Your EXTREMELY ONLINE holiday gift guide
2023's unfair snark-fest
People aren’t really people anymore, as became abundantly clear in 2023. They’re more like little changeable internet archetypes. And this holiday it’s time to lean into that. Don’t shop for people—shop for internet archetypes! It’s surprisingly easy, and makes life simpler for the person who matters: you. So here’s a last-minute 100%-serious-definitely-not-joking gift guide to find that special something for the archetype in your life. Starting with:
Gifts for the overly political!
Yes, there’s real life, in which people get sick and die, and in which tragedies strike and triumphs occur, and which concerns mostly personal choices, mistakes, and recoveries. But there’s also politics! Have you heard about politics? Well, these people certainly have, because it’s all they think about. What’s the crisis today? It’s important, you say?
“Just one more bill bro, just one more, I swear I can fix it bro, just let’s pass this one bill, it’ll change everything, just one more bill bro I swear it.”
What to get such people for a gift? You cannot get them what they really want, which is half the voting population mysteriously vanishing overnight. But barring this personal rapture, you can get them a book instead! Preferably a book that triggers a subtle cognitive dissonance that eventually collapses their world models with large thunder.
As a gift for those who spout only right-wing talking points, it’s easy to recommend Donald Trump’s The America We Deserve, from 2000, in which he sketches out his first presidential run platform, which includes an argument for… universal health care? Increased taxes on individuals and trusts worth more than 10 million? What?
For those who only spout left-wing talking points, how about Elizabeth Warren’s 2003 The Two-Income Trap?
In it Warren argues the standard radical left position that… feminism led to women entering the workplace and this in turn led to downward pressure on everyone’s wages? And consequently, the fate of modern women is now to be locked into the nigh-impossible position of being both one of the primary breadwinners while simultaneously being the primary caretaker of the family? What?
Give the greatest gift this holiday season: negative capability!
Gifts for AI doomers!
Ever since philosopher Nick Bostrom conceived of a paperclip maximizer (a hypothetical AI tasked with paperclip production that ends up transforming the entire Earth), avoiding getting “paperclipped” has been the primary concern of AI doomers.
Since they must be ever vigilant of being turned into paperclips, for the AI doomer in your life, it’s worth working paperclip iconography into presents. The wrapping paper? Paperclip themed. Inside? Maybe a cute T-shirt with Andy-Warhol-style paperclip art. If you want to go all out, consider this 14k gold paperclip chain from BabyGold.
The youth wear gold chains on Twitch, so a fancy chain like that also has the benefit of being hip, cool, down with the kids. The head AI doomer, Eliezer Yudkowsky, would look especially fetching in such a beautiful reminder of our final, ironic, frozen form.
Gifts for e/accs!
The opposite of AI doomers are the online niche who want to accelerate progress toward our merger with a machine god, or possibly our extinction as we are replaced by our digital “descendants.” It’s unclear. As Business Insider describes the movement:
The basic idea of the philosophy is this: in a technological age, the powers of innovation and capitalism should be exploited to their extremes to drive radical social change—even if that means completely upending today's social order.
A nice anime body pillow is perfect for the e/acc in your life. Here’s a pillow from Japan that murmurs sweet electronic nothings to you as you sleep. It sort of like those beetles in Australia that kill themselves trying to mate with brown beer bottles left out in the sun because the bottles are superstimuli—a butt so big, so brown, so round! And this pillow, just the same—so waifu! Eventually the accelerationists will achieve their goal of Velveteen Rabbit-ing anime body pillows into being “real girls” if they can just… “accelerate”… faster! And with more friction!
Gifts for “lit bros” who only like David Foster Wallace!
Normally for this particular archetype it’d be easy to recommend a book by one of those “female authors” (as they would presumably say), but, ah, actually the lit bro archetype vanished in the last decade. No one has seen confirmed proof in years, although there are still lots of rumors, rare sightings in New York, as if a lone White Rhino had been spotted leaving The Strand, its glasses perched on its nose, its peat coat blowing behind it, clutching a stack of Mailer and Wallace and Roth. Yet such sightings are somehow always insubstantial, passing, things a friend of a friend saw. Literary culture’s elusive cryptid…
Gifts for Georgists!
A niche within a niche, the Georgist movement (those who believe that there should be a land value tax) is growing. Mostly among non-homeowners, presumably. According to The New York Times last month:
If you’ve ever played Monopoly, you have been unwittingly George-pilled: A Henry George fan invented the board game, in hopes of spreading his teachings… But amid a continuing crisis in affordable housing, a generation of young professionals has burrowed into housing policy, and gotten interested…
If you have a budding Georgist in your life, a bottle of Laphroaig scotch would be perfect.
Not only is it one of the best scotches in the world, but the bottles come with automatic access to an honorary square foot of Islay, where the purchaser’s name is listed and a little flag planted for them.
The fact that their new unwanted little parcel of land will sit untaxed, and that they’ve had a tiny flag planted in their name onto the monopoly board of life, will slowly drive your favorite Georgist to the brink of insanity.
Gifts for rationalists!
