TIH 539: Jason Pargin on Becoming a TikTok Influencer, Is AI a Threat to Creativity, and Conspiracy Theories

In this podcast, Jason Pargin talks about becoming a TikTok influencer, AI and creativity, conspiracy theories, and much more.

About Jason Pargin

Jason Pargin is the New York Times bestselling author of John Dies at the End and the Zoey Ashe series. He is the former editor of Cracked.com. He’s just released his new book Zoey Is Too Drunk For This Dystopia. 

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They’re Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella

Read They’re Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella right now or listen to the They’re Watching audiobook narrated by RJ Bayley.

House of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson

From the author of The Girl in the Video comes a darkly comic thriller with an edge-of-your-seat climax.

Denny just wants to be the world’s best dad to his baby daughter, but things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank. Then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie half-sister who demands he uncovers the cause of her father’s death.

Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions?

House of Bad Memories is Funny Games meets This Is England with a Rosemary’s Baby under-taste.

Buy House of Bad Memories from Cemetery Gates Media

Buy the House of Bad Memories audiobook

Michael David Wilson 0:29

Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We chat with the world's best writers about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now today we are welcoming back Jason pod Jin. He is the author of a number of books including The John Dies at the End series under Zoe ash series. And today we have got Jason here because he has recently released Zoe is too drunk for this dystopia, which he has of course the latest book in the ZOE Ashe series. There are a multitude of topics in this episode, most notably, of course, the new book, but also how he became a tick tock influencer. And as a result of this conversation I have been up in my own game on tick tock so you can follow me at This Is Horror Podcast if you want and have a little look at what I've done. And I'll talk a little bit more about that experiment in the outro. But you're not here to listen to me ramble. You are here to listen to Jason Pargin. So let's have an advert break. And then after that, we're gonna get to the conversation. House

Bob Pastorella 2:00

of bad memories. The debut novel from Michael David Wilson comes out on Friday the 13th this October via cemetery gates media. Danny just wants to be the world's best dad to his baby daughter. But things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank, then Frank winds up dead, and Danny is held hostage by his junky half sister, who demands he uncovers the cause of her father's death with Danny to feed his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions. Clay McLeod Chapman says house of bad memories hit so hard, you will spit teeth out once you're done reading it. Preorder house of bad memories by Michael David Wilson and paperback at cemetery gates media.com or an ebook via Amazon.

RJ Bayley 2:45

It was as if the video hit on zipped my skin slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.

Bob Pastorella 2:53

From the crater of This Is Horror comes a new nightmare for the digital age. The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson. After a teacher receives a weirdly arousing video his life descends into paranoia and obsession more videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know but who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and every one He loves The Girl in the Video is the ring meets fatal attraction for iPhone generation available now in paperback ebook and audio.

Michael David Wilson 3:21

Okay with that said here it is. It is Jason Pargin on This Is Horror. Jason, welcome back to This Is Horror.

Jason Pargin 3:37

Right off the bat, I am going to begin this with a an announcement and a warning to your listeners. Some of you who are using their PCs at home, you have your right hand on your mouse and you are leaning on your chair on your other elbow. I want to let you know, if you do that for about 25 straight years, you will destroy your shoulder. I have bursitis in my left shoulder it is very painful not from dunking a basketball or lifting heavy weights or doing anything cool. But from sitting in this chair every day for recreation and work. And it turns out that is one of the worst things you can do to your body. So if you've if you're in that position right now, please correct your posture, take the pressure off your other arm find something to do with that arm. I don't think they're gonna have to surgically repair the shoulder. I think they will have to possibly do a cortisone shot, but it hurts a whole lot. And it is from sitting still in this chair staring at a screen having wasted my entire adult life doing nothing but that.

Michael David Wilson 4:48

Yeah, I find that my shareholders often kinda jacked up too. So I'm sure that you know, give it 10 years and I'm probably You're going to be dealing with the same problem. I mean, the only way that I, I try to kind of correct that is obviously, first of all being aware of it, it means that I do catch myself frequently in that position, and then trying to have like, movement breaks every hour, if possible. But yeah, I dunno, it's one of the hazards of the job.

Jason Pargin 5:26

I have tried that once upon a time trying to set literal alarms for myself to like, get up and look around and move or whatever. The moment I get really locked into a project or arm I'm writing, I just start silencing those arms. That's the issue is that it's the moment you're like, focused and locked in. That's when you stop being aware of what your body is doing, or of what yeah, you know, anything is doing. And then that's where six hours later you start to stand up. And you're like, Oh, my God, I can't feel my legs. Yeah, because my thighs have gone to sleep. Because I was too. I was too locked into what I was doing. I have written too hard and destroyed my body in the process. I have podcasted too hard.

Michael David Wilson 6:11

Yeah, it's just not really as impressive as it then if you were like a professional wrestler, and you're like, Well, I've jacked my neck as a result of that, you know, someone like Kurt Angle, and it's like, well, fair enough. But it's like, Look, I've written enough books, and I've put enough podcast miles in in that now I've got a bad shoulder. You don't get the sympathy and you don't get the respect. I mentioned to you about this.

Bob Pastorella 6:42

I don't know. I have a divot he was you're sitting there explaining that. And I'm like leaning on my arm going, that's where that divot comes from. Because I lean do that you described exactly that. And I'd hate to tell my doctor, you know, it's like, Well, I think you messed up your shoulder. Well, I'm a writer. Okay. And I was like, Well, I probably have poor posture. Okay, and what else do you do? Like, pretty much it man? Like, what what are you a wimp? Or what? Wait, what's your problem? Like no man is it's intense, you don't understand.

Jason Pargin 7:28

That is though, seriously, anybody listening? That is one of the worst things you can do to your body is to sit in one spot and make just tiny little movements. Because you're you're not stretching your ligaments and you've got muscles and the stuff that just kind of seizes up, like I have pain in my back and my hips, all of that is just sitting injury, because I you know, for those of you who are new to me, you know, I worked a series of office jobs in the 2000s. I basically had one office job during the day and other office job in the evening. Then when I started writing, that was my hobby. So it's work in front of a computer, different job work in front of the computer, hobby work in front of the computer, and was just sitting in front of a screen every waking moment, except for, you know, when I was commuting, or eating or whatever. And having done that. Yeah, I said 25 years earlier, it's been half my life. It's the worst thing you can do to your body, it really is you do have to somehow get a standing desk, which I do, I do have one of those. I paid a lot of money for one, that scaffold or hydraulics on it, that will raise up something because it's it will seem fine in the moment. I'm 48. So I'm not a super old man, but I'm definitely not young anymore. I'm realizing that same thing goes for diet, things like that. The stuff that was no problem when I was 25. And when I would write for 18 straight hours, just on one cup of coffee after another after another, then eating whatever, you know, candy or whatever I had at my desk just to get me through. That was fine in my 20s. I have tried to do that schedule in my late 40s. And it felt like I was going to die the next day. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 9:15

yeah. Well, I know in a lot of health circles, they say that being sedentary is the new smoking as it were in terms of the risk that it can pose to your health. And I mean, you said you've got a standing desk now. I'm wondering, in terms of the work that you're doing with the standing desk, do you find that you have to do different work as it were to be using the standing desk because I find that if I'm writing fiction, I do like the comfort of of sitting down but if it's other work, then I will do you know the standing dance you're exactly

