Jessica Burn Notice

Why I don’t subscribe to Doomer Wildfire, and you probably don’t want to either.

I have a problem with Jessica Wildfire’s influence brand because she habitually platforms fatalism and pseudoscience as a monetized influencer. I use the term brand, because we have no way to know what’s behind this online persona. Not all fellow travelers are allies, and sometimes influencers are not even fellow travelers.

The photo is of a rectangular glass cake pan with contents that appear to be on fire with the fire being the only source of light illuminating the cake pan in yellow light, sitting on an old coil burner electric stove top next to a counter with oven mitts.

In an essay talking about a fear of possible shortages of standard medicines, she places links for purchasing dubious preventatives for covid. Jessica Wildfire listed copper nose wands and an unproven nasal spray before masks and vaccines. These pseudoscience products have been heavily promoted on social media targeting especially high risk people who are finding it increasingly difficult to avoid exposure because of the abandonment of public health measures.

The image is a screenshot of text that states The best course of action here is to not get sick. I’ll tell you what I’m doing: We donated three excellent air purifiers with HEPA filters to my daughter’s school. We bought Coway and Rabbit Air. Here’s a list of solid brands. We’re using Enovid. We’re using Copper Rescue. We’re wearing 3M Aura masks everywhere we go. We’re not really going anywhere. — and the list continues with other things
(Note: After pushback in the comments about putting masks below unproven remedies, she moved those items below masks on the list, but still kept the product links.)

Science-Based Medicine’s Steven Novella debunked the unproven copper wand treatment for cold virus back in 2019, explaining that, “a lot of modern snake oil is based on some science” and that it’s “extremely useful for marketing” — clearly all bunk stories start with a kernel of truth. Viruses and bacteria can’t live on copper. But apparently that’s about as far as its usefulness goes — maybe countertops. Some copper products are already on the FDA covid fraud list. There’s no good reason for sticking a wand up your kid’s nose. And since it’s marketed to go deeply it could far too easily result in injury. The other product placed in the list is NOT the first hormonal birth control pill from the 1960s, though it shares the same name. The drug is a nasal spray that’s on a U.S. FDA import alert list as NOT known to be safe and effective as marketed. Also it’s only being studied as a potential treatment for covid — not a preventative — not even the people studying it view it to be like a vaccine or shield. But it has been heavily marketed on social media with a dishonest innuendo of prophylactic protection from transmission, something not even asserted in the study, but potentially appealing to those desperate to attend risky activities at a time when there’s a huge pressure campaign to unmask everybody. Even though this marketing has been expressly prohibited by the FTC.

I’ve not seen any disclosure that Jessica Wildfire is receiving money for product placement links. But some influencers, even big ones, fail to disclose direct payments. Some countries do not even require disclosure, and since we have no idea who this influencer really is, we don’t know where she is. And this isn’t the first time someone has wondered about that: Noel Holston sarcastically uses the headline: “The Truth about Jessica Wildfire” to write a piece on Medium about how he doesn’t know what the truth is about Jessica Wildfire — he says: “I couldn’t find where she went to college, much less where she teaches.”

The Truth about Jessica Wildfire by Noel Holston on Medium — March 13, 2022. “As for her being a “Top writer” in a variety of subjects, my searches turned up her blog, which cross-references her Medium contributions and Medium profile, and three slight books available for purchase on that have only a dozen or so purchaser reviews or star ratings each. No bylines at Slate, Salon, POLITICO, Reason, not even Huffington Post. And yet she’s credited on her Medium page as having 101K followers.”

A discussion between Matthew Remski and Julian Walker on Conspirituality podcast comes to mind — about how wellness influencers find “transitive properties that could move across different categories.” Finding multiple niche audiences is clearly a way to make money in the influence business. And much of the social media influencer economy is driven indirectly. An influencer covers a topic, or pushes a particular narrative or product, and they find that they can reliably get views, boosts, likes, paid patrons, and subscribers. It’s not that difficult to encourage — people are able to learn fast what products have this kind of money behind them and the preferred frame that reliably attracts money. Those with the cash to spend need only cast about for the eager. One need not be directly employed as a “Russian asset” or directly paid by a fossil fuel company or a specific billionaire — or anything so on the nose.

And if Jessica Wildfire is just a writer who happens to be a pro-Russia lefty, angry about the war, or seriously just feels Ukraine is losing, why express that by boosting right-wing guru Jordan Peterson with a link to Piers Morgan?

