A People’s History of Hot Pot [gp]
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June 20th, 2022

[ Guest post by @scearpo. ]

Hot Pot was a groupchat that existed through the end of 2020 and through 2021, forming the origins of Remilia Collective and as an engine of content and inspiration mined in its projects. Every member was curated and screened for their virtue, engagement, and artfulness, and encouraged to post in a mode of performance, which often accreted into distinct new literary modes and memes that were freely released out onto the public timeline after a period of internal percolation.

I had the experience of being in the general sphere of the timeline where Hot Pot’s poured their work out onto, at first only vaguely aware of its existence, until I came to learn behind the veil of most of the most interesting moments and projects I saw form in my time on Twitter, it was invariably members of the same groupchat perpetuating it, like some shadowy timeline illuminati designed to entice me. One day I suddenly found myself invited in, and having survived a screening period, am proud to have become a staple member of the chat. As one of the later additions to become a core member of the collective, Charlotte asked me to write this piece to provide my perspective on the group as I’ve known it.

The Externalized Consciousness

The Hot Pot name comes from the chinese dinner, which involves perpetually simmering a broth at the center of a table, surrounded by a variety of ingredients which each guest can choose to add to the pot.

The process is a perfect metaphor for the performative groupchat: each member is an ingredient contributing their own distinct flavor to the broth, which also imprints the collective flavor back onto the individual. Hot Pot was an elevated microcosm of all social groups I’ve participated in previously, sharped by selectivity, motivated towards higher ideals, incentivized by rapid activity, and wholly unique.

Every Hotpotter was encouraged to express their thoughts with absolute uninhibited sincerity. We often introduced new members with a paraphrase of only this refrain: “The only rule of hot pot is post hard and neverstop. No backspaces, no tabbing out, inject yourself in and give yourself up to the group hyperstream.”

Like the best groupchats, Hot Pot had the self organizing capacity and power expansion mechanisms of a sophisticated think tank, the playful chaotic organic social organizing tendencies of a popular clique school cafeteria table, the fuzzy childlike safe expression feeling of a sacred grove garden sanctuary, and the built in natural defense mechanisms of a CIA trained clandestine psyops insurgent group.

Uninhibited posting is achieved through the act of performance. Performative posting is the bread and butter of every hotpotter. Rhetoric exists in a halfway state between satirical entertainment and stark sincerity in varying degrees per statement. It is through performance that we can explore ideas outside of the realm of comfort, a necessary process for encountering ideas beyond the familiar.

The act of participating in an external consciousness demands clarity, humor, and a sense of comfortable freedom. Nobody can curtail the natural human reactions of judgment and peer pressure which are inevitabilities in any social environment; but instead of being negatively utilized for drama between peers, it can be positively utilized to incentive virtuosity. Fueled by the laughter and emojis of our peers, we seek to state the most relatable, the most entertaining, the most beautiful, the most shocking, the most hilarious, and the most enlightening of things to each other. In this environment, performative posting incentivizes activity through the dopamine rush of attention, and in return, it is through this posting by which we sharpen our minds and souls.

Towards the end of its life, Hot Pot suffered from a hack from some of our opposition, who violated our privacy in a bid to leak out of context screenshots to try and cancel Milady. It was almost successful, with the content misread by influencers and journalists alike, taken as fully literal leading them into a kind of contemporary satanic panic. But of course, the nature of performative posting is an essential component to Milady and Remilia as a whole, so it was quite quickly understood to be what it was by the only audience that mattered: our own.¹

It’s worth pointing out, the ability to be edgy is crucial for freedom of expression. If people do not feel comfortable to say whatever’s on their mind through some constant self regulating caution, they lose the connection to any collective consciousness that occurs within the group. Anyone can understand the magic of socializing with complete comfort. Nobody enjoys being watched, nobody enjoys being policed.

Cafe Environment

Above all, groupchats are about writing. It’s about meaningful conversation.

Long form writing is the physical manifestation of thought in a medium best suited for network communication. The written word is the best balance between accessibility and speed of consumption. If you are not writing, you are not thinking.