Jason Pargin 9:58

right. When I I'm standing up, that is when I will do the work. It's answering emails, it's doing all of the administrative stuff. It's doing my social media posts, when I have to buckle down to actually write fiction and do deep thought work, my body needs to be sitting, the standing is too much of a distraction at that point, because I can feel, I mean, it is tiring to stand all day. I've had jobs where I've had to stand all day. But no, so any the miscellaneous stuff, the office, the more mindless type stuff I could do standing up when it comes time to dream up a world and bring it to life or whatever, I have to be setting for that. And unfortunately, that's, especially when you're in the heat of trying to get it done by a deadline. It's not something you do four and five hours at a time, it's something you wind up doing for 12 hours, hours at a time or more, or at least I do I quit because you're so scared of if you're locked in, and you're so scared of breaking the mood, or I'm not going to be like this tomorrow. So you stay with it. And it's unhealthy. It is it is an unhealthy job in several ways. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 11:06

yeah. And I guess I didn't anticipate this would be the direction we will go in early doors. But I suppose with you, it's like, we have no idea what announcement you're going to make at the start, like most conversations, they start with me asking a question, but the format work for you is you will make a declaration. Want

Jason Pargin 11:29

to start with that? Because I know for a fact there are listeners who are in this exact boat and don't know it yet. Because you're doing what's comfortable. And what's comfortable in the moment is to lean on the on your armrest and operate the mouse with the other hand, I'm telling you, the bill comes due eventually, I suppose every old person says that. Trust me. Anyway. So from

Michael David Wilson 11:50

your experiments in arm position, what do you think is the optimal position for I guess, like structure and mitigating injuries, and then I guess that might not be the one that is optimal for comfort. Unfortunately, probably the one for comfort is what we're all doing and then jacking up past shoulders, I

Jason Pargin 12:13

straight up took the armrest off that that other side of this chair, so if I tried to lean on it, I simply can't, it's just not there. If I did not do that, I would be subconsciously leaning on it, even right now telling you how much it hurts. I wouldn't be doing it as I speak. Because I can feel my elbow looking for it. And so that was the only way I had to force myself. But you know, it's the same thing if you if you eventually spring for like a really expensive, ergonomic back saving chair like I this is a Herman Miller chair that he's paid this like the most expensive thing I own in the world other than my car. But it's uncomfortable, because it forces you to sit in a good position like it pushes enter your back, the back is pretty rigid. It's not a big soft office type cherry. And when you sit down, it's like, oh, my gosh, this thing's the most uncomfortable thing in the world. But it's forcing you to sit in a way that you can't slouch down in this, you can't lean back, it won't let you. And so it's this is to save myself of having back surgery. 10 years from now it's getting this, this chair, that is if anybody sat in it, they will not be like, Oh, it's so soft. But it does. If you're sitting in it for a long, long time, you do realize, oh, I don't have nearly as much fatigue. Oh, my back is not hurting. And that's because it's just you know, you have to like customize it to the shape of your spine. So I consider it money well spent. Unless 10 years from now I still have to have back surgery anyway, in which case I will be enraged because I could have just been sitting in a comfortable chair that whole time.

Michael David Wilson 13:44

Yeah. So we'll pick back in in a decade, and you will have the definitive Herman Miller chair review.

Jason Pargin 13:53

I think that's the random I saying that right? I don't, I'm not

Michael David Wilson 13:57

entirely sure. But I know, I know that after this conversation, I'm going to be looking if if I can get one ship to Japan, that's for sure.

Jason Pargin 14:08

Yes, Herman Miller is the name Yeah, they are they so very expensive chairs that will have models that are that are like $1,400. And that's mine is not one of those. I assume those chairs will just write the book for you. Yes, that much. Well,

Michael David Wilson 14:27

with the advancements in AI these days, I'm sure that it will be possible for them to create it. But again, with the advancements in AI and what I've seen, it probably wouldn't be a book worth reading. So there is that. I'm

Jason Pargin 14:43

curious, what do you think about that? What What are your thoughts on because to me, I don't see how I can absolutely see how a computer can remix a bunch of other books that have already been written and switch the names around and spit out something that is is similar to other stuff in terms of actually writing a book that's going to stick with people. I don't see how even 1000 years from now you would have a computer that can actually do that, because it's still a computer and it doesn't live in the world. You see, I'm saying like, how can it like it can write a love story, by taking sentences from other love stories in its database and gluing them together and making something like better terms of writing a new love story and talking about the feelings and feeling of heartbreak, like the computer has never felt heartbreak, that doesn't have a body. It's never been in a relationship. It's never done any of those things. So anything that writes it can do a facsimile. But it's not writing from any kind of experience. Like I don't see how you would ever have a machine again, you can make a very efficient theft machine that copies other people's books and remixes them. But I don't see how you would ever have one smart enough that they can make something that genuinely touches you.

Michael David Wilson 16:00

Yeah, yeah, I'm completely in agreement with that. I mean, we've spoke about this topic a little bit before on the podcast. And I think in terms of it being a threat to creative art and original fiction, I don't see it that way at all. I think it is, obviously going to replace, I guess less creative writing, like the you know, transcripts and minutes and things like that, I think, you know, we will shortly be in a world where there probably won't even be a requirement for human transcription, because it will be that good. But the thing that AI lacks is a soul is that human emotion is that experience. And I mean, when we were talking with Chuck Palahniuk as well, we were talking about how there can be intentional errors within fiction. And so there's almost perfection within the imperfection, and the computer isn't going to be able to do that. So yeah, I don't see it as a threat to my livelihood as as a writer as a writer of fiction. I, I just don't see that. Oh, I think yeah, for transcription for translation for work like that, then, yeah, it is probably going to replace a lot of the human jobs, but I don't think it will replace art because even if it imitates art quite well, though, there will be something missing. So I think we're pretty much on agreement in agreement on that one.

Bob Pastorella 17:44

Yeah, I feel the same way. The only the only area that I think that it might, that it could pose a problem. And only because it's such a structured format would be screenwriting. Because it's, it's, it's very minimalistic, um, I hate to see a script from a chat GTP whatever it's called, I probably could pick it apart in seconds. But I mean, the technology is getting better and better and better. And so I think that that's, you know, we're, especially with the recent strike with the screenwriters guild, things like that, that was a big problem with them, because they were like, hey, these, these things are gonna get better, and they're gonna be able to, to take, you know, ideas of, you know, just a basically scrape every action movie ever made and create a script, because the format is very, very simple. To computer, not to humans, you know, but that, as far as prose goes, that the even Jordan Harper said, if you start throwing, you know, derogatory sexual terms and violence into it, it won't, it can't scrape it properly. It's not designed to scrape that. And so it basically gives you a homogenized version of what could be, you know, like a James Ellroy thriller, you know, or something like that, you know, it gives you, it gives you the CBS pilot of LA Confidential, you know, well, and that kind of in that kind of, you know, clean, pure, purest way.