The image is a Tweet from Jessica Wildfire @JessicaLexicus It's crazy as hell that Jordan Peterson and Piers Morgan understand the war in Ukraine better than most politicians. ‘Naïve’ to think Russia will lose war, says Dr Jordan Peterson tweet includes a thumbnail picture of Vladmir Putin holding one arm up and dressed in an overcoat.

Yes, that Jordan Peterson.

The image is a Tweet from Dr Jordan B Peterson @jordanpeterson December 24, 2022 No more masks. Ever.

Jessica Wildfire promoted the libertarian anti-mask anti-vax self-help fanatic right-wing influencer. She didn’t need to reference Jordan Peterson to write about Russia — she’s done that on other occasions.

Jessica Wildfire: Vladimir Putin Has Weaponized Food, His Secret Failsafe, June 9 2022. “They cheered when Russian tanks blew up. They treated war like a football game, because that’s all Americans understand anymore. Well, the fun’s over.”

I don’t know any Americans like that in real life. Who is she referring to? What is she even talking about? Many big money sources seem interested in boosting demoralizing content — or in the words of Leonid Volkov quoted in the New Yorker, to make the discourse “so stinky that normal people won’t want to touch it.”

Jessica Wildfire could be promoting instead people calling on their member of congress about the concerns she shares about — pandemic, war, or whatever. That’s how actual policy change can happen. That’s why the right-wing organizes people to show up at school board meetings, to churn out letters to your Democratic congressman, and to get out the vote to elect any and all Republican candidates. But Jessica Wildfire won’t tell you that — instead, in May 2022, she says without citing evidence (because it’s not really true), that politics is probably too slow to be of much use.

Jessica Wildfire: May 8, 2022. “There’s still something to be said for engaging in the political process, but it’s slow and grinding work. It won’t save us in the short term. Political activism takes a long time.”

No it actually isn’t and doesn’t. Just over a year ago there was a letter campaign I found on social media saying to write or call the White House to ask to have free N95s provided to the public, so I did, and a few weeks later President Biden made free N95s available to the public. All I did was use the White House contact page, it was hardly “grinding work” and it just took a couple minutes. And yet in January 2023, Jessica Wildfire insists, again without evidence (because it’s not true) that the government won’t make masks accessible, even though the Biden administration had made N95s available already in the past.

Jessica Wildfire: January 14 2023. “Our governments should’ve made masks accessible to everyone. But because they won’t, we’ve stepped up. My family is doing the government’s job for them, because it’s the only way to protect our child.”

This supposedly covid conscious writer fails to mention that there’s currently a letter campaign calling for the free N95 mask program to be restarted again. There are also multiple ways to advocate for masks in schools including lawsuits. Her piece says there are fine lines between advocacy and “badgering” — but since when is writing your elected officials called badgering? Heck, some activists are doing birddogginga valid political tactic. Characterizing people who lobby elected officials as “annoying” is silly. There’s a whole legitimate profession for it. These officials are elected and are supposed to respond to constituents, that’s how a representative democracy works.

Jessica Wildfire: January 14 2023. “In some cases, it really is too dangerous to advocate for masks and indoor air quality. In some places, it really will get you physically harassed or even attacked.”

Suggesting parents might be physically attacked for calling on elected representatives is a complete manipulation of reality via a cognitive trick called “System 1” autopilot hijacking — a well understood dishonest sales tactic. The assertion invokes the news stories you’ve heard about bizarre school board meetings where public officials have been intimidated. That’s a problem, but if you stop and think this through it really doesn’t hold up — that it is “too dangerous to advocate.” Physically attacked by who? A member of the school board is going to attack a parent? They’re the ones getting intimidated though, by parents or riled citizens. Hopefully she’s not suggesting you become one of them. How many school principals are going to physically attack a parent for sending a letter requesting HEPA filters in the classroom? She is invoking the stories of incidents at school boards that were actually designed to make civic engagement seem harrowing. Some people have been rude and unruly toward school board members over issues like mask mandates or Black History or trans students, but I can’t find any reports of any parents getting threatened, certainly not for asking for air purifiers. Sure there were some ridiculous pandemic denier accounts on Twitter who preposterously came out against air filters — probably purely as attention seeking — but that’s not real life. Getting physically attacked by school officials is just not a thing and I don’t know why Jessica Wildfire wants you to worry about it. She surely doesn’t think the only advocacy you can do is to show up at some school board meeting when Nazis are there and aggressively go toe to toe with them? Nobody sensible would float such an innuendo that advocating at schools might require going it alone against rogue astroturfed right wing phone company mobs

I find this all concerning though because there are other things from the Jessica Wildfire brand that seem to hint and dance around the topic of violence. Only just a little flirtation with being l’agent provocateur, of course. The vague suggestions that you become a prepper, or that you have a duty to get rude.

