Here are just a few things that have changed – and not for the better – in recent years.
1. Tumblr. It used to be, consistently, the hottest place on the internet. Now? Does it even exist?
2. Tinder. For a few years there, Tinder was very effective at enabling rewarding connections between me and women who were happy to find me. Today? It’s (at least for me) a cesspool of bots and spam and sex workers. Not that there’s anything wrong with sex workers. But they aren’t what I seek. Any more.
3. Google Inbox. It’s gone. It was a great loss for me, one I mourn every day, months after it was killed.
4. Sex. Trump has transformed the sexual landscape into a decadent – and difficult – way of spending time between bouts of moral outrage, horrified and compulsive news-following, and political action. It’s impossible to be aroused when I don’t feel safe, and under Trump, I don’t feel safe. (N.B. I’m a privileged straight white man. Of all the people whom Trump threatens, I’m among least threatened. I know this. And still: I don’t feel safe.)
5. Travel. In my teens and twenties, I cashed in my American privilege mightily, traveling far and wide, broadening my horizons and stapling extra pages into my passport. I don’t know that I could count the number of countries I visited in those years. Today, I wouldn’t feel safe in many of them. This trend began under George W. Bush, who, though his Islamophobia pales in comparison to that of the orange man, did more to make the world a dangerous place than any president before him. Or since, I think. But give the orange man time, I fear….
6. The Earth. Obvs.
7. Human connection and presence in the moment. Phones are wonderful. I’m not a curmudgeon who longs for the days before smart phones. But I mourn the sense of terror I feel when briefly separated from my phone in a strange place. And the loss of connection to strangers our collective addiction to phones has engendered. Even as I’m grateful for the ways in which those same devices have facilitated greater connection and intimacy at the same time.
8. Sex work. Our puritanical, clumsy, and crude attempts to fight sex trafficking have made it much harder for sex workers to ply their trade safely and profitably. Craiglist’s sex pages, Backpage, may well have facilitated some trafficking of unwilling people. I don’t know (though my gut tells me they never had much of an impact on the global volume of such trafficking, and neither did their elimination). But I do know that they also were tremendous enablers of certain kinds of commercial sexual interactions. Their demise represents a loss.
9. Most devastating to me: this blog. It used to be a place of rapturous joy for me. A refuge. It was exciting, fun, interesting, energizing. It was a venue for my expression, my self-discovery. A tool of seduction. It’s not even a pale shadow of what it once was. It’s something else entirely, today.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s lots that is better. But, today, I’m feeling down.