Jason Pargin 19:25

What the complaint among the those green writers was that what the studios were going to try to do was let the AI spit out a draft, that's garbage, and then hand it to them and hire them to do a rewrite. Because what they have to pay you is completely different between buying an original script and hiring you to fix a script. So I have the robots turn out a formulaic romantic comedy and say, Okay, we're gonna hire Jason to come in and punch it up with actual human lines and language and jokes that the stuff that computer can't do and that will save us from having to credit any person with the idea or with the story or, you know, the stories by the robot. And what the writers were correctly saying, as you're asking us to write the whole thing, like, what you've given us is going to help, you're just giving us a template of placeholder garbage, that we're gonna have to rewrite the whole thing anyway, but you're doing it so you can get out of saying that it was our our story and our idea and having to pay us for that. So that's the, that's the real, the issue with AI, even in the short term, or probably even in the long term is never what the machines do. It's what the bosses think the machines can do, and what they tried to do with it, and then the whole thing with the Screen Actors Guild, that you know, the contracts they had been having them sign was if you're an extra on a film, because there's so much CGI and movies these days, they would always do a scan of your body, like that's part of the couple 100 bucks, you're getting paid to be an extra but it's like, Okay, now we get to use the scan forever, without paying you again. Because now you're just in our database of background actor. So we don't need to hire you anymore. We can just plug you into the background of your now fleeing Villager Number three in this fantasy movie. Thank you very much, we will just use that forever. So same deal the issue with you can't blame the machine for that that is the boss's trying to get away with not having to pay pay people anymore. Right?

Michael David Wilson 21:25

And have you had any kind of direct impact from Ai at the moment or from not not even necessarily, to your work, but from the the attitude and the response to AI? I wonder if there's been any knock on effect for you day to day? Not

Jason Pargin 21:48

yet, but I think it will soon impact everybody because you have so many companies that are going forward with using it without waiting for it to actually start working. So it's there's a scandal that pops up every couple of weeks on Twitter where they will catch a company that clearly had an AI right and obituary, for example, or in sports writing, they're doing this a lot. Now, like instead of having a person write a summary of the basketball game, they have an AI that can look at the stats, and then just do a write up that's like well, the Golden State Warriors ended the five game losing streak of the Memphis Grizzlies when data because it's, it doesn't need flourishes of language, it can just take the raw data and summarize it. And it's so frequently gets it wrong. And the the way, the weird phrasing that it uses, it sticks out like a sore thumb. And even on something that is not hugely consequential like that, one, it still took work away from a person somewhere. But to it shows that they are trying to push and see how much they can put the stuff out into the world before there's pushback before people notice before it actually affects things like traffic and ad revenue. Because there's a lot of attitude, especially among on online publishing that you do the bare bare minimum quality that people will tolerate, and no higher. And if this lets them save some tiny amount of money, they're going to do it. So I think all of us have interacted with AI recently, and most of us probably don't know or if we do know we only noticed well that was kind of weird. How they like the phrasing of that was all weird and odd people don't realize no you're looking at AI there's no there's no person on that byline.

Michael David Wilson 23:44

Yeah, I've noticed in the last few years as well when it comes to customer service, particularly online help with almost every website I have to get past that kind of bought that kind of robotic assistant to be able to be put in touch with a human and that I mean that happens on Amazon that's happened on countless retail websites and it's kind of infuriating cuz I mean, if it was just something I could look up then I wouldn't need to talk to customer service in the first place. So it's almost trying to work out what are the key words that I can use to get to the human quicker?

Bob Pastorella 24:31

Yeah, refund my money now bitch. Is it on the card? I do not want a gift card. Dammit. I use those words. I usually get a human but I gotta say my last my last refund through Amazon. Then my mom bought something I had to return it and we she didn't get paid back on her card. And I went to the chat and I got a human instantly I can tell that this was this was not a bot, this was actually a human and it was an incident thing. And so I felt really good about that too. Because, I mean, they were like, hey, you know, she can check our cart now that we have totally, completely refunded the the, the, you know, the product, and the money is on her car didn't there's no waiting or anything like that. And I called her and said, hey, check your car, your bank? And she was like, yeah, she goes, it's there. You know, and it was, it was like 100 something dollars, you know, and so I think, a couple bucks, probably a bot, but something like that, you're probably gonna have, you know, human interaction. I was pretty happy about that experience. No one happy with the product. But ya

Michael David Wilson 25:45

know, and it occurs to me that even when we speak to a human, so often they're following a script anyway. So it's not even actually a regular interaction. And sometimes I just want to be like, Look, let's just go off script here. What is it? You can actually do I know that you don't give a shit about this. And you don't have to keep telling me how important I am to you. I'm not fucking important. You're having a hard day, you're not paid enough for this bullshit? What is it? We can actually do?

Jason Pargin 26:23

That I will say that, because it's like, we're the book that I'm on, you're talking about that it's a sci fi series. There's three books, there's almost no AI and the stories. I gotta admit, I don't find it interesting to write about. And I guess it's funny because the the Sci Fi I grew up with and Isaac Asimov and all of the greats like it's full of stories, where they're using robots and AI to explore themes of humanity. You know, that's why a character like data exists in Star Trek is because it's, you get to question all these things about what it is to be human. And what does the world look like when machines can think like people, my books take place in the future where they, they basically never interact with AI in any significant way, or at least not the way we think of it, where it's a robot that you can converse with, like a person. And I, I guess I never thought about it. Like why I don't want to make that a bigger part of the stories. But it's funny because it almost feels retro to me, because you watch sci fi from the 1950s. And there's a guy in a silver suit playing a humanoid robot. And they were so certain that that was going to be a part of the future. And it, there's a lot of automation in our world. But it doesn't look like that you don't go to a restaurant and have a robot come in and take your order. It's a lot of the things that they assumed we would have are robotic housekeeper, things like that, that they had in the Jetsons. So I don't find it interesting to write about because I think of it as like a retro technology, because retro sci fi was so heavy with robots. And that's I don't know, that's kind of weird, because something like that is going to arrive, they will have robotic nurses in nursing home that will occur at some point. It's just a cost issue, right? Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 28:11

yeah. Well, I think the thing is, and when looking at your Zowie ash series, I mean, you're tackling issues that I feel are more important or more within the zeitgeist at the moment, like this constant surveillance state, but it's a surveillance state of our own making. I mean, we don't when we read stuff like 1984, and you're well, that it would be like the government and the authorities that would be monitoring us at all times. But actually, we've created it, we are broadcasting our own life, we have chosen to live like this. And, you know, even if we haven't personally chairs when enough people have chairs, and for us that any conceivable action could be on camera. And

