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

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The internet was very nice this week. Highlights: Carly Rae Jepsen’s emotions, Page Six, the success of Wikipedia, the world’s loneliest whale, the banal brutality of bodies, Jordan Casteel, DevaCurl, Valentine’s Day on TikTok (and Twitter), a Hot Cheetos bath bomb, and the Democratic debate. 

1. Longreads: Carly Rae Jepsen’s Exhilarating, Emotionally Intelligent Pop Music

I LOVE Carly Rae Jepsen profiles and reviews! I might even love reading about Jepsen as much as I love reading about Rihanna (although the only song by Jepsen I can recognize is “Call Me, Maybe”). 

My father has always called me his “sensitive one,” and maybe the reason I love reading about Jepsen so much is that in the “maximalist sentiment” of her music, she “roams these vistas of the heart, shepherding those of us whose thick, cumbersome emotions render us lonely and overwhelmed.” I’m known for being dramatic at times (I’m a double Sagittarius), and for me, her allure lies in her dedication to exploring the fullness of emotions. 

2. Enquire: The Secret History of Page Six

I’m not going to lie, I love a good gossip column or tabloid. The other day my boss even brought one into work from me. Page Six, the New York Post’s gossip column, is a paragon of gossip columns (yes, such a thing exists). Page Six “is an institution built on tipsters, anonymous sources, and old-­fashioned reporting. Appearing in it means you aren’t just a success in your line of business; you are a true boldfaced name. You matter.” But the column is also an anomaly amongst gossip columns. It is “a column in a newspaper that is printed on paper [that] has managed to grow. Yes, it has a website and a Twitter feed, and there was even a TV show. But mostly, it’s still something you flip to rather than something you click on. #MeToo may have caused it to check its conscience. TMZ may have made it work harder. Social media may have given celebrities more power to control the news, taking some of the wind out of Page Six’s guess-what-we-just-saw urgency. And yet to the people who run the world, or certain parts of it, Page Six still matters.” Damn, this is juicy! 

3. Wired: Wikipedia Is the Last Best Place on the Internet

I love Wikipedia and honestly, I use it all the time. I read it when I want an overview of a new obsession. And I read it when I’m bored. Founded in 2007, “today Wikipedia is the eighth-most-visited site in the world. The English-language version recently surpassed 6 million articles and 3.5 billion words; edits materialize at a rate of 1.8 per second,” and it is the only nonprofit in the top 10 websites. Similar to “Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, it broadcasts user-generated content. Unlike them, it makes its product de-personified, collaborative, and for the general good. More than an encyclopedia, Wikipedia has become a community, a library, a constitution, an experiment, a political manifesto—the closest thing there is to an online public square.” The website is “built on the personal interests and idiosyncrasies of its contributors. You could even say it is built on love.”

4. The Atavist Magazine: 52 Blue

Each week Longform picks a “Best Article” from the past to highlight. This week Longform chose this article by Leslie Jamison on 52 Blue, a blue whale that sings at 52 hertz, far higher than the species’ typical frequency of 15 and 20 Hz. 52 Blue is often known as the loneliest whale because, as an analysis described the sound:

No other calls with similar characteristics have been identified in the acoustic data from any hydrophone system in the North Pacific basin. Only one series of these 52-Hz calls has been recorded at a time, with no call overlap, suggesting that a single whale produced the calls. […] These tracks consistently appeared to be unrelated to the presence or movement of other whale species (blue, fin and humpback) monitored year-round with the same hydrophones…

We do not know the species of this whale, whether it was a hybrid or an anomalous whale that we have been tracking. It is perhaps difficult to accept that […] there could have been only one of this kind in this large oceanic expanse.

This is the story of the discovery of the loneliest whale. 

5. The New Inquiry: Banal Brutalities

I went back and forth for a couple of days on whether or not I should include this essay this week. I decided to include it because of how much I’ve thought about it. Sophie Helf writes about her relationship with the alienation she feels from her body, where her “legs both end just a few inches below the knee now, soft pink scar tissue seaming the ends together.” In an undisclosed event, Helf reflects on “how brutal [it was] to have my life cleaved so cleanly in half into a ‘before’ and ‘after’ via the cleaving of my body. When I was told what had happened… there was no gentleness to it. The doctor was abrupt. But I understand the doctor’s directness now, because what happened was ugly and sudden. Why tiptoe around it when the rest of my life was going to be shot through with this very brutality?” 

I’ve read this essay at least three times this week, and still have the urge to go back. I sent it to a friend that said “It’s so painful and beautiful but also v quick, kind of very abrupt. I wish it were way longer,” but I think its abruptness is the point. 

Jordan Casteel

6. New York Times: Jordan Casteel Won’t Let You Look Away

Jordan Casteel is having a moment right now. Her first museum show in New York opened this week at the New Museum and features “nearly 40 canvases spanning seven years.” Casteel, who only paints people of color, is known for her “colossal portraits of friends and neighbors, works celebrated for their tenderness, keen social commentary and technical brio.” I’ve never seen any of her work in person, but will hopefully make a trip to see this exhibition. 

7. NPR: DevaCurl Faces Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Hair Loss

The natural hair internet and world is losing their shit over this DevaCurl lawsuit. DevaCurl is one of the most dominant brands in the natural hair care market and is being sued for allegedly causing “scalp irritation, damaged hair and hair loss.”

I have used DevaCurl shampoo and conditioner for years and personally have not noticed any of these negative side effects. However, I have never exclusively used DevaCurl products (plus my hair is not the best example as I swim obsessively and don’t take the best care of it), I’m always using a different brand’s moisturizers, and frequently using a specialized shampoo for chlorinated hair. 

I don’t know if I’ll buy more of their products in the future, but I’m definitely going to use the half liter of shampoo and conditioner I have left. 

8. Twitter: Valentine’s Day

I saw this last weekend and cannot stop watching it! LMFAO. It is definitely my favorite thing I’ve seen over the past week, and a must-watch for any horny couples that got frisky on Valentine’s Day. 

9. Twitter: Hot Cheetos Bath

I’ve been thinking about this video since I first saw it and I, as with almost everyone that has watched, have so many questions. Like, why would you take a bath in Hot Cheetos?!? Amongst health concerns, it seems like an expensive bath, one that I’m too broke for.

10. NBC: Democratic Debate in Las Vegas

I’ve yet to watch this Democratic debate, but from all accounts, Mike Bloomberg got OWNED by Elizabeth Warren. V excited to sit down and watch the whole thing sometime this week. 

All images taken from reference articles. Have a suggestion for next week? Email afoehmke@bmoreart.com with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”

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