Conspirituality Podcast -136: Virtual Strongmen (w/Ruth Ben-Ghiat)

“With regard to strongmen, conspirituality folks fantasize about violence, but not too much violence. I think it’s a movement that needs its authoritarians to perform strength more than to exert it. And to me this suggests that they’re not really that dissatisfied with the status quo. Everybody wants a revolution, but these guys really want to make it happen through supplements and ball tanning and reciting course miracles.”

“They’re part of a depoliticization project.” 

— Matthew Remski, Conspirituality Podcast

There are still political options with a longstanding tradition, rooted in democratic norms, taking place right now, such as organizing to get federally funded ventilation and filtration upgrades in schools, or pushing for policies to ensure schools are up to air quality standards for virus mitigation. If you don’t want to participate in the political process, fine, but don’t dishonestly claim that it’s not happening.

Jessica Wildfire: January 14 2023. “I was persistent, even pushy. I said the uncomfortable things, that Covid was more like HIV than the flu, that Covid was never going away”

Jessica Wildfire suggests parents compare COVID to HIV when talking to the school — so that probably will increase the chances of being viewed with trepidation or skepticism, she’s not wrong about that. These weird niche social media silos are almost perfectly designed to encourage people with pandemic related concerns to sound similar to Qanon — reciting inaccurate talking points and remedies. Copper and silver, pastes or sprays, compare it to the flu, compare it to AIDS. Yes, this stuff would make most people uncomfortable. And what’s so weird about this is that there is simply no need to “do your own research” or make exaggerated claims since the documented facts on the CDC website are plain and speak for themselves about the very real risks of Covid and Long Covid. It’s been reported in Forbes, Fortune, Financial Times, and Bloomberg. No need to seek out fringe publications. The controversy is hype to keep eyeballs on social media, disconnected and endlessly searching and seeking instead of working to promote public health prevention measures politically and in the community. And Jessica Wildfire seems to bask in making herself and her target audience into solo weirdos with secret special knowledge and seems to luxuriate in making the most simplest of civic engagement sound monumentally hard.

Jessica Wildfire: January 14 2023. “Just remember, it’s obviously not going to be easy. It took us both a lot of energy. It was difficult. It was uncomfortable. We didn’t hedge or qualify. We laid down the grim facts, and we didn’t care if they thought we were paranoid or crazy.”

It doesn’t have to be this big a deal folks, it really doesn’t. And the truth is people are advocating, agitating, demonstrating, and commenting at public meetings, for better policies all over the U.S. — it’s not weird at all to be doing so, and I link to news stories about it in my newsletter regularly. Why does Jessica Wildfire not do that? And people are hardly alone in their efforts. But Jessica Wildfire’s Substack has multiple instances of promoting this ridiculous narrative of activism being so lonely, arduous, and difficult. Some letter campaigns involve just pushing a few buttons, for pity’s sake. So just stop the gaslighting. There are established organizations that already exist who are giving people tools with good information for advocating, and organizing to get equipment funded in schools. Groups are working to press their local governments and transit systems, or utilize legal levers. We’re not alone in some bleak world. We have each other. And the people involved in activism and advocacy — disclosure, I’m one of them — are hardly humourless bores with nothing but lamentations and critiques.

We certainly don’t need to dive into some weird gloomy balloon fever dream fantasy about being part of a network of disconnected cults. Why wallow in dark dystopian imaginings of the night? Any minute now I expect Jessica Wildfire to produce some John Titor content. The present situation is weird enough because a few rich libertarians want to push the idea that a mask requirement in a doctor’s office is tantamount to full communism. Jessica Wildfire’s offerings are hardly the only spin zones that trick people into pluralistic ignorance, believing that they’re a special minority when really our biggest concerns are the same concerns a majority of our fellows actually share. But some people won’t find the caring and passionate allies advocating with a bright vision if they stay stuck flirting with the event horizon of time sink think pieces written by clout chasing social media big shots. Community care is the solution to the problems we face as a civilization. Jessica Wildfire wants you to conflate hope with hopium, and maybe you’ll be complacent with despair, and believe the lie being pushed in the name of the Economy that avoiding sickness is a minority issue, when it’s not — it affects all of us — and nobody really likes getting sick. Hidden in plain sight, the truth is that most American voters want mask rules — not just want masks — most people want actual mask mandates.