Jason Pargin 29:04

the for the people that have not read the series. It's it's in a future but not a distant future. But it's in the near future where basically, their version of the internet and social media is it's a world where everybody has a camera pinned to them. It's just it's the accessory everybody has where everybody has a smartphone. Now, everybody has a little cousin or a little cameras size of a button, or they could be in your glasses or anywhere that doesn't interrupt your outfit. And there's drones everywhere in every car has cameras on the dash, which there's some countries where they come standard like that, and their internet where as a user, you can hop into any feed anywhere. So in theory, anything that's occurring anywhere in the world, you can go look at it live like you have a God's eye view of the world basically, but it means that your behavior is dict aided by the fact that you know, the moment you step outside your door, you are probably, or almost certainly on camera. Whereas now in theory, you could be on camera anywhere, but you still assume that you're not like you, if you went to a restaurant with a friend, you would still be fine. Like, telling off color jokes are telling secrets, because you assume nobody's listening to us. But if you're in a future where you know with 100%, certainty, multiple people in that restaurant have cameras on their bodies, and that they can record you from across the room, because that's the technology, they can hear what you're saying. Yeah, you are now in the panopticon, you are being observed everywhere. And you combine that with a culture of people that also kind of like to tattle on each other. And where it's not just that you're on camera always been washed, but that there is this culture of being able to catch each other saying things or doing things and, and kind of being kind of policing each other's behavior. Yeah, you've actually created something weirder than Big Brother, because Big Brother at least would have laws written down. Whereas here, this is like, you can just violate the vibe and suddenly have the whole community turn against you. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 31:19

yeah. And it occurs to me in all the conversations we've had, we haven't ever kind of got into the Zoey series in depth, we've touched on there and some of the themes, but I mean, let's kind of go back all the way to the first one to futuristic violence and fantasy suits. So this came out after two of the John and Dave series. But how did this come about? And why did this come about?

Jason Pargin 31:53

Well, I did not just want to write the same series for the rest of my life. And for people that some people listening, this is first time they've ever heard of me, but I, my novel writing career got started with a book I wrote called John dies at the end, they got made into a film, like the very first book I ever wrote, not only got published, but it became a film. And it became a best seller. And then it turned into a best selling series. So I had written the second one, the second book in the series, called This book is full of spiders, made the The New York Times bestseller list. And then it was time to do a new book deal. And I think most publishers, if you have a very successful series are kind of happy to just have you write that forever, because that's because that's the dream, right? It's like every you've got a waiting audience to buy the new edition of whatever book, you know, the next one in the series. And I didn't want that for myself just writing the same thing. So I had this other idea for this story that is more sci fi than then horror, but still has like the dark satire elements. And that is about, you know, most good sci fi is about the present, not the future. And so it's like a future where you have the social media panopticon only it's cranked up to 10. And then drew was trying to think of the most ridiculous and Bizarre Adventure that could unspool in that environment, and have this idea of this young woman living in a trailer park of the future, which looks suspiciously like the trailer parks they have now. And then she winds up inheriting her father's company. But her father's company was an enormous crime organization, where he owned lots of casinos, and lots of off the books stuff. And suddenly, through a series of circumstances, it all becomes hers. So she suddenly has enormous power, and moves to the city. And suddenly, as a has a big target painted on her back from all of these crazy over the top weirdos who are not just evil or not just violent. They're people who are trying to build a social media brand. And like, that's the type of supervillains they have in that world. These are people who are trying to make a name for themselves, and they are trying to establish themselves as being, you know, being so intimidating that you don't mess with me. And then that's how they establish themselves as having power in that world. So she finds herself in a situation where it is a power struggle. It is very dangerous. She is surrounded by violent men, but the war that's been fought is a war over perceptions. Because that's where the true power lies in a world where Perception is everything and where every single citizen has a brand, because they have to because you walk outside of your house you are on camera. So instead of being err, you know, a crime lord of the past would have just had their their enemies killed or whatever. She has a much more delicate game she has to play, because it's about watch. It's about manipulating the perceptions of the city. And it becomes quickly a very tangled and often ludicrous journey for her to go

Michael David Wilson 35:26

on. Yeah, and I think if we consider narrative, I mean, that seems to be something that comes up even more prevalently in the latest. Zoe's to drunk fitness dystopia. And, I mean, I wonder when we think about narrative, and we think about the mainstream media and news, how do you personally get a balance between questioning things a healthy amount of questioning, but not going down some absolute paranoid, rabbit hole conspiracy theory.

Jason Pargin 36:13

It's interesting because to exist in the world, as it is now, where if you are because I'm online, I'm a heavy social media user I have to be. This is my world, I, you know, promoting books means being on all of the various platforms, I have almost 350,000 followers on Tiktok. I don't know if anyone can spend that much time in that ecosystem, without having their brain broken to a decree or having their view of the world skewed in some way. That it wouldn't be if you were just out living your life among people the way the people did in our youth. And I don't know how I would love to be able to take an inventory of how much of what I know and believe is actually true, versus because no one thinks they are the victim of propaganda, or misinformation or anything else. Everyone thinks I'm the one who's got a handle on the truth. And all these other crazies are? Almost certainly not, that's almost certainly not true, right? Because they're all thinking the same thing. So no, in terms of the challenge of how you keep yourself from going off the deep end, or wild or becoming too cynical about the world, which is the thing I mostly fear. I don't know that I'm doing a good job of that. I don't know that I hope someone would tell me, but would they? Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 37:50

I mean, it's an interesting question as to whether they would or wouldn't tell you because I think we've all got or had friends that have jumped down the conspiracy theorist, rabbit hole, and, you know, it can be a difficult conversation. And it's like, well, how, how much do we kind of raise this with them? How much do we engage? Because I mean, I don't like the idea of like, writing off a long term, friend, because they have some wacky ideas. But then obviously, there's going to be a limit, there's going to be a point where it's like, no, this is too far we. So I think it's about questioning things. It's about calling things out. But you almost have to do it on a case by case basis. It's not like this lizard, a formula for talking to a conspiracy theorist. And you know, I like to know, why do people believe what they believe? And I don't know. Sometimes the true fears is in the middle so that there's a little bit of most of the time there's a grain of truth in what it is that they've decided to believe or you can see where the seed came from, but then they've extrapolated to a point of absurdity.

