Protected by a cadre of digital centaurs armed with various weapons boasting capabilities starting with a direct vaporization, the multitudinous causeways of TikTok are blurred by a resounding complexity and torrent of data barely following the laws of physics. Accessing the prohibited zones is as simple as signing away personal privacy to Beijing, on the other hand, getting out, while avoiding electronic purgatory is nearly impossible for the average mortal lacking in effective hacking techniques. What results is an extensive series of catacombs that transcend any community standards, or for that matter, the confines of fundamental morality, and is viable competition to the infamous and ominous dark web.
On the surface level realities hierarchy in the living and breathing environment of the physical world, perpetual twilight soothes the soul a mere six miles as the crow flies and a broad leap across the lake from Seattle and the now disbanded CHAZ and CHOP zones of enablement and rioters paradise. In the white collar tech wealth buffer zone of boutique restaurants and clubs, the moonlight ambiance of LED candles and cabernet accents of an intoxicating shadow world temporarily cancels out the cancelers, and in the brief moments of a necessary respite, life and eclectic corners of social media coalesce in beckoning transparency, if not intrigue.
Miss Irene lives a duality that is something out of the cyberpunk future shock science fiction genre. The affluent milieu is merely a stargate prop to her playground. By day and night she works as actuary, while during the shimmering effulgence of magic dust and Kabuki performances of pixelated smartphone apps she is building an empire. Deterred and averse to the blatant savagery of the dark web, she chose to spawn her venture on the Chinese-owned and government run social media destination TikTok over the dark web, an irony that is not lost an individual who assesses risks and rewards for a living, but that may soon change.
She utilizes the acronym of “MIR” to identify herself, as the pun shows an affinity for astronautics in roasting the ill-fated and allegedly decommissioned Russian space station disintegrating in the atmosphere, has already constructed the framework of a Tesla renaissance and appreciation society of plasma energy in the Red Light district of the TikTok platform. The underground nature of the pop-up 1990’s rave in a meat warehouse is facilitated without any specific terminology being mentioned in driving traffic and impressions through implications and innuendo, while the account or group remains strategically nomadic. The dark web is not the only game in town anymore, and the pesky social media algorithms embolden individuals to lead with their dreams and emotions, rather than logic.
Sipping her whisky, MIR cryptically describes her plan to promote the burgeoning consumer marketplace of magic love wands, derived from therapeutic massagers, for use in cosplay, interactive fantasy parties, and the mutual experience of sharing electricity. Not to be confused with a stun gun and possibly related illegal contraptions, the devices emit an electrical current, and she thumbs to a picture from her smartphone of a beautiful woman being zapped in the face by plasma arc emanating from a handheld device, or at least that is the reckless myth that she adheres to. One can envision crossing the substrate of hanging tethered translucent jumbo beads when entering her domicile, upon further inspection the glass globes are actually micro-aquarium habitats holding juvenile electric eels. Fantasy aside, while the marketing for mature themes is considerably more subtle than teenage one-upmanship challenges, adult social media users have crossed the threshold into a land that borders the egregious ingesting of Tide pods, no matter how it is packaged.
The existence of fringe communities based on flawed DIY philosophies dominate the underworld of TikTok and it is only a matter of time when people begin to be carted to the emergency room or God help them die in preventable accidents. The capability offered by the infrastructure to share videos covertly, and two or three layers under the stupid human pet tricks of the viral and vapid surface, attracts edgy butterflies dealing in risque, and similar to MIR’s influence, they have found solace in stowing away on a platform on the dime or yuan of the Chinese Communist party. Of course, having a comprehensive understanding of nuanced searches reveals a wealth of stunning results, as the lairs of mischief are technically not forcefully hidden, yet branded as delicately obscure.
While MIR’s vision of a pair or orgy of humans as conduits completing a circuit without actually touching as a non-hallucinogenic method of expanding one’s mind, the lack of practical knowledge and safety concerns is not only unsettling, but appalling and an indictment of the sciences banished to ghastly refugee camps. The depth of how far her endeavor is able to extend into the ecosystem of a domain that was designed simply to continuously collect data, and stripped of amenities and features will be a good indication, of how ingrained delusion has become with the instant gratification personality of the digital realm.
The working laboratory of constructing niche groups that promote and pedal various forms of interaction to augment reality has always been a dynamic part of the internet, but with gadgetry now intertwined with human behaviors, the outlook for the near future, while bleak, at least contains the possibility for some memorable streaming clips with fateful connotations. The plasma love wand might as well be a stun gun or a taser in literally incapacitating a love interest in taking fantasy role playing too far, but alas to the masses, if a stunt is distributed virally through an attenuated video, it must be true.
As officials in Beijing thrilled are with the initial results of their societal engineering project in pushing the Western world towards a colossal implosion, at least in terms of damaging cultural morale, constructing a system of shared beliefs based on fleeting credibility and urban legends leaves the dark web on the outside looking in. MIR’s fascinating journey, though bound end in tragedy, is at least plausibly accessible through mainstream channels, if one is willing to accept the “Terms and Conditions” of the Chinese government, if the dark web does not engulf her first.