It’s about 1040am. I’m in view of a TV. Rahm Emmanuel is on the TV talking about Prosecutorial Discretion and Smollet Case. I try to remember what the Smollet case was about; oh right…a popular gay male black actor allegedly gets roughed up by MAGA thugs. Only later, amid the outcry from the left against the right, the CPD arrests Smollet and accuses him of staging the whole thing, of hiring the thugs who beat him up. The Right cheers and for four days owns the screens we all look at.
And so there I was at 1040am and I’m watching Emmanuel tell the people of the Windy City why the DA’s decision is bad and wrong, an outrage. I wonder which cohort he’s speaking to more; but give up because the inter-sectional deception of the story playing out before me blurs the once clear Venn Diagram in my head. Which may be a Good Thing, I grant you. A confusing thing, but a Good Thing because it challenges me to noodle harder, and it is by noodling through the difficult affairs of the public that I learn & move forward.
So I study the faces of the assembled officials and mute Emmanuel’s confusing words in my mind. I look at the CPD chief who is wide-eyed and looks terrified. It’s the first time I’ve seen his face though; I could be wrong, but that’s my read of his body language.
That’s ok. I’m scared too. The Beltway Expert Pundits call what I’m seeing on my screen the “nationalization of our politics” which, I reckon, is pretty accurate, and moreover is probably a great thing for those whom haven’t had as much power as I have had in the public places of our society. So I’m happy for them because it’s helped me meet lots of folks I’d never have met before, to read them, to learn from them, to take their politics and add them to mine, if they’ll let me.
But it’s still scary.
It’s scary because the Finance Engineers & the Software Engineers are working together now and they own the screens, which is effectively like owning the media. So they control what we see. In effect, they’ve captured our politics too. Worse yet, the screens are two way. There’s interaction. It’s no longer just me looking at the CPD Chief, there’s a wizard in between my eyes & the CPD chief, and the wizard is counting my likes, discerning my intent, measuring my engagement, and plotting A/B tests on me. And it’s scary because the nationalization & capture of our politics happens locally in our homes & communities, the places we don’t talk much about anymore since we’re all looking at Chicago right now.
So it’s all a bit confusing, but like I said, there’s light in the screen, and it’s you and your politics, you and your openness to advocating for yourself and your loved ones.
But then, as I’m walking away from the screen, the alert sounds. That hated dreadful alert. That signal of doom. The sound made just before the Sword of Damocles falls. The thing that’s frightened me since childhood that occasionally wakes me up in a cold sweat.
BUZZ BUZZ and next the scrolling red banner
this is a test of the emergency broadcast system for Los Angeles County