Jason Pargin 39:20

Let me tell you a conspiracy theory that I do believe in, and you can judge for yourself how crazy doesn't the listeners themselves can judge? I believe that on social media, every platform I use, there is subtle propaganda. That is all sending the same message, which is, other people are scary. The only safe thing to do is to stay at home and stare at a screen because the relationship advice is all cut them out of your life. That's all red flags. What are the red flags to look for when dating like what are the warning signs? On the relationship stories people tell? It's always horror stories. I found that my cat, my kids were minor, I found out that she had done some horrible crime or vice versa. Or the guy, you know, who I found out that he had murdered his last girlfriend, like, it's all stories about being with other people is terrifying. There are clips of people out in the world behaving badly parking badly acting badly throwing a fit into the grocery store, out there, out in the world, people are scary, they're going crazy. And I feel like there is an intentional skewing of the algorithm toward content that steers you in toward one conclusion, which is the only safe thing you can do is stay at home and stare at a screen because they make more money. When you're staring and sitting at home staring at a screen like they obviously need you to be doing that too. So ad revenue, that I feel like their algorithms are all tweaked toward pushing us to become more toward towards solitude toward loneliness, on purpose. So

Michael David Wilson 41:01

in terms of that conspiracy, I mean, who do you think is kind of in on it? And I mean, could you speculate as to where do you think it started, which social media network or website was late, right, this is where we go. And that's

Jason Pargin 41:21

the scariest part, when I tell you who's behind it. It's a machine that only knows whether or not the line is going up. And so it tests thumbnails and headlines, and sees which one makes the person stay on the app longest. And it just naturally feeds you, whatever that is. So it doesn't know why you're staring at the screen. It just knows that this particular video, this particular tweet, this particular whatever had that outcome it made you stare at your screen for 10% longer and look at five more ads. So it naturally feeds you more and more of that. And it just turns out that that type of content is the stuff that makes the world seem scary, because that's it's like the only safe thing to do is to stay here and watch and to monitor it all. Like you got to stay here and watch this war play out in Ukraine. It's like the superstition that you need to be in front of your screen watching it or else the wars gonna go badly somehow, like you're affecting it. That I think that's the scariest part. This monster has no head, there's no person. There's no evil person in a laboratory. Like the yes, this will ruin society. It's just the incentives of apps and platforms that only know one thing. We need to maximize how many minutes a day you are on here. And so it's the same thing whether you're talking about the guy who talks about something like Fox News, like Fox News is relentless about the cities are on fire, the gangs are out of control. The immigrants have control. If you so much as just drive your car through Brooklyn, a gang of thugs will will hide carjack you and yank you out of your car and kill you and rape your wife. And they have found over time that their ratings go up when they say that kind of stuff. And you now have an entire generation of old people who have Fox News on for 12 hours a day. Sitting there transfixed. And the message over and over again is outside your door is monsters. And I don't think I don't think Roger Ailes or anybody else ever sat down and wrote up a thing saying, Here's, you know, here's what will terrify people into watching our news channel. I think over time they just developed a formula and have made so many people miserable in the process and there are so many people who have lost their grandparents down that paranoia hole not because somebody stated that as their political goal but just because they found out that they made more money off ads by doing it

Bob Pastorella 44:09

so I'm just showing you cable 54 Consume obey. Is it sentient? Because I mean is it state live on on a on a social media scale. If you watch Tik Tok, I find myself getting stuck in these videos of people screaming at each other. I know exactly what you're talking about. And it's like any any you get to where that's all they show you because that's because you've looked at it long enough. That's how are their logarithm works. And so if you want to screw up there logarithm, then I start watching clips of George Carlin and Christian Johnson and other comedians. And then next thing you know, my feed is nothing but comedians. And so like I can I can I know what you're talking about because I've manipulated tic tock to where I can. And it's funny because you can't do it you just got it. It's how long you look at something. It's how many times you go back to it the next thing you know, your your feet starts filling up with things that you've been watching. So it's, it's, to me, it's like it's not really conspiracy theory. It's just, they're fucking really really smart and know how to make that ad revenue workout.

Jason Pargin 45:34

For people who don't follow me on Tik Tok. And I'm Jasonkpargin on there, because I kind of accidentally went viral on there over the course of the last year, that I've tried to do videos that are just little fun little factoids, and trivia and stuff like that to try to, to not like I rarely post about any kind of a controversial topic or whatever. I also have tried very, very hard to train that algorithm out away from feeding me outrage content, very difficult to get it to stop. Very difficult because I have made it very clear. I am not on Tik Tok to have somebody claim that the whole thing that's happening in Israel and Gaza there's it's actually a conspiracy involving a canal or something or stuff from Ukraine, where it's, it's, you know, a Russian news outlet claiming, like pictures of destroyed Ukrainian tanks or whatever. It's like, I'm not here for that. I don't trust you to feed me that information. No matter how many times I click not interested on those videos. And try to always like, you know, I will like or repost or watch cute animal videos, I will get more and more to animal stuff, it will still try to feed me. Look at those horrible crime that happened in Chicago, look at this gang of people who went in and destroyed this, this Walgreens store. This is happening everywhere, watch out, don't go to Walgreens, there'll be a gang that might attack you that tried to hit me with that people are monster stuff. And you talk about the videos of people screaming at each other. It tries to paint a very specific portrait of all human interaction is a minefield. Like the out in public, there's somebody waiting to scream at you, or you're going to embarrass yourself or something, you know, like trying to make it make people seem scary. And I feel like it keeps falling back to that as its go to. Because if you're out with people, you're not staring at your phone. And again, I call it a conspiracy theory because I feel like they could maybe not do that if they chose to. They that it's the one there's a bunch of different genres of videos that all ultimately feed back into that of here's people being awful out in public, here's people fighting here's people I get out of fight videos, here's I get road rage videos, getting driving in your car is dangerous. People are crazy out there, you could be in a road rage, like I've never seen a road rage, road rage incident in real life ever. bid on here. It's like it's just constantly the real world is scary. And I'm someone who has a job that keeps me indoors almost every day. But it's like, I don't know if the algorithm even if it's trying to reassure me that I not missing anything by going out there. Or if it's just detected that I personally find that stuff compelling. Because, you know, if you want to keep a person wrapped to a screen, it's you scare them. But far and away, that's by far and away the most effective thing. And that's something you know, that's not a necessarily tick tock thing, I think, you know, it was the 1950s when TV news producers realized this. So it is a mass media thing is just that it has become so more sophisticated as a machine. Because I do I know that newspaper editors realized in the 1800s that a headline about crime or whatever, sells more papers. But now that they have data that's so granular on your exact behavior, and the exact thing that keeps you staring at the screen for one minute longer than you would have. It's scary because most people don't I call it a conspiracy theory because most people don't think of it in terms of that of this algorithm is trying to change who you are, is trying to change how you behave. Because most of us think of it as this innocuous thing. Just tick tock it's a distraction. It's like it is but these are also precious minutes of your life that you could be spending doing anything else.

Michael David Wilson 49:46

Right and I certainly wanted us to talk about tick tock and when we first spoke to you I didn't think that talking about tick tock was going to become a recurring theme But here we are, because there's kind of been an evolution in terms of your own journey with tic TOCs. So the first conversation we had you said, you didn't fully understand it that frightened you that you just weren't sure how to use it. Now in a second conversation we opened with you confessing that not only had you joined Tik Tok, but you've now had a number of videos go viral. And now, one year later, I would say that there is an argument that you are now an influencer on Tik Tok, you are one of the more known people within genre on Tik Tok. So, I mean, we need to talk a little bit about this.