The ancient Greeks were not the first philosophers, they were merely the first to write down their thoughts in detail. The world’s greatest ideas are meaningless if they die with the mind that discovered them. An idea is equally worthless if left unsharpened.

Information is a biological entity which exists beyond the material plane. Ideas are bacteria, they must spread and evolve through multiple hands until they are fully fleshed out into their platonic ideal. These principles cement the fundamental importance of debate and conversation.

Conversation is the highest ideal of social interaction and the degradation of society can be partially attributed to the discouragement of conversation in daily life. As lounges become unprofitably shut down and the state wages war on tobacco, the western population is herded into an unspoken shuffle of consumption and seclusion.

The groupchat is the new cafe where individuals can bond, strengthen, and develop each other. The conversational venue is the foundation for all of civilization. It is the campfire our ancestors sat, ate, and danced around. It is the long table where Jesus broke bread with his disciples at the Last Supper.

Civilization begins and ends in the places where men conversate. The Cafe Central in Vienna was host to the likes of Lenin, Stalin, Freud, Tito, and countless other political and historical figures. The likes of Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Picasso shared cigarettes in famous Paris cafes such as the Closerie des Lilas. Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, DMX, and Notorious B.I.G. would have rap battles at the same lunch table in the Brooklyn high school they attended. Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam all had sets in the Central Saloon in Seattle long before they were world famous. The Ancient Agora was the public space where Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and countless other philosophers spent time and debated their ideas.

Politics, art, and history follow along veins of significance intersecting with liminal windows of opportunity. At these intersections are centers of socialization, where seemingly leisurely discussion paves the roads towards immortality in the memories of our descendants.

The groupchat is the new social center. The cafes, lounges, and forums which incubate history defining thoughts are now digital. They can be created, curated, and maintained with unprecedented ease.

Shared Will

Hot Pot was a singular organism comprised of collective organized will towards common purpose: The happiness, prosperity, and improvement of everyone inside the groupchat. It is an external consciousness for each of its members, proliferating expanded thought through sharpening ideas in a dojo of discourse.

The inner values of Hot Pot maintain shared commitments that Remilia as a whole upholds: a rejection of ugliness, of scarcity mentality, of slave mindset, of atheism and blackpills, in favor of strong conscious virtues like honor, respect, loyalty, faith and purity.

This bedrock of agreed virtues serves to unify the group, and creates an environment that turns good individuals into great individuals–but not everyone can rise up to the challenge. Those who succeed will often find themselves alienated from stagnating peers; and those who fail are screened out, something that does result in a lot of bitterness.²

We saw our groupchat a safe haven from the ugliness and mediocrity of the average world. The exclusivity burns at people who frequently asked to join, not understanding its not a judgement of their inherent quality or virtues (though it very likely could be) but also their synchronicity with the group as a whole.³

However there is no particular reason it has to be unique in this way. Hot Pot is just one group. This type of groupchat can easily exist at scale. The experiences we have fostered in Hot Pot act as the foundation for Remilia Chat, with the goal of introducing the quality and energy we have tapped into over the past 2 years into something accessible and scalable on the new internet.

Groupchats of the Future

The medium is the message remains true in the context of communication apps. Our experience experimenting with migrating our groupchat across various chat platforms has made clear how each unique featureset and UX imparts its own flavor onto the nature of the Hot Pot broth.

The groupchat’s vibrations are defined by the specific response time of typing, the latency of messages, pictures, videos, voice messages, etc, and the availability and implementation of emoji reacts⁴, GIFs, stickers, ranks, and other quality of life features. Each specific decision an app’s developers make changes the feeling and social mechanisms of a chat with extreme consequence.

Our collective experiences together inform the final chosen ground for the groupchat: A chat built to our exact specifications by our own members, not only seeking the features wanted by ourselves, but needed for the Network as a whole. Remilia Chat.

