The Internet is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles 8/9/23🔥

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I was exasperated by the internet this week. Highlights: Keke Palmer, Threads, Spill, Flyana Boss, cats, what sex work teaches us about history, “new normals,” saving Antarctica, re-inventing sails, and tasting water. 


Essence: Keke Palmer’s Boyfriend Tried To Publicly Embarrass Her And Ended Up Embarrassing Himself

Woah boi! Keke Palmer’s babydaddy decided to publicly slut shame her this week and the internet was NOT HAVING IT. Darius Jackson—who, again, is best known as Keke’s bd—welcomed their son, Leodis, in February, and Keke has been glowing ever since. For some reason, Jackson decided to tweet “it’s the outfit tho … you a mom” after a video of Keke being serenaded by Usher while wearing a sheer black dress went viral. At first, people thought he was joking, but then Jackson doubled down on his initial statement saying something about “we live in a generation where a man of the family doesn’t want the wife & mother to his kids to showcase booty cheeks to please others & he gets told how much of a hater he is…This is my family & my representation. I have standards & morals to what I believe. I rest my case.” 

Sir. “Like I know you ain’t on Keke Palmer’s phone plan on Keke Palmer’s wifi in Keke Palmer’s home watching Keke Palmer’s son telling Keke Palmer what Keke Palmer should be wearing as a mother.. BABY, THIS IS KEKE PALMER!” as @SomaKazima Tweeted. There is a lot to unpack in Jackson’s statement, and Elizabeth Ayoola beautifully does that here discussing postpartum depression and positivity, and toxic masculinity. People take Keke Palmer very seriously. This has not died down. The two no longer follow each other on social media


The Verge: Why Instagram is taking on Twitter with Threads

The girls are fighting! This week Instagram launched a standalone app—Threads—to compete against Elon Musk’s unpredictable Twitter. Threads is based on Instagram accounts, and automatically imports a users handle, bio, and who someone is following.

“Meta has been planning to release Threads, its self-described ‘sanely run’ version of Twitter, for a while. The backlash to Musk’s recent limiting of how many tweets people can see per day was a catalyzing event for getting the app out the door this week, according to internal company documents.” The app reportedly had 70 million users sign up in just one day. I’ve signed up, and while I have yet to spend much time there, I’m interested to see what happens with the app. 


Slate: My Week on Spill, the Invite-Only App Hoping to Be the New Black Twitter

As Twitter continues to digress under the tenure of Elon Musk, Meta isn’t the only company making a competitor. Mastodon, Bluesky, and Threads are all taking aim at Twitter users. But in June, Spill, the invite only “Black option” launched. “Created by two Black former Twitter employees, Alphonzo “Phonz” Terrell and DeVaris Brown, Spill gained further traction within the past week in light of Musk’s decision to set rate limits that cap how many tweets unverified Twitter users are allowed to see per day.” Touted as “visual conversation at the speed of culture” Spill has a 90 character limit, and text is overlaid image cards of photos, videos, or GIFs.

I have not been on the app (if anyone wants to send me an invite lmk!) but my friends who have, just as Nadira Goffe explains here, don’t quite know what to think of it yet. While they enjoy that it is a predominantly Black space, “Spill’s character limit makes it difficult to do some things that are easy on Twitter, like really engage in discourse or share further information via news articles or other posts.” Who knows “whether or not the Twitter vs. Threads battle will overshadow Spill’s existence” or what will happen when Spill opens to the general public, but I hope we give it a chance. And I hope I get to see what it is all about!


Complex: Fiery Rap Duo Flyana Boss Goes Viral With “You Wish”

Flyana Boss is inescapable on social media platforms right now. The rapping duo’s “You Wish” has amassed millions of views, and the group has released several lyric videos for the song garnering the support of legendary MCs such as Missy Elliott. The videos consist of the duo, “best friends Bobbi Lanea from Detroit and Folayan Kunerede from Dallas, [running] through various locations in their viral videos, such as a grocery store, a local fair, and more.”

Flyana Boss is fun and fresh and their “clever wordplay and references even caused a spike in Google searches for ‘Kanekalon,’ a brand of synthetic hair extensions. The rest of the song also finds Flynana Boss giving a nod to pop culture icons such as Nicki Minaj, Michael Phelps, Dr. Evil, and more.” I’m very excited to see more from them!


Hell Gate: Cat Fight

Katie Way’s essay on the dark side of New York cat rescues is one of the most chaotic, conflicting stories I’ve read in a while. The crisis mainly centers around Farhana Haq, a controversial trap-neuter-return or TNR advocate. For years other rescuers have accused Haq of animal neglect: Disposing of cats in “in black plastic trash bags, dumped with the rest of the garbage.” Hoarding cats in dirty, unventilated spaces where diseases are cultivated and spread. Cats dying shortly after leaving her care. All of this lead to a years-long whistle-blowing effort to remove the animals from her care.

What happened to these cats is absolutely devastating—no animals should be forced to live in the conditions described. When reading this, I also thought about the housing crisis in New York and the increase of people experiencing homelessness. Many of the names in this piece were understandably changed to protect people’s identities, and I couldn’t help but think of the viral tweet, Do white people know that the dogs in Flint don’t have clean water either? Have we tried that approach?


Aeon: The Horrors of Pompeii

We all know what is often referred to as the world’s oldest profession. Evidence of sex work can be found across time and cultures, and can teach us a great deal about civilizations of the past. Pompeii, the southern Italian city both destroyed and preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in August 79 CE, is no exception. “Eutychis, a Greek lass with sweet ways, 2 asses,” as graffito on a wall describes her, was a sex worker in Pompeii before its destruction. Guy D. Middleton takes us through history, depicting a lively brothel, and vivid picture of life in Pompeii on his journey to discover who Eutychis was, and how she fit into the fabric of ancient life.  


Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: Don’t call toxic wildfire smoke on the East Coast the ‘new normal’

Since 2020, it feels like every few months something catastrophic happens, but then, it is swept under the rug under the guise of being “the new normal.” Most recently, in my life at least, this happened with the Canadian wildfires that blanketed the Midwest and East Coast in a thick blanket of smoke.

At first, people were alarmed. Marshall Burke, an environmental scientist who tracks air pollution said, “It’s hard to believe to be honest, we had to quadruple check it to see if it was right. We have not seen events like this, or even close to this, on the East Coast before. This is a historic event.” And then a few weeks later when smoke returned “public officials, journalists, and other significant figures” quickly declared that we must get used to this “new normal.” While, factually that might be the case, “there is a danger to this type of premature normalization. If such language goes too far—to a “new normal” from which there is no return—then the energy, excitement, and money that could be focused on climate action might dry up or be diverted to adaptation alone.” This rhetoric, as one scientist describes it, creates “an ever-moving baseline of worse and worse.” Jessica McKenzie writes about climate change here, but the rhetorical dangers she warns of are applicable to many issues and discourses.


The Atlantic: The Last Place on Earth Any Tourist Should Go

There are certain places I have always wanted to visit, but haven’t yet, because I’ve never had the opportunity or because something about traveling there just doesn’t feel right. For a long time I wanted to visit Hawai’i. Then, I read about how tourism in Hawai’i is harmful. Antarctica is also a place that has long been on my bucket list, but I have never gone. At first, this was mostly because visiting is prohibitively expensive, and now I don’t want to go because of the myriad of reasons Sara Clemence lays out here.

Many people want to travel to the southernmost continent because it is the last untouched place on earth—“it is singular, and in its relative wildness and silence, it is the last of its kind.” Due to its isolation, “traveling to Antarctica is a carbon-intensive activity. Flights and cruises must cross thousands of miles in extreme conditions, contributing to the climate change that is causing ice loss and threatening whales, seals, and penguins. By one estimate, the carbon footprint for a person’s Antarctic cruise can be roughly equivalent to the average European’s output for a year.” A lot of people who want to go are concerned about climate change, and “bring a whiff of ‘last-chance tourism’—a desire to see a place before it’s gone, even if that means helping hasten its disappearance.” It’s essential to understand that we will all have to give up things to combat climate change. A trip to Antarctica seems is a small price to pay for the overall health of our planet.


CNN: Giant kites could pull cargo ships across the ocean – and slash their carbon emissions

A French company has created kites to help “propel a colossal cargo ship across the ocean.” Although sail- and wind- powered boats have been around for millenia, “the kite is a parafoil, much like a kitesurfer’s, and is launched via a foldable mast, which is also used to retrieve the kite and stow it away when it’s not needed.” Reading this article, I see how technically, the way the kite functions is different from a sail. However, the article, and presumably the company, are going way too far out of their way in pretending like they are reinventing the wheel (or in this case a sailboat). Maybe we should use wind powered boats to reduce emissions, but let’s not pretend like that has never happened before.


Afar: Waterworld

Martin Riese is America’s first water sommelier. Growing up in Aventoft, Germany, Riese was always surrounded by water and had an affinity for it at a young age. His professional journey with the natural resources began in 2005  when he “was the deputy maître d’ at the Michelin-starred First Floor restaurant in the Palace Hotel Berlin…an unhappy guest, who approached Riese to complain. You have more than 1,000 wines on the menu, yet you’re just serving one type of water, Riese remembers him saying. And I don’t like the taste.”

From there, Riese began curating water menus, and his reputation grew. Reise and other water sommeliers often get criticized as their profession is seen as a luxury, but “if we pay more attention to where water comes from and care about its source, then we will think differently about it when we go home and turn on the tap, he reasons. And if we think differently, then maybe we will act differently: We’ll plug up the sink instead of letting the water run, and we’ll shut off the water when we’re brushing our teeth. We will finally treat water with more reverence.”

Even if this is true, even if we only buy from ethical brands (whatever that means) I do not see a way around the bottle water industry’s foundation of commodifying a natural resource that is fundamental for life. Many of these brands, at least in the US, pay barely any money for the water they package—which also contributes to pollution.  While I understand the importance of appreciating water in all of its different forms and  flavors with various properties, I worry that water sommeliers and water tastings are another way to commodify and gate-keep a precious resource that so many people can’t access.


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