I Left My Social Network in San Francisco

A few weeks ago, I was out at a bar with a member of my new San Francisco team. I was intending to meet a friend from high school. Instead I ran into about three other friends I have in the city.

The serendipity of this is not an isolated incident. My trips to the bay involve a continual stumbling along the corporeal export of my social graph. The feeling of a small/big town born of the flattening of what it means to be a “friend” through digital communications.

That evening I talked a lot. I find myself talking a lot up in San Francisco, much more do than I do in Los Angeles, and it got me thinking about why.

Los Angeles appeals to an aspect of me that has an interest into the ways in which the proliferation of mass culture historically serves to frame how we recollect time, space, people and things. Los Angeles is rooted within a framework of memory that is constructed by a shared and acknowledged fiction. We process our lives through recollection colored by culture and informed by consumption, rarely extending our perceptions along any causal chains longer than the near past. It is a town which constantly removes age in favor for a recurrent and cyclic “nowness.”

I find it tedious, and it makes me an unpleasant person at times, and distinctly antisocial.

San Francisco then.

I like causality and the complexity inherent in the tracing of such. I like understanding how two seemingly disparate things inform each other. I believe that given long enough time spans, everything is deterministic, and thus nothing happens for no reason. You can always trace a root cause for any given assumption or situation.

The people I know in San Francisco, and the company I keep isn’t so dissimilar to Los Angeles, but the town has a sense of operating under the collective shadow of acknowledged and yet unknowable fact, as opposed to the omnipresent fiction. This manifests itself (in my mind) through a constant deferment of explanation toward more questioning. The constant hunt for the answer of “why” in the presence of both the known and unknown.

There is a sense of restlessness. Discontent and impatience with all current states, coupled with an intense desire to always know what is lurking around every upcoming corner. Conversations are never rooted in the here and now, but always the speculation of what will happen.

It is odd San Francisco, a city so steeped in history, is so intent on constantly reinventing that history in which it resides. While the city to the south, with no acknowledged history, constantly recreates the same one, time and time again.

I like the validity of the present and the realness of the future.

I get that in a city I don’t live in. I get that coupled with a graph made real through the constant desire for change and movement.

In Los Angeles I am me. In San Francisco I am the avatar of me made real.

This is something I’ll have to reconcile over time.


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