Interviews

Nobel Prize Winning Interview with Strobe Witherspoon

Hi everybody, I hope you’re all behaving!  As I’m writing these questions there is a big meeting in Cornwall where the leaders of the world have all flown planes to chat about climate change and the Euros are about to kick off, which is football….probably played in planes, the virus is still going strong in the UK…so whilst the world continues to fall apart, what better time to interview Strobe Witherspoon, author of one of the cleverest books I’ve read in ages.  OOF: An Online Outrage Fiesta for the Ages.

Q1: Wassup Strobe!  I hope you are well, how has life been for you during the pandemic? 

Hi!

My concept of time is no longer reliable. Misinformation on the Internet  took an even more sinister and destructive turn than when I wrote OOF. And  our ability to tell ourselves whatever story we want regardless of what’s happening in the real world has skyrocketed! Good job humans. Otherwise, same same.

Q2a:  Tell us a bit about OOF.

I think humanity’s greatest challenge right now is our inability to have a good faith discussion about the issues of the day. All other challenges succeed or fail from that. I realize that humans have struggled with this before, but the nature of this moment feels exceptional. The current media ecosystem is incentivized to create outrage and division, and productive exchanges become close to impossible in this environment. Also, it’s occurring at a scale (on the internet) that is unprecedented. OOF is essentially about that. It’s a story that takes on a life of its own. It’s so unhinged from reality and driven by cynical opportunists trafficking in anger that any real understanding and shared sense of reality becomes a pipe dream.

Q2b:  When I read OOF it gave me the feeling that the story had come alive and was almost writing itself, did the story play out exactly as you planned at the start?

My original plan was to tell the dumbest, angriest story possible via only very dry and dense academic journals. Turns out that had its limits. I did ultimately have a basic outline for the story that I stuck to. And I made a list of all of the different mediums that could be used to tell that story. As I went through the outline I decided which medium would work best to move the plot along and provide comic relief. I ended up using most but not all of the media formats on my list (never found a spot for those nuanced YOUTUBE comment debates).

Q3:  How did you come up with the idea and the technique you used to get the story over?

OOF is essentially a combination of the idea I mentioned above and another idea I had for a satirical twitter account that asked the question: what if a certain former first lady of the United States was an insightful social critic? I never did put that together, but it kind of exists from someone else! Link HERE:

Also, the term OOF was born out of this thing I wrote in 2018: You can read the piece HERE:

Q4:  Before I interview a person on here I like to stalk them online for a bit, I’ve found you to be very elusive…especially when you consider how social media is used in OOF…is that deliberate?  Are you super shy? Maybe you have a secret identity online?  (I think I’m on to something there with the secret identity, time to get the Gnomes on the google machine to track you down).

I did not want to use my real full name for this endeavour. But I will reveal it now. Strobe Westminster Swanson Carlson. I am, indeed, Tucker McNeal Swanson Carlson’s brother that he refuses to recognize. Tucker C, the heir to the Swanson fortune and a driving force behind some of the dumbest outrage fiestas ever has made me persona non grata at the Carlson family compound and the soon to be released labotomypillow product launch. But seriously, like most people, I’m simultaneously attracted to and repulsed by what happens when people share online. So I choose to split the difference.

Q5:  What is the weirdest thing you have ever seen online?

Because I’m a very literal person and a big fan, I would say: CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT WHAT STROBE THINKS IS WEIRD.

Q6:  Favourite book, favourite musician and favourite film please.

Animal Farm

Propagandhi

Dr. Strangelove

Just realising now that the crazy out of control plot of OOF is very much like Dr Strangelove. haha Brilliant.

Q7:  Have you ever grown a beard?

The Swanson Carlsons would hear of no such thing.

Q8:  Is your book self-published, why did you decide to go in that direction?

If this book was going to succeed it needed to come out sooner than later. So I put it out on my burgeoning imprint, Marginal Books.

Q9:  What’s your opinion of Gnomes?  The only good left in the world or are they super evil for jokingly getting Trump into power?

My favourite Gn words in order of least to most:

5. Gnarly

4. Gnat

3. Gnash

2. Gnome

1.  Gnocchi

So… not nearly as bad as Gnarly, but I would still probably prefer Gnocchi.

Q10:  What would be the perfect meal and who would you spend it with?

I guess I need to say Gnocchi here. How about Gnocchi surrounded by Gnomes?

Sounds perfect.

Q11:  What‘s next for you?  Any plans for a new book? 

The sequel will be called OOF OOF. Logline: When OOF wins the Pulitzer, an OOF occurs.

Practical task:  Nobody gets out of this part, I am doing a gnome gallery on my blog, can you create a piece of artwork based on Gnomes, can be any medium and you are welcome to name the piece. 

(very literal)

Massive thanks to Strobe for taking part in this interview and giving us a glimpse inside the mind of a beardless person with a fetish to be watched by gnomes as they eat gnocchi.

OOF is a book that I’m recommending to everybody, if you think the Internet is a scary place where people can lose their mind over the littlest things then go get yourself a copy of his book from HERE:

If you want to stalk/sue/complain Strobe online then he can be found in the following places:

Twitter

Goodreads

Facebook

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