Scott Adams is Periscoping

He stands perpendicular to the TV in his empty living room so when he holds out the camera we can see both the TV and Scott Adams in the same frame. I won’t talk much, I’ll just watch it with ya, he says.

He looks back and forth between TV and phone screen. Because the lens of the reverse camera is focused on Scott Adams, the TV appears entirely washed out on Periscope: a rectangular white glow punctuated by colorful bits of talking head and banner graphic.

We are watching a press conference, apparently. Scott Adams looks at the TV. You are supposed to be following along on your TV at home.

Scott Adams looks at his phone screen. Confetti-colored comments fly up the left hand side, mostly stuff like CNN IS FAKE NEWS and this is boring. Sometimes when Scott Adams looks at his phone screen he agrees out loud and sometimes he reads the comments without responding.

Scott Adams looks back at the TV. Ever attuned to the niceties of rank, he scoffs at the second-row seat assigned to a major reporter. He promises to explain Syria and the whole chemical bombs thing. He exudes the depilated intensity of a guru selling enlightenment by way of sexual liberation.

Scott Adams looks back at his phone screen. A commenter has objected: they don’t have a TV. They can’t follow along at home. They tell Scott Adams to turn up the volume. Scott Adams blinks and thinks about it. More volume for the TV means less attention for Scott Adams. Should he accede?

To alleviate loneliness online is a delicate transaction. Scott Adams wants his audience to accompany him. He wants the humming presence of their adoration. But his audience wants Scott Adams to accompany them, in the sense a parent accompanies a child to school or music accompanies a hero or video or shopping. The two needs overlap only partially. Without an equitable balance the whole thing will collapse.

He looks off camera and in a soft voice says to someone Can you turn up the volume?

More commenters yell at him. They are making a textual ruckus. Scott Adams appears distant, thoughtful, a little rubbery. Behind the mask dispassionate calculations whir away at naturally gifted plus assiduously optimized speed. He considers the situation from all angles. He weighs his options.

They don’t have TVs. They don’t have large, empty or nearly empty living rooms. They are totally indifferent to what he, Scott Adams, wants: an audience watching him watch TV, comforting him with their silent obedient distant warm presence.

Are they disgruntled? Let them vent their disgruntlement. Scott Adams has a finger to the pulse of the main vein. No sign escapes him. How could he have mastered the art of persuasion without having mastered the science of listening? A continuous stream of data flows in, pure will flows out, rationally organized and packaged for action. He won’t let them ruffle his feathers.

But if their desperation is greater, so is their flexibility. Plenty of icons of logic and power clamor for their homage.

True, Scott Adams’s audience needs what Scott Adams offers more than he needs what they offer. He has a large, well-furnished living room and apparently at least one captive witness to watch him being watched while he watches TV. They on the other hand, the audience, are desperate. They comment like crazy. They really need this. But they can get it elsewhere. He can’t. And so he submits to their will.

He switches to front-facing camera. Now we see his TV. Just the TV. We can’t see Scott Adams anymore. The only person who can see Scott Adams is his mute companion. From the couch she watches Scott Adams hold his phone up to the flatscreen wall-mounted TV, three feet away from it. The configuration and thus the balance of power have changed: where before she was watching Scott Adams be watched while watching TV, now she is watching Scott Adams watch his audience watch TV.

Scott Adams zooms up on the face of a reporter sitting in the front row and says She knows she’s on camera, she knows the camera is watching her so she tries to look serious while also looking attractive. He ad-libs her interior monologue: Serious, serious. Ask a question! Oh! Don’t touch my nose, don’t touch my nose!

The press secretary is asked about Syria and the whole chemical bombs thing. While she is answering, Scott Adams promises to explain it better than her. He zooms in on her lips. Her talking lips fill the screen.

The presser concludes. Scott Adams switches back to reverse camera and takes us into his “man cave” to explain Syria and the whole chemical bombs thing, which explanation dovetails at its conclusion into an analysis of Trump’s genius use of a persuasion technique Scott Adams calls the New CEO Move. Naturally, Trump excels at this. The trick is to “create your brand” as soon as possible. Trump wastes no time in creating his brand: this is part of his genius.

Scott Adams answers a question from the comments and promotes his latest content.

We hear the door to his man cave open. Whoever is there says nothing. Scott Adams looks over, looks back at his phone. There is something reaper-like about this mute companion who accompanies Scott Adams wherever he goes in his big empty mansion. She casts an invisible shadow. She enters like an indescribable reminder. It is as if Scott Adams would disappear without her there to bear witness, like her presence substantiates and validates his, but as though the price Scott Adams must pay for this witness is his life, or at least his money, eventually, when the time comes to collect.

Scott Adams cannot see his audience. All he sees are fleeting handles on a screen. Left alone, in his heart of hearts he cannot believe they exist. It is her witness that confirms them as real. In return for that reassurance, she takes a piece of Scott Adams’s own self and squeezes, hard. His manly independence, his impregnable authority, the wellspring of his power: squeezed and massaged, in silence, squeezed and massaged.

Scott Adams signs off, until next time. He is sophisticated, childlike, sensible, maybe insane.