Jason Pargin 50:51

I mean, I signed up for their monetization in the spring Tik Tok is now half my income really make I make as much money off Tik Tok as I do off my books. So in the past year, my videos have been viewed almost half a billion times billion with a be it I have three like I said, it's almost 350,000 followers and then the collective likes on the videos is something like 40 million or something like that. So, this has taken over my life in the last year, which for the people don't know me, I'm a 48 year old man, I did not think Tik Tok was I, again two years ago, I thought it was just like teenage girls, and they were like pointing at words. Well, a song played. That's, that's entirely that's all the Tiktok was I know. And when people started telling me last year, that well, no, it's there's a lot of book reviewers on there. A lot of authors, you know, Brandon Sanderson is on there. You know how these authors are getting it on there. Even older people like you, you really should be on there. They said. So is it August of last year, August of 2022, that I finally joined, spent like six weeks observing and trying to figure out how it worked, because it has this inscrutable algorithm from the users end. And then almost immediately had some videos do very well. And then soon after the add some videos go huge, like 10 million views. And then that was that so I now more people have seen my tiktoks by a factor of 100 that have read all of my books combined the entire time I've been writing more people have read have watched my tech talks and have read any of my writing on the internet. And I've been writing on the internet since 1998. I've 25 years and that doesn't matter. I've reached you. It will say if I die tomorrow, my obituary will be tick tock tick tock influencer, who writes books on the side. That is not a direction anyone would have predicted for my life. The point is, I'm not I'm not a video guy. People I see that I've been working on the internet some of you think that means I'm a YouTuber or something I did not do on camera stuff. I wrote anonymously for the first several years of my career did not even have my own photo online until 2007 that like it was a decade into it before I allow people to even see my face and had to you know, like when I got the first book deal, I guess that has to be like that had my own name on the flap on the About the Author because you can't you know, I'm not under witness protection. I just writing anonymously under a pseudonym. Like I never wanted to be about my personality, or perceiving me at all I wanted the work to be the thing that people perceived in new and that I am just the silent person and behind the scenes that that pulls the lever I did not want people to recognize me on the street. That is not my thing. If you have recognized me on the street and said hi to me, that's very nice. I hope I was nice to you I realized that that is the dream. My personality that's not that's not what I want for myself when I'm out at the grocery store and I have like combed my hair and I'm just buying a pile of junk food to eat at my desk. i My dream is not to do that and then have people come up to me and say hey, I love your I love your tech tax. But the media ecosystem change to a degree that that's the only way to reach people because once upon a time the internet was just text and blogs and chat rooms and then it went to air it was mostly photos and then it went to was mostly video and now it's if you want to reach people, you have to do video, pretty much it's I know there are some big big time authors that don't have to do that. That's not me. I have watched engagement on Facebook and on Twitter X. And all of those go down, down down with time, as people go more and more away from that and more toward video based apps, even if they're using Instagram, they're now using it for the reals. So I turned myself into a video person and thought that I would have no success doing that. And imagine my surprise, because no one is more surprised by this than I am so sorry, I turned on the monetization in the spring because they started offering it for the first time because they were losing creators to YouTube pays, you know, serious money. And they turned on this program where if you've got above a certain number of followers, and if you make longer form videos, they'll pay you and turn it on just so I could justify to myself because like, this is eating up so much of my time and my energy. And I didn't want to think that I was doing it just for the attention. So it is now mostly paying paying the bills, which I don't know, that's a weird, that's a weird place to be because any kind of money you make doing internet influence or stuff that is precarious, they can take it away at any time.

Michael David Wilson 56:08

Yeah. Well, I mean, as I said, we did speak a little about tick tock last time, but I feel now that not only are you an influencer, but you're making half your income from it, I'd like to get a little bit more granular because this is something that no doubt other writers will be thinking of potentially getting into. So I mean, how often are you putting out videos? And how long on average does it take you to make a video

Jason Pargin 56:44

to make a video it may be it depends on the video, some of them will take me a couple of hours, some I can, I'll just have an idea that pops in my head and you just turn on the camera and do it. And the success between those two things. The high effort and low effort videos, is a total crapshoot from the creator and tiktoks algorithm is totally inscrutable it is not a merit based system, you can spend two hours working really hard to put a video together, and then upload it and they will just kill the video. Instantly. When I say kill the video, I mean, they will show it to 250 people, and it stops, it doesn't matter the F 345,000 followers didn't matter. If they decide they don't like the video, if tick tock the platform, not the users, they won't even show it to people to see if they like it. So as a result of that I post two to three videos a day. And the ones that die, I just delete them because I figure I'll use the idea elsewhere because nobody saw it. I cannot imagine being a young person doing this I cannot imagine person doing this as their sole income. Because again, I'm married, my wife has a job we're doing very well she you know, I have health insurance through her. If I was 25 and trying to pay my rent purely with with tick tock, it would be a mental health meat grinder, because that I will have a day in revenue where I will make $26 Next day $27 Next day $2,500 Next day $32 Next day $105. Like it's not like you're building up a following over time. And you've can pretty much say okay, this is what I make every week on tick tock. It is. They will grab a random ass video, the dumbest joke, low effort joke and you will suddenly get 15 million views on that thing and make you know, whatever $5,000 off one video, and then your next 25 videos will go nowhere. And it is so random. That it's like having an angry, insane God in charge of your life who just I mean God and like the Greek gods sense where the gods are all cruel and random and are just toying with you. So me having it as a something to do on the side of my book deals. That's one thing. But I know people are trying to do it full time like people who quit their day jobs to do tick tock full time or to do YouTube full time and YouTube is the same way you don't know what an algorithm is going to do for you. It is like it's it's an anxiety machine for me and I have so much less at stake than some of these people because I see some of these people like get they'll get their account suspended and Tik Tok doesn't tell you why. It's just we've suspended your account for community violation and they have no idea what they did it like like their video seemed perfectly fine. But that's they just lost their income. They got fired. I heard from their job basically, because it's a job that has no guarantees. It has not just no union, but none of the guarantees that would come with any other kind of employment in the United States, were just they can just arbitrarily kick you off the platform. And you have no, there's no recourse. There's no appeal. They just do it for reasons that are only known to their machine. Like I think in many cases, no human looked at the thing. So you have somebody that was making 10 grand a month on tick tock, and then suddenly, it's just gone. And it's not hypothetical. I know these people, I watched him go off to try to rebuild their lives on YouTube and see if they can make it work there. So it is. I see why people hate it. I see why people talk about banning it. Because of the effect that has on young people and the way its algorithms work and the way certain you know, like unhealthy fads and misinformation gets spread. It's not any better from the user. And that's why that's where I tell myself that I'm trying to make like positive content stuff that's that's sourced and it's correct, and that it's uplifting, or whatever, because I feel like well, I'm gonna be the one that tries to make it better. But I am definitely a cog in evil machine.

