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To all who taste the cynic’s bitter draft, and instead choose hope.

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“It looks like this is your first time visiting us,” she said. “Go on in, but have a care. Some people find it”—she waggled her head to convey equivocation—“disorienting.”

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When facts won’t do, good lobbyists lie. He held up a thick finger and smiled through his beard. Great lobbyists are like novelists, they use lies to tell a deeper truth.

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He handed over a shot, which Dag accepted reluctantly, then raised his own. “To survival,” he said in his thin, reedy voice. “If you can’t beat ’em, outlive ’em.” “I’ll drink to that,” said Dag.

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He was nothing. A short-lived speck on a meaningless rock orbiting an insignificant star in a forgotten galaxy in a universe bound by the unflinching laws of thermodynamics to descend into ultimate heat death.

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Harold and the Purple Crayon.

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The scheme was nefarious and beautiful. Nudging decision makers in the right direction by having teams of psychologists personally curate their digital experiences. “And they don’t even realize it’s happening,”

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Maybe this was the natural way of things. Career nonprofit staff spiraled into cynicism as they faced the futility of so many failed social-impact projects while savvy lobbyists discovered idealism like divorcées falling back in love.

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“They say there are only hundreds left.” Her voice was a low growl with a Korean lilt. “Haunting the northernmost villages of the Arctic nations like angry ghosts. There’s something romantic about that, the tragedy of living out the last days of your entire species. But what do I say? I say, whistle while the world burns, Mr. Calhoun.” She held out a hand. “Will you help me fuck the pain away?”

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They also exaggerated reactions to anything you engage with. For example, you shared a National Geographic story a year or so ago, and they ensured it was reshared many times over. Whereas when you posted professional advice for new lobbyists, they muffled the response. My statistician friend says they’re harnessing the power of social validation to reinforce a certain worldview. It’s like gardening, only they’re cultivating ideology. Clever as fuck, if you ask me.”

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No. Stop that. Stay focused. Make it to the next moment, and then the one after that.

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If we are the stories we tell ourselves, what happens when someone else controls the narrative?

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Oh, and remember that in an age of acceleration, contemplation is power. The feed can only define you if you let it.

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Onward and upward.   Cheers, Eliot