About 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day in some way on April 22, 1970 and this environmental campaign started amid the turmoil of the Vietnam war — yet by the end of 1970 we had The National Environmental Protection Act & the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act by 1972. Two years. Nixon was the president at the time, by the way. Of course things change. Things change all the time. Normal changes quite easily in fact, and only change is constant. It’s not effortless, but no, Jessica Wildfire, political action doesn’t have to take a really long time. But it sure takes longer when it’s being sabotaged by influencers who discourage people from productive activities and direct people instead to false promise pseudoscience and an endless social media rabbit hole of informational learned helplessness.

Conspirituality Podcast -136: Virtual Strongmen (w/Ruth Ben-Ghiat)

“They don’t express political aspirations because the industry is narcissistic. It doesn’t really point itself toward any kind of collective action or the difficult work of party politics. None of these people are interested in building coalitions. They want to have affiliate networks, but they’re not going to do deep canvassing and try to convince people to vote. They want people to buy their shit.” 

“They’re part of a depoliticization project.” 

— Matthew Remski, Conspirituality Podcast

And if you think there’s no way a mask wearing writer could be a right-wing wellness influencer, I’m afraid I have to inform you about the red-brown alliance, the infiltration of left movements where chaos agents even mess with community support groups, and how far-right libertarian fever dreams have infiltrated liberal scientists with their weird religious ideas about how we need to do aggressive individualism and maybe even sacrifice human lives today in order to, brace yourself, create “value” in artificial simulated humans billions of years in the future. Yes this Longtermism stuff is that out there, and there’s tons of money being splashed around to push it everywhere.

Jessica Wildfire: May 8, 2022. “Progressive survivalism means taking care of yourself, so you can make a future for civilization, one based on sustainability and empathy. We don’t want to just fend for ourselves.”

Jessica Wildfire is an influencer by trade and so I don’t know what she really believes. I’m not saying she believes in anything. The point is that some people don’t realize the nature of her online presence and that influencers sometimes take advantage of those unfamiliar with advertising hooks and gimmicks that sell products and also ideas. To be an influencer of course means she has a way of ingratiating herself into hearts and minds by telling her audience what they want to hear. People see what they want to see because the influencer leaves things vague and open ended enough to facilitate that, while inserting the ads or narratives. It’s also quite alluring to be told you’re special, that you have special knowledge, that you’re smarter than other people. Maybe that you’ll survive when others won’t? Disease is neither fair nor just and this would qualify as ableism at best, or worse, could be characterized as eugenics.

I think most people would not actually buy into that if they engaged in critical thought about what that’s really saying. But most of the time people don’t think about it — we stay on autopilot. Or sometimes people also don’t want to believe it. There has been such fierce defense of her — almost like a lover’s defense might manifest. I’ve heard some claims multiple times from different sources which is a little suspicious, so I’d like to address them, since none hold any water and are based on people being either unaware or unwitting.

  • “But she has some pieces that give some good information sometimes.” 

You can’t say a broken clock is a good tool because it happens to show the correct time this minute or occasionally. When you boost a link to one article, people will subscribe, and get the other issues sent to their inbox that contain bullshit pseudoscience or unproven remedies, or messages erroneously telling people lies like We’ve worn out our vaccines and treatments. For someone who claims that she’s not anti-vax, she’s willing to depress the vaccine drive with that line, and this might also dissuade people from seeking still effective treatments if they do get infected. This could cost lives. A little good information? Is it really worth the cost? Good information is available elsewhere too and without the pseudoscience and de-motivational messaging.

I would not eat good food that was poisoned.

Broken clocks are wrong most of the day.

  • “She’s just a covid cautious person who got fed up and started a substack.” 

Except in September 2021 Jessica Wildfire’s substack was about how you can be a successful influencer like she already was.

The image is a screenshot of a list of Jessica Wildfire headlines from September 2021, Give Your Readers a Killer Opening Sep 25, 2021 Don't Worry About Sounding Like Someone Else Imitate everyone. Sep 24, 2021 You Don't Have to Spend All Day At Your Desk Writing happens everywhere. Sep 21, 2021 When Your Precious Blog Post Bombs Sep 19, 2021

Jessica Wildfire is hardly hiding her light under a bushel, and definitely didn’t start a Substack merely to sound off about the pandemic.

  • “She’s just a young journalist trying to make a name for herself and break into the business.”

But she doesn’t even use her own name. She’s not even trying to be a journalist either. She’s already broken into the influencer business, and she’s so much in the big time that other influencers back in 2018 were pointing to her work as a guide.

screenshot of a youtube video labeled The Secrets behind Jessica Wildfire’s Medium Success. The youtube channel is called Tom Kuegler and the channel has 162,000 subscribers. 3,497 views and was uploaded on July 16th 2018. The screencap is a video image of a young guy in a cityscape outdoors wearing a cap on his head on backwards and the caption reads Top writer in Humor, relationships, social media, creativity, culture, writing, entrepreneurship, self improvement, politics, life, life lessons

In 2020, she wrote stuff on Medium like “Please Stop Putting Idiots on The News,” and “The Left Has More in Common With the Right Than You’d Think,” and “How to Please Her Better in Bed,” and “My Husband Will Never Know I Used to Own a Sex Doll,” and by 2021 she was writing stuff on Medium with titles like: “Here’s How It Really Feels to Own an Entire Bitcoin,” and “We Don’t Live in a Democracy, and Maybe We Shouldn’t Try,” and, perhaps ironically, “Anger Porn Is Getting Us Nowhere. It needs to stop.”

She has hundreds of paid subscribers to her Substack, and 125,000 followers on Medium. Also 150 Ko-fi supporters. Even the most conservative estimates say she’s making some money at this gig, and her business predates the pandemic.

The image is a set of screenshots, one is a screenshot of a substack called OK doomer a safe place to doom and chill by Jessica Wildfire, red checkmark, hundreds of paid subscribers. One screenshot is from medium, Jessica Wildfire, 125K followers influencer also on substack the links are blacked out with marker in the screenshot. The third screenshot is of Ko-Fi Jessica Wildfire 150 supporters.

Listen, everyone needs a job, and some jobs suck, and many are not really making the world a better place, so this isn’t about judging the person or people who are behind the Jessica Wildfire brand. That’s not the issue here. It’s the fact that people are trying to tell me and others that she’s just a concerned citizen trying to educate people about covid, and that’s just not what’s going on here. I’m a little tired of coming across people who are spuriously asserting stuff along the lines that she’s just a girl standing before the cruel world speaking her truth and needs to make a little cash. Even if she posts a useful link once in a while or makes some obvious point the fact remains that she’s an influencer who seems to be motivated currently to push fatalist narratives on the topics of disease and war. She celebrates social media cargo cult programming into a dev null event horizon. If you haven’t heard these terms before: a null device discards all data written to it but reports that the write operation succeeded and computer programming code that serves no useful purpose but is included “ritualistically” is called “cargo cult” — and this does sound like what a lot of social media is all about, doesn’t it? Shouting into a void, we get feedback, but it’s merely a hollow echo of the tangible. In the 2016 documentary Hypernormalisation, Adam Curtis blamed this issue for a lot of problems in our world today.

Hypernormalisation Documentary, 2016, by Adam Curtis

“The liberals were outraged at Trump. But they expressed their outrage in cyberspace so it had no effect. Because the algorithms made sure that they only spoke to people who already agreed with them. Instead ironically their waves of angry messages and tweets benefitted the large corporations who ran the social media platforms. one online analyst put it simply – angry people click. It meant that the radical fury that came like waves across the internet no longer had the power to change the world. Instead it became a fuel that fed the systems of power making them ever more powerful.”

I think it’s important to be honest about this. People retweet or post a link and feel like they did something. And all that’s happened is that Jessica Wildfire has promoted unproven remedies, misinformation, and seems to be committed to promoting a sense of dark resignation. This influencer is on a gig, so let’s not pretend she’s just a rando blogger who’s giving people permission to doomscroll a bit as a treat. I don’t like people trying to gaslight me and other people about the truth of what’s going on in social media platforms right now. The truth is that people are being hardline demoralized by the flooding of the zone with confusion and moral disengagement. I would like to reject that shitshow, and keep the focus on community building, effective communication, and unadulterated science.

We don’t have to let all the noise in.