As described by New York Magazine, rationalists are
a community formed on the internet whose adherents strove to strip their minds of cognitive biases and subject all spheres of life to the glare of scientific thought and probabilistic reasoning.
What to get the rationalist in your life?
We must look to the heart of rationalism. For what has ultimately made it so attractive is because it’s about self-help. And on the internet self-help is extremely popular. We have self-help for fitness, and dating, and productivity hacks, and how to optimize your sleep and invest in better stocks, along with all the concomitant influencers selling stuff, er, guiding us. Similarly, rationalism is self-help for being smarter. Presumably, some group of people somewhere, sometime in history, set about accomplishing their ends irrationally, just randomly flailing about instead of making decisions to the best of their current knowledge and ability. Rationalism is how to not be those (hypothetical) people, which is very easy, and why the end result is just a morphed vocabulary: instead of saying “my opinion is” you can say “my initial epistemic model is” and instead of saying “I’ve changed my mind” you can say “I’ve now updated my priors.” It’s mostly Dumbo’s feather, since the actual actionable things in rationalism originated from science and have long been incorporated there anyways, and applying them outside of that arena usually leads to reductive absurdities like Sam Bankman-Fried’s argument that Shakespeare wasn’t a good writer.
So what’s another equivalent to Dumbo’s magic feather? Nootropics!
Just like rationalism, nootropics probably don’t make you smarter, but they do give you placebo levels of confidence, especially if they come with an impressive title like ALPHA BRAIN (it doesn’t matter which supplement you get them, it’s all sawdust anyways).
Gifts for Bronze Age Perverts!
The alt-right, but with far superior aesthetics. According to The Atlantic, BAP (his nom de plume), and his followers think that:
The “great ugliness” is the liberal bureaucratic state. Democracy… destroys “personal freedom and initiative” by elevating an unworthy caste of subhuman creatures he calls “bugmen,” who flourish only under these debased conditions, like roaches in a pit latrine.
The BAPs are our modern Achilles (of the keyboard). Or Achilleses. Achilles’. Achilleuses. Multiple of Achilles. The non-bugmen who are so buff. So anonymously buff. For these, ahem, bachelors, it makes sense to find a hobby beyond body-building—maybe something small and artful and peaceful, like hand-painting Mongolian figurines? It may awaken something, an imagining of the wind in their hair as the rider who captured them gallops across the steppe and so they must hold his waist tightly, as tightly as they hold the minuscule brush between their formidable phalanges. Wat means?
Gifts for the dating discourse obsessed!
Men are evil! Woman are betrayers who start most divorces! You need to hate the opposite sex in order to attract them! Having once read a blog post about evolutionary psychology, it’s time to generalize wildly!
Dating discourse is the lowest form of discourse on social media, but it is ever-present, like one of those peat bogs that burns for thousands of years. If you know someone like this is your life, you might ponder a gift to help cure their newfound obsession about income stats vs. divorce rates.
Of course, what those obsessed with dating discourse really need this holiday season is a time machine. That way, they can go back to high school and actually date a member of the opposite sex in that critical period before everyone’s minds harden into defensive adulthood. For in such an early relationship neither of you know, then, what the rules are. You model yourself on PG-13 movies, and care about things like prom. Who shows up in what. Who asked who to dance. A time machine might give those stuck in this argument a chance at the pomp and circumstance of that initial relationship, that time right after you’re able to drive and you get your first wheels, and so you pick your girl up after her art class and lie to your parents about being somewhere else and find a parking lot alone somewhere. Even then you’re both innocent, pure as the snow, pure even in how you’re compulsively electrified by touching each other. You don’t know what you’re doing, but your compatriot doesn’t either, and it’s okay, you’re discovering things within yourselves, eventually reaching a glen not corrupted by anything else and verdant and deep as the rainforest, and the two of you can enter it as the soul of a young man and the soul of a young woman holding hands.
Whoops. Got a little lost there. Apologies. Ummmm, oh yeah, time machines. Those aren’t on Amazon. And since you can’t gift dating discoursers access to the hidden glen where the two sexes can rest at ease with each other. . . a high school simulator it is then! Hmmmm. How about some seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There’s a boxed set on Amazon going for $89. The show is supposed to be about vampires, but really it’s about relationships in high school, and is, strangely, one of the more realistic depictions of them (which says a lot about the failures of more traditional dramatic TV, don’t you think?).
Andrew Tate! Pearl what’s-her-face! Soften your hearts, pop your popcorn, and get ready to care about who takes who to prom.
Gifts for normies!
What do you get for someone who has absolutely no idea about any of these things, who fits no internet archetype?
Don’t get them anything! A living breathing non-archetypal creature is too rare, too perfect for you to interact with. The slightest touch might send them reeling into an online portal. They should be left alone, like one of those islands with uncontacted tribes who we all root for to spear missionaries. Non-internet archetypes are mythic creatures who shouldn’t be disturbed under any circumstances.
Instead, please secretly bottle their bathwater and sell it to the rest of us. You can get at least $99 a pop. Charge extra for wrapping.