I didn’t read any! The day was hella busy and I was like, social at night. So now I have gone from 351 articles in Pocket back up to 399. This project is frankly insane and also Pocket should make it easier to see how many articles you have saved.
New and Interesting this Week
Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain – Kevin Roose
New York Times – February 23, 2019
In lieu of archival content to review I am gonna go a bit longer on this. I tend to ignore this genre of article, because it seems pretty paint by numbers at this point. But my friend Adam sent me the link, and since we’re both trying to be a bit more intentional about how we consume digital media I gave it a read. I’m glad I did, and in honor of him, I am gonna talk about how it made me feel for a second and hold the critique for later.
About halfway through the article, Roose worries to his wife about what he’s been missing online. Her response, “I’m sad that you’re having trouble with this, because it’s been great for me.” is probably the most interesting thing in the article. I have been an extreme screen boy for more than half of my life at this point; At 16 I ruined a family vacation by insisting we stay somewhere with internet access. I needed to check my girlfriend’s LiveJournal to see if she was breaking up with me. In retrospect I think camping in Monument Valley would have been the better experience.
So I’ve been “phubbing” (cubbing? dubbing?) people, which wow I did not expect to see that word in an article in 2019 for close to 20 years. And it’s not until now, as I am starting to come out of it, that I realize how much it sucks. When we first moved in together, my then-girlfriend complained, often, about how much time I spent “staring at my phone.” I thought she was being unreasonable. But now I’m coming out of it, and the last thing I as I fall asleep is her face, blued by the night’s last scan of Instagram. I can’t in good conscience begrudge this; few things are more obnoxious than the proselytizations of a reformed addict. But that doesn’t mean things don’t look different from over here
Anyway, sorry Adam but the piece itself has problems. Either Roose or his editor must have been uncomfortable taking the premise too seriously. Lines about feeling like a human again post phone detox are interspersed with mockingly captioned photos like this:