when you had too much to think last night

There is too much. July hasn’t been much of a posting month, partly because of…well, reasons, but let’s try to take out the trash before July ends:

• Boris Johnson goes, far too late. On the bright side, the Tories are at least capable of realizing they made a mistake in ways the GOP is not. But now we will see how much they are in thrall to the ERG, the DUP and the alphabet soup of reactionary assholes intent on ruining the world if they can’t stay in charge forever.

• The real pain in the ass in all this is the DUP. They are holding Northern Ireland hostage to get results they could not obtain at the ballot box – and a coalition of Sinn Fein and non-sectarian parties is being kept from office because they are not willing to endure a world in which someone else has the upper hand. This plays perfectly into Tory hands, seeking to use Northern Ireland to extort from the EU what could not be had in negotiation and hold 25 years of the peace process hostage in hopes of achieving full cake-ism and a permanent back door into the EU. To be protected but not bound, while others are bound but not protected: it’s the definition of what it means to be a conservative in the 21st century.

• We’ve been a long time getting to this point. It really began in the 80s, when Reagan and Thatcher teamed up to say that there is no such thing as society, nothing we owe to other people, and it is perfectly all right to act as if such is the case. Forty years later, with no one having ever successfully pushed back against it, we now have an entire generation or two that has internalized this as the normal state of things, and a cohort of assholes pushing ever harder in the direction of “I must never be responsible to anyone ever.” To a large extent, the internet has made this worse, especially a generation whose parents weren’t online or were misguided enough to think that the internet wasn’t the real world. Meanwhile, “I don’t have to know or care there are other people” is the driving value system of America despite never seeming to have the most votes.

• I don’t have an answer, because there isn’t one. All there is any more is trying not to think too hard about it and desperately trying not to invite tomorrow’s trouble in before today. If there’s nothing you can do to stave it off, the best thing to do is save your powder, not soak in it, and preserve your strength and sanity until you can do something about it. Which was easier in July than in June, for obvious reasons, but it didn’t hurt that I had two major life incidents along the way. Of which.

What I wish Apple would Announce

“Announcements” ™ – an update to a selected Audience ™ of your contacts within the Messages app: can be pic, vid, gif, text, flight status, mood emoji, location check-in, anything from the stickers or iMessage apps – all in a separate scroll from text messages and group chats, in chronological order, without notifications.

Announcements are shared by default to an Audience you populate by choosing individuals and groups from your existing contacts. You then modify the Audience per post if required. E.g. – default Audience is BSW + Bastard Squad + The Kids + Rosa + Ray + Ashley; you can remove individuals or groups from specific Announcements when you post (Ray, BSW and Ashley might not be interested in Disneyland stuff, perhaps).

You can dip into your Announcement scroll whenever you like. Announcements are ephemeral and expire from the scroll in 48 hours by default (if you want more permanent communication, that’s what the texts and group chats are for).

In your contact list, each contact has a tick box for “Receive Announcements” – uncheck it and you will not see that person’s Announcements. There’s also a switch in Settings to turn your Announcement scroll on or off if you don’t want to receive any Announcements at all. Announcements appears as a circle with your favorited contacts in iMessage.

The only notification you ever receive is a one-time notice when someone adds you to their Audience. “XYZ would like you to receive their Announcements” at which point you pick Yes/No from the notification itself (you can change it in future in the contact card). You can add people to your Audience but are not told if they accepted or not. You don’t follow people; they offer to share.

The end result is that instead of texting the same thing to half a dozen people or groups that don’t overlap, you blast it to everyone you’d like to be able to see it and if they are interested, they can. Since it’s a feature within the app’s own architecture, it shares the same end to end encryption, and nothing is stored on a central server – it’s delivered and that’s an end of it.

What makes this an attractive prospect is that you can leverage the contacts you already have, in bulk. The group chat is still the most valid form of social networking, but you can’t combine all your groups into one big one because no one wants to be on a group chat with fifty people and the notifications are preposterous. Thus the scroll, which has no notifications and which you look at whenever you like. If it’s a must see, they’ll text you – this is ideal for the pictures of London you share in the moment while you’re there.

And here’s the thing: this has expanded beyond just Snapchat and Facebook’s properties. Twitter, Netflix, even LinkedIn – but most of all, if you look at the beta for the Android client for Signal, and turn on the correct flag, you can see the implementation of Stories ready to go. And this is huge – because you have the ability to do ephemeral blast communication to all of your contacts or at least as many as you want to, all end to end encrypted, from a program that is cross-platform, accessible from phone or desktop alike, and which is owned by a non-profit foundation rather than a corporation, and which has if anything a bigger middle finger up than Apple on the topic of privacy.

This, in short, might be what I’ve been moaning about for two years. And it might be the thing that prioritizes Signal over any other service (well, except for CarPlay texting while driving) – because at the end of the day, that sort of ephemeral blast content, if you can coax people into using it, would obviate the need for Insta and Twitter and at that point, I wouldn’t require anything else.

Something to think about.