I imagine a web developer tasked with writing the code which keeps track of how many times one visits—in the same browser, from the same I.P. address—The New York Times, 10 “free” articles being their limit in any given month, pairing up with the marketing executive who came up with a perfect sentence to both ingratiate and solicit themselves to the reader in a pop-up subscription ad. Short of “look[ing] like someone who appreciates a good story,” I possess the countenance of a deflated consumer who only wonders why the advertising revenue (e.g. from Marc Jacobs, State Farm, etc.) is not enough, why—in the name of journalism and human knowledge at large—they don’t relinquish their fodder to the common good. Of their austere “The Gray Lady” nickname, which references their historically high ratio of copy to graphics, perhaps they felt, and still believe, that a if a picture indeed paints a 1,000 words, then all the more reason to write 6,000 (that’s 6 pristine pictures, about 1/5th of a BuzzFeed “article,” on which I chronically click hoping to smiley emoji). The Death of Content finds its elegy in categories lol, wtf, and omg, as if each of us, in our spiritual asthma, were so short of breath that we had to abridge our simplest feelings into tags. To open Proust or Tolstoy, their mildewy spines cracking, spread open as naïve legs, is a kind of inverse rape. We surrender our lustful power to their boredoms, the lonely mind of endless reading. If click bait is a bird of paradise screeching for its lover, maybe I do need a good story. Implicitly, in complicity, the promise of tragedy.
There are four people in my vicinity at this cafe who all have MacBooks. I shall describe them herein: (1) probable graphic designer, caucasian male in his mid-30s with male pattern balding; prefers the ergonomic wireless mouse that he discreetly placed on the table, touching it at the exact moments necessary; wearing a Keffiyeh, suggesting either allegiance to the Palestinian liberation movement, or generically anarchist; definitely heterosexual, given a fixated male gaze applied on the buttocks of various attractive female patrons; (2) African-American woman with advanced degree(s) and straightened hair — perhaps criticized as “being white” by those in her race — with Banksy sticker of protester oriented to look like he’s throwing the apple icon (as opposed to flowers, itself a reappropriation) deftly touching trackpad, seemingly unfazed by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” being played at this very moment; (3) caucasian woman wearing moccasins, tight jeans, and 1.5 carat engagement ring on implicated finger, a Burt’s Bees lip balm balanced upright next to laptop, maybe used compulsively, her lips now reliant on its moisture and not making its natural oils (this is called addiction), tending to her Gmail inbox; (4) blond caucasian woman with summer dress, of floral pattern, likely purchased at Anthropologie (a “bohemian chic” branch of Urban Outfitters, Inc. marketed to women who want to seem more laid back than they are) on Facebook looking at a set of photos of women at a bar smiling behind the cocktails they are showing the camera, its sudden unflattering flash rendering them non-Tinderable, that is, ghostlike and slightly demented looking.