The highest order readers among us may have noticed that our web3 takes, flip-flop more than my hippie mother on her biannual Hawaiian sabbaticals. Most weeks I consider the blockchain to a modern incarnation of Biblical plagues, though some rare weeks conversations with el Prof assure me that it’ll be the future of individual sovereignty and self governance, until reality inevitably seeps in again.
Now, to be fair, it is intellectual best practice to be constantly interrogating your own views – admitting your mistakes when you realize them, taking accountability for your own confirmation bias, and allowing it to be bested by a better argument. Which is sometimes what I’m doing, probably, sure. But mostly (if I’m being honest, taking accountability, and admitting my mistakes) I’m playing what I like to call the Position Game.
Presently our online identities are primarily made up of personal preferences and values as displayed through the aesthetics and emojis the litter the biographies and feeds of our social profiles. We like to think these things cement our individuality. When we leave a string of Spotify links in our Instagram stories, or offer unsolicited opinions in a celebrity’s mentions, telling ourselves: I have a perspective and it is unique to me.
However the world often reads the story differently, or more correctly the same on average. If we wanted to come across as truly unique, our bios would be like, ‘I loofah my feet for twenty minutes when I shower’ and ‘Samsung Sam stars in my sexual fantasies’. It’d go a long way toward our transparent future if they were, I’d argue. But they are not. Because, well you read what I just wrote, who’d admit to that shit.
I believe our opinions and preferences – especially when voiced loudly and publicly – are used to position ourselves in contrast to others. For example, if my bio says, ‘.eth | #feelthebern | Rickest Rick’, I’m saying as much about what I’m not as what I am.
It’s especially pronounced in social media discourse.
Why else take the time to tweet out in-depth replies destined for one or two likes, or even just type out ‘I agree’? I doubt most of us truly believe we’re contributing to some sort of global conversation, or getting meaningful attention from some high profile, verified consciousness stream from which our opinions are derived. We’re just putting together an identity who loves the right things and hates the wrong ones, piece by binary piece. I call this the Position Game.
I, personally, play it all the time. My research for this newsletter consists mainly of scrolling through a somewhat curated Twitter feed of hexagonal profile pictures with a few thousand followers. (Which, lifehack, is the primary source of most web3 news.) Every time I find a story that interests me, I spend time assessing where I stand on their take — totally agree, strongly disagree, somewhat fuck with the featured image, etc. — because I’m also immediately need to calculate how it fits into my identity. I’m never just reading about a subject or writing about it. I’m evaluating everyone else’s positions on it to present my own.
Whether it’s a symptom of an oversaturated content cycle, our narcissistic culture, or my crippling OCD, doesn’t even really matter, I don’t think. All I know is, it’s fucking exhausting. One day, I’ll learn to put down my chess piece and opt out of the Position Game. Until then, I’m stuck trying to win it, which doesn’t even seem to be the point, given the rules I know so far. But at least the rest of the players seem to be catching on, if the taxonomy memes in my timeline are anything to go off:
And, big picture, I’m pretty sure being the Deleter isn’t the worst outcome.