Michael David Wilson 1:01:13

Yeah. And I mean, if you were starting anything other than tick tock, then you will probably be looking for what is my niche, your what is my unique selling point, particularly if it was a blog, or it was a YouTube channel? It's like, right, is this about writing? Is this humor, you know, other avenues you could go in such as like health and fitness and things like that, but you would need to have a niche. But I mean, in terms of the algorithms being pretty random, does that mean that we've ticked off? Do you find that you are jumping wildly from topic to topic more? Or do you think there is a benefit in having a niche? And what are you doing to, I suppose, to try an almost game more to win, when you are dealing with a system that has no roads essentially, or no rules that it makes people aware of?

Jason Pargin 1:02:16

To be clear, it is better to have a niche on any of these platforms. And you will perform you will be have a much, much, much easier hill to climb. If your whole deal is I'm a movie trivia guy, movie trivia or I'm political, political guy, politics, commentary, Political Minute, I do one minute politics every day or whatever. Because dance there for the user. It's like, it's like a tap, you turn on the tap in your kitchen, you turn on the knob and cold water comes out. So the machine wants you to be like that they they tap your thing and political opinions come out. So having a niche where people know what to expect, and they know exactly what to get from your channel that that is better. That's never been me. I've never been that guy, I get bored too easily. So trying to do what I'm doing, where the only thing this content has in common is that it's coming out of my mouth and my face. That's the hardest way to do it. Unless you're extremely attractive, then people will seem to just listen to whatever you say that in my case, I'm just trying to promise that all the videos are going to be interesting. But it's still very much a shotgun approach. Like the way I'm doing it is high difficulty and and high uncertainty because you know, one video may be some sort of a science fact the next baby trivia the next thing may be an extremely dumb joke that occurred to me in the middle of the night. And then I just set it into a camera. But that's it. Anybody out there trying to get into this you have to understand what why say that like authors are on tick tock, there are some authors where they're famous enough where they can just talk about books and their own books. I'm not that famous and not as a book guy. Like I'm, a lot of people know me on the internet in terms of selling books, I'm not big enough that I can just come on there and say, Hey, new book coming out. And then a million people liked the video, because that's how popular I am. The videos where I'm talking about my books don't get nearly as much traffic. But the way my model for doing it is it's like a 9010 split 90% of the content is for the platform. And then 10% is me promoting my own books. And it's like that 90% builds up the audience of eyeballs that you can then show the 10% to and then of that 10% Some smaller percentage of them are readers and then of them some smaller percentage will actually fork over the money for for a book so and that has worked out very well. Like we the launch of the news of the book. It went very well. It went very well because of tick tock

Michael David Wilson 1:04:51

Yeah, and I wonder how your mindset has shifted, if at all since turning on monetization because it goes before that. You're putting out the content you're trying to make. You're trying to make your audience as widespread as possible. But there's no direct money coming in. You're just hoping as you say that a percentage of viewers will then buy the book. But now, because every video is potentially monetized, yeah, you hope that there'll be more readers, but any video in and of itself can become a moneymaker. So has that changed the way that you approach tic tock or the kind of content that you create?

Jason Pargin 1:05:43

Here's the thing, getting paid for art changes how it lives in your brain? Do you guys know what I'm talking about? Right? The stuff they make for fun, versus the stuff that's now either it's gonna it's your it's your paycheck, or you're hoping it's going to be a paycheck. It changes where it lives in your soul. It just does your anybody out there listening, who's long term goal is to take something you're currently doing as a hobby, and eventually make it your job. I'm telling you right now, the moment it becomes your job, your relationship to that hobby will change forever. Whether you want it to or not. I can see that with tick tock, because initially, I was having fun. Because it's a toy to play with, if you're a creative person, tick tock is it's a lot of fun, because it's zero effort. If you don't want it to be a lot of effort, like turn the cameras talk, like it's easier than even typing out a tweet there, you actually type out something, he goes, turn on the camera and talk 15 seconds, boom, put it up and see what happens. Having a toy to play with. And then having a toy to play with it occasionally promotes your books, and instead having a part time job you're doing to help fund your retirement. Because that is how you have to start thinking when you're pushing 50 Because you suddenly have friends who are starting to retire rolling like three years older than you, cuz they had government jobs or whatever it's like no, like retired at age 54. It is the classic thing that everyone's gonna go through. Because it's like, do I still have the freedom to make these as stupid as I want, or as weird as I want. Because you do learn, there are certain videos that have the ones that are successful, they tend to be of a certain type of video. And so the way tick tock monetization works contrary to what people believe about, tick tock, they will only pay for videos that are over one minute on, they want longer content now. Because tick tock was famously like Vine, it was like five seconds, or somebody's lip synching to 10 seconds of a song or whatever, and then it's over. And they intentionally wanted longer content. Well, I now know when I start my day, a longer video on some kind of a topic that has some sort of heart information, and it is most likely what is going to earn me some sort of money for that day, and make me feel like I'm not wasting my life on tick tock as a 48 year old man. That's not the same stuff that I enjoy making. And so now 1415 months into this. Yeah, I am clocking in to tick tock it's, it's it's a it's a time clock. It's just we're punching them because it's like, no, this is this is my hedge against the books not selling or not getting another book deal. I've got the second stream of income set up. Because it's the same thing with the books. In theory, I could write an extremely weird book something so weird that I know, nobody's going to gonna read it or enjoy it. But when the book deal is your entire job and your entire income, kind of No, you kind of you could write something like that as a hobby on the side. But I can't spend two years writing something just because I think it's funny and three of my friends would find it funny and no one else. And in a perfect world like I would I like every artists, everybody, every creator wishes they could just play in that space. Just play just do something weird. Do something new. Write a book that's in a totally non traditional format. Write the whole thing so that it rhymes, get stupid with it. Do something fun. I can't do that. Not not if I'm not if I'm paying the bills, and I'm not. I'm not Stephen King. I'm not somebody sold 30 million books. I've sold a lot of books I get to do it full time. But it's the same thing. No matter where you're creating. every YouTuber has dealt with this. Every podcast has dealt with this. Like you you start to learn what the audience will respond to and then what the audience responds to dictates what advertisers respond to if that's how you make your money, or what your page chances Drivers respond to you know, trade if you're trying to gain more subscribers. And over time the audience's tastes kind of become your tastes. It's not that you sell out. It's just that you get scared to do anything other than what is going to pay pay your mortgage. Yeah, absolutely.

Michael David Wilson 1:10:23

Thank you so much for listening to Jason pod here on This Is Horror. Join us again next time for the second and final part of the conversation. But if you would like to get that ahead of the crowd, if you would like to get every episode ahead of the crowd, then become our patron@patreon.com forward slash, This Is Horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you get to submit questions to the interviewee. On coming up very soon. We've got Rachel Harrison, the author of the brand new book, black sheep. So go to patreon.com forward slash Listen, Tara, have a little look at what it is we offer. And if you like it, I would love to see you there. Okay, before I wrap up, a little bit of an advert break. It

RJ Bayley 1:11:17

was as if the video had unzipped my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.