The trials and errors of Hot Pot and the prior experiences in other chats and forums by each of its members all contribute to Remilia Chat’s construction. Various preferences, customization options, and added features are considered, optimized, and implemented in order to create the perfect chat. At this stage, Hot Pot has almost been re-oriented into a live testbed of the ideal userbase for our highly opinionated new platform.

As constant improvement in software provides new chat features, humanity rapidly develops new ways to process communication within the Network.

While much can be speculated on various features pilfered from the best parts of its predecessors, real time and exocortices are both extremely important developments the minds behind Remilia have experimented with, prototyped and evangelized for years. One of Remilia’s founding goals was to bootstrap the funding to develop the vision in full: a combination of real-time communication⁵ and personal wiki databases to create a distributed learning network that uplifts all its users.

These features combined will amplify the process of collating one’s own social environment which every human being performs unconsciously when networking in real life. This is a process which we had been performing through jerry rigging existing apps, and I’m very excited to see developed into a comprehensive ecosystem not just for everyone’s use, but for my own, too. Everything I’ve had the opportunity to witness so far is a prototype for what Remilia is building next, and I’m very honored to be a part of it.


Footnotes

  1. Hot Pot was a chat chosen specifically for bright individuals who are mature enough and sincere enough to acknowledge that a statement is not a sincere reflection of belief. This does not include everyone out there.
  2. For these reasons, many standing outside the gates of Hot Pot have accused it of being some kind of cult. It begs the question: What makes a cult different from a friend group that just maintains high standards? A cult’s primary creepy factor comes from an inability to leave, isolation and imposition of unhealthy obligations on its members. Hot Pot is not only supremely easy to leave, it’s nearly impossible to join. It goes without saying, even if you were aware of Hot Pot’s existence, you would most likely never be allowed to join. Even once you’re inside, it remained a challenge to remain in. Maintaining standards among your peers should be normalized, not demonized.
  3. The exclusivity was in part enforced by Twitter’s user groupchat limitations. The greatest value organizing on Twitter has to Hot Pot is the simple user-friendly interface combined with the ease of Tweet forwarding and therefore cross pollination of social circles on Twitter as a whole; as well as the ease at which new members could be dropped into the chat, often without warning, straight from the timeline. Its drawbacks were the various bugs, DM limits, lack of administrative function, chat capacity, and transient limitations of archive or scroll back capacity, and the issue of nukeblocking–-Hot Pot would exist perpetually in a chaotic state where any single member could nuke the entire groupchat by blocking each member. The most active members would often find themselves switching to alts just to be able to continue a line of discussion because they exceeded 1000 messages in a 24 hour period, often requiring members or other alts to be temporarily kicked just to make room. The limited capacity of 75 members, which dwindles as accounts deactivate or become suspended (their account taking up a slot as a “ghost”), led to strict activity prioritization. If you weren’t active enough, you got kicked.
  4. e.g. Emoji reacts deserve extensive study for their role in socializing online. Hot Pot, like many other groupchats, categorizes response through assigning reacts to exceptional posts. Hotpotters collect reacts like trophies for making posts that demonstrate humor, cogency, or raw emotional impact on their peers. The emoji itself is a function of chatting online which isn’t given too much thought, but distinguishes itself as an evolution in communication, stemming from the natural playful experimentation with written language in the form of emoticons.
  5. By real-time, I mean showing each letter as its typed; allowing the pace, corrections, and revisions of someone’s chatting cadence to every active member to be made visible before a message is made permanent. Real-time contains a vibrant energy which enhances the chat experience, similar to that of talking to someone in real life. It curtails the inconvenience of being on call, allowing users to do other things as they would in a normal chat, while maintaining that extra pulse which compels the user to chat longer, post harder, and connect more meaningfully to their peers. Remilia’s founder and Hot Pot’s progenitor Charlotte Fang has long been focused on bringing a successful real-time chat into use by the general public on the Network, encouraging multiple devs over the past several years to implement real-time; releasing a prototype during the I Long For Network Spirituality art show in the summer of 2021, displayed on a monitor with a live feed webcam and available keyboard in a New Zealand gallery.
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