The Internet is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week

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The internet was super boring this week. Highlights: Naomi Wolf and her Ludacris career, insinuations and facts are different, before and after the Central Park Five, the suicide epidemic amongst white men in America, Kristen Arnett’s debut novel which sits in the pocket of time, Lana Del Rey told us about herself, holograms are a form of ‘ghost slavery,’ AirDropping can be used for a lot of different things, Chris Evans looks v good with acrylics, and some people are born to be parents. 

1. New York Times: Naomi Wolf’s Career of Blunders Continues in ‘Outrages’

This is one of the funniest book reviews I have ever read. It rivals Jeff Weiss’ review of Post Malone in the Washington Post. Naomi Wolf is WILD, and her “books are lit by a strange messianic energy, shored up by dubious data.” Throughout her career, Wolf has claimed that “a woman’s brain can allow her to become pregnant if she so desires, even if she is using birth control; that women’s intellects and creativity are dependent on their sexual fulfillment and, specifically, the skillful ministrations of a ‘virile man’; and that writing a letter to a breech baby will induce it to turn right side up.”

Wolf’s typical writing process seems to be that she “audits herself for some speck of dissatisfaction, arrives at an epiphany — one that might contravene any number of natural laws — and then extrapolates a set of rules and recommendations for all women.” Not that people haven’t always been tired of Wolf, but in the current state and attack on the media, her practice and claims are becoming more and more dangerous.

2. Lit Hub: Rebecca Solnit: How Internet Insinuation Becomes Campaign Fact

The closer we get to 2020, the crazier politics and media get. It used to be that “everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts, but opinions are supposed to be based on facts and when the facts are wrong or distorted or weaponized, trouble sets in.” Further, “one of the peculiarities of journalism is that ‘evenhandedness’ can degenerate into pretending that everyone is equivalent, that the fossil fuel industry and the scientists have equally valid positions on climate change, that everyone has to have a scandal and all scandals are approximately the same size.”

The notions have always been the case but are significantly amplified in a democratic field with over 20 candidates and our post-fact world. We all engage with the media and news cycle, and “the responsibility for the news rests with consumers as well as producers, or rather when we accept and repeat statements we too become producers of the beliefs that shape this world.”

3. The Cut: Before, and After, the Jogger

As the case known as the Central Park Five comes back into the public discourse with the recent premiere of Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us, “public reckoning almost always centered on the injustice to the five men themselves, who were innocent boys whose lives were destroyed by shoddy police work and systemic racism.”

Less often, however, do we discuss the women that were raped by Matias Reyes, a serial rapist who admitted to the crime in 2002, with the DNA results that confirm his confession. Many lives were destroyed by the case, including “Reyes’s many victims, who waited so long for justice, some who might not have been victims at all but for law enforcement’s staunch belief it had the right assailants.”

5. Rolling Stone: All-American Despair

There is an epidemic of middle-aged white men dying by suicide in America, specifically in the rural west. In the US men “average 22 suicides per 100,000 people, with those ages 45 to 64 representing the fastest-growing group, up from 20.8 per 100,000 in 1999 to 30.1 in 2017. The states with the highest rates are Montana, with 28.9 per 100,000 people; Alaska, at 27 per 100,000; and Wyoming, at 26.9 per 100,000 — all roughly double the national rate. New Mexico, Idaho and Utah round out the top six states.”At first, it was assumed that the spike was due to the recession in 2008, but a decade later the rate is still climbing, and understanding the cause is complex and complicated.

For me and for many others “It’s easy to bash white middled-aged men in America,” and empathizing with them can be difficult. And as Stephen Rodrick, a white man and author of this article, writes “no group in the history of the world has been given and squandered more than the white man. Yet the American white man is responsible for enough suicides annually that Madison Square Garden could not hold all the victims. And no matter how privileged, that’s somebody’s dad, someone’s friend, someone’s brother and someone’s husband.”

6. NPR: Macabre And Irreverent, ‘Mostly Dead Things’ Is A Satisfying Journey

I’ve been reading reviews of Kristen Arnett’s book, Mostly Dead Things, all week, and although I hate reading novels I really want to. The book follows Jessa, a Floridian taxidermist who’s father has just died by suicide, and is set in the emotional space of grief, where only the “edges of memories” can be grasped. Taxidermy is an inherited profession in Jessa’s family and a fitting metaphor, for just as she “learned how to clean, skin, position, and mount dead animals to look forever — if rigidly — life-like, she has also tried to shape and understand her own past as a singular, unchanging narrative that can remain fixed in place, accessible whenever she needs it, even if it, too, is dead.”

7. Vogue Italia: I’m writing my future. Lana Del Rey

Wow! Lana Del Rey is beautiful and so are these pictures by Steven Klein! I don’t even know what she wrote, but does that really matter? No, because these photographs are worth more than that.

8. The Guardian: ‘It’s ghost slavery’: the troubling world of pop holograms

I’m not supposed to watch Black Mirror because it makes me super paranoid, but I always want to! In the new season, Miley Cyrus plays a pop star named Ashley “whose latest marketing gimmick is ‘Ashley Too,’ a miniature talking robot toy that replicates both her Pepto-Bismol hairdo and platitude-spouting persona. The episode’s trailer ends with Ashley Too acquiring potty-mouthed sentience, screaming for her owner to ‘get this [USB] cable out of my ass! Holy Shit!’” and the episode is centered on one main question “if someone’s essence can be transplanted into a mechanised clone, where do we end and robots begin?”

As late capitalism ensues, more and more celebrities are starting to include holograms in their shows. “It’s a given that celebrity image is built on smoke and mirrors. But we’re in a curious spot today, where the music industry is manoeuvering to convince audiences that the veneer of an artist’s presence is a compelling substitute to watching a flesh-and-blood performance.” Further, it is one thing if the performer is alive and consenting, but another thing entirely if a person has died. For music journalist Simon Reynolds it is a form of “ghost slavery.”

9. The Atlantic: When Grown-Ups Get Caught in Teens’ AirDrop Crossfire

I use AirDrop a lot and have taught a lot of people older than me how to use the Apple feature, which allows for the sharing of files between Apple devices via WiFi and Bluetooth. The service is built into all iPhones, and as schools are cracking down on social media, more and more teens are using AirDrop to share memes and other images in mass to whoever has AirDrop enabled on their phone.

But, since “AirDrop is a feature that is automatically included on every iPhone, not a social-media app, there’s no moderation or reporting tools, nor can anyone get banned from the service for sharing graphics or sexual images like you could on Instagram, for instance.”

9.5. Twitter: Chris Evans

The internet has been filled with The Avengers, but mostly Chris Evans, with photoshopped acrylic nails, long weaves, and silk caps this week. Like this meme is too perfect?

10. The Believer: A Natural Mother

I’m not really sure what to think about this article. It is one of the most interesting stories I read this week, but also weird and complicated.

When Vivia, who is intellectually disabled due to a childhood accident, announced to her family that she wanted to have a child around her thirtieth birthday her family objected. While there was no way to prove she would be a bad mother, “her diet was poor (staples were quesadillas and sugary juices), she needed a lot of sleep (nine hours a night at least), she didn’t have a serious partner, she lost her patience quickly—and what about helping a child with homework?” Determined, Vivia adopted Emma, a doll, instead.

*All images taken from reference articles*

Have a suggestion for next week? Email with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”

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