Bob Pastorella 1:11:25

From the creator of This Is Horror comes a new nightmare for the digital age. The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson, after a teacher receives a weirdly arousing video is like to send to the paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know. But who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and every one he loves. The Girl in the Video is the ring meets fatal attraction from iPhone generation. Available now in paperback ebook and audio. From the host of This Is Horror Podcast comes a dark thriller of obsession, paranoia and voyeurism. After relocating to a small coastal town, Brian discovers a hole that gazes into his neighbor's bedroom. Every night she dances and he peeps, same song, same time, same wild and mesmerizing dance. But soon Brian suspects he's not the only one watching. She's not the only one being watched. They're Watching is The Wicker Man meets Body Double with a splash of Suspiria. They're Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella is available from this is horror.co.uk, Amazon and wherever good books are sold.

Michael David Wilson 1:12:34

Now, in a second part of the conversation with Jason, we do delve even deeper into Tik Tok and some of the strategies and recommendations for making a success yourself. And as I said in the intro, I in fact have been experimenting with tick tock you can follow me at This Is Horror Podcast on tick tock and see what it is that I'm up to. But I have discovered a few things already. And one of those things that I discovered that we didn't cover in this episode, and we don't actually mention in part two Eva, is that your tick tock account is very much tied to your location. This has created an interesting situation for me, because I am based in Japan, but my largest audience is in the US. And then the second, third and fourth are in the UK, Australia and Canada. But in terms of my Tik Tok content, it is predominantly pushing the videos to Japan to people in Japan which I suppose has a number of challenges, but some possible advantages as well. So if you don't want to hear me talking about tick tock and what I've discovered, you might want to turn off now because that's pretty much what I'm doing until the end of the episode. So as per Jason's recommendation I've been putting out a tick tock video every day. And to begin with I put out original videos my own content me talking about books, and indeed a video in which I tried to talk about some jack folinic writing advice and then I am accosted by a Shrek now. Really up until this conversation with Jason. I had sporadically put clips from the This Is Horror Podcast on Tik Tok and looking at tick tock previously I I got kind of between 300 and 1000 views on each video. But that was not making videos and a native app that was not really making things with tick tock in mind, but purely putting out clips from the podcast. I'm not even doing that in the Tick Tock format. It was widescreen. But it seemed to work. Okay, for me, in terms of just having a fun place with those claims. Now post a conversation with Jason. Everything I've made has been in the TIC tock app. And so those initial videos that I did, they got between 250 views, and nearly 800. And then I thought, You know what, I'm gonna start putting offer clips on the This Is Horror, a tick tock. But I'm going to make them so that they're the correct size and resolution for tick tock. I'm also going to add captions because that seemed to be working quite well. And so it's kind of a mix of it being made outside of the native app, but then edited and recreated, I suppose in the app, not to date those videos. A combination from Chuck Palahniuk and Dean Koontz have got three or 400 views, which is little bit disappointing given me being accosted by a Shrek has got nearly 800 views. But one of those videos from hkiac folinic. Has he got over 4000 views. Now, for that video in particular, I did encourage people to watch to like it to engage with it. And it also so happens that for that video, Jason parging liked it. Jason, this is the only video you've liked on how tic tac but it may be that Jason has such an astronomically large following. That that is why that video has taken off. I kinda want to ask Jason to like another video purely as an experiment to see okay, was it his like, that made this video do quite well? Or was there something else going on? Now it was around this time that I then discovered that all of this content that I'm putting out is being predominantly pushed to a Japanese audience. Now, I believe it's an English speaking Japanese audience. But nonetheless, it is bizarre when this is not my core demographic. So if it's anything you can do is to follow us on This Is Horror Podcast on Tik Tok? Like, comment, engage with the posts because I'm trying to retrain the algorithm. So that, you know, we can actually put out the content towards that target audience. Now, now, you may be thinking, why don't I just change my location to the UK or America? Well, I did try to do that. But then you're told that you have to have been in the country for 90 days. And Tik Tok is smart. You can't just use a VPN, it won't let you. So there is a feature though, and that is to in fact, tag the video with the location. So for the Chuck clips, I thought Portland as that is where he's from. And for the Dean Koontz clips I put California as that is where he is based at the moment. But it's still pushing these clips to Japan. I do wonder, in fact, is it penalizing me for being based in Japan and then tagging a video with Portland? I don't know. But I'm going to stop tagging and see if that makes any difference to the viewership.

Now, the obvious advantage of pushing the content to Japan, a place where I do not have a core demographic is maybe I will get a bigger following in Japan. There will be people who see it as clips from the This Is Horror Podcast, and they decide to check out the episodes. I don't know. But I would say another benefit is that I'm repurposing the best of these videos to Instagram. So even if tick tock is a bit of a flop, it is enabling me to expand things to Instagram to share more videos more content and hopefully to get more people interested in this is horror I think because it is targeting Japan, and my audience at the moment is in America, that the chances of This Is Horror, becoming a viral sensation, in much the same way that Jason has, is quite slim. Now I could change my strategy and purposely target a Japanese audience, I could talk about things that I'm doing in Japan, I could perhaps give people useful tips, things that might help them, particularly if they're an expat in Japan. But if I were to do that, then that wouldn't really be the spirit of this is horror. And I think that's something we have to remember with social media to be authentic to us and be authentic to our brand. If I start using it just as a way for me to go viral, or for me to make money, then I might as well just got a different part time job, it would then have nothing to do with my writing and nothing to do with this Zahra. So anyway, I wanted to pass some of those thoughts on to you. I'm gonna keep continuing this experiment for the next month or so. So I will keep you posted on things I'll let you know if I discover anything else. But it does seem like it's a good network to be a part of to get your work to get yourself out there. And perhaps what is most exciting about tick tock is that 90% plus of the people that it will get your videos out there too. They're not people following you, they're not your fans. So you've got the potential to make a new fan, to get a new reader, whatever it is that you're after, with every single post. So I do think that tick tock is worth exploring. And I do think that, for better or for worse, and to be honest, I think for better and for worse. Video content and video, social media is a direction that things are going in. It is underutilized opportunity. So I would urge you to consider it. But at the same time I was talking a little bit. Fellow right, Aaron, This Is Horror, staff member and news editor Kev Harrison, and it isn't great, really is that, you know, we're writers. So we're probably not people who necessarily want to be on camera, or particularly fry of doing that. And yet, this is the way that the world is going. You know, it's as if we all have to become presenters, but I think whatever you do, just remember to be authentic to you that that is the key there. Don't phony in just do what you would do. And so for a number of people, they are not showing their faces, or their kind of editing in a way that is this them and it's just real. So don't Don't be someone else. Just be you. Put clips out, put animation out if that's what you're good at. But you know you use the network for your own gain. Don't let it use you. I hope some of this has been helpful. But either way, I'll catch you in the next episode. More TikTok from Jason Pargin, more Zoey ashe talk. Future project talk is a fascinating second part. As I said before, we've got Rachel Harrison coming up soon. So if you want to submit a question for her, do that at https://www.patreon.com/thisishorror. But until next time, take care yourselves. Be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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