anywhere, including your iMessages. A photograph isn't a static object and timeless snapshot of memory anymore. It is infinitely mutable.
  • Dall-E generates visuals that stand toe-to-toe with the best artists. GPT-3 generates copy that is sometimes indistinguishable from human writing. Engineers are getting confused if AIs are turning sentient. We don't know what it means to be human anymore.
  • Money is digital and liquid. A portfolio of $100mn can go to zero within the span of a few days.

Nothing is real anymore.

  • Everything is ironic. Everything is content. Everything is signalling. People can spot an ad coming from a mile away.
  • Advertising has taken two distinct forms: 1. Ads that don't look like ads, and 2. Ads that are so absurd and shocking that they stop your scroll. It's called the “Pattern Interrupt Strategy.” Look it up.
  • Hype cycles are getting shorter. We forget too quickly. And our identity is the summation of all our memories. If we forget too quickly, there is no firmly rooted identity to stick to. Identities, like memes, have become ephemeral and mutable — everchanging and evolving with the latest trending meme.
  • There is no psychological stability. Mental health issues are increasing and people are feeling increasingly disconnected. When you have so much of everything, nothing means anything anymore. True meaning-making is difficult when you're drifting aimlessly in an ocean of supplied meanings.
  • Youngsters increasingly talk about exhaustion, death, and dying in an ironic way. Everyone is turning nihilistic.

We need something we can touch and feel and hold. We need something real.

  • Edtech companies are starting offline branches.
  • D2C companies are moving back to retail.
  • Rent is the new CAC.
  • Curated bundles are back. Newsletters are tightly curated newspapers.
  • Offline gatherings and meetups are starting to get popular.
  • People are realising the power of friends and communities.
  • Being religious and having rituals is cool again.
  • Buying real estate is hip — when the internet has infinite real estate, it doesn’t mean anything anymore. You now desire to buy real physical space that you can actually call yours. No, NFTs aren’t cutting it.
  • People have started appreciating friction and struggle that is meaningful.
  • They have started working out of offices again.

We've had too many choices that led to analysis paralysis.

When optionality becomes abundant, clarity becomes essential.

The tables are turning.

The cycles are flipping.

We are slowly returning back to a world of timelessness and immutability.

We are back to taking refuge in the security of physical spaces and people.

We are returning to our roots.

We are coming back home.

But a lot more technologically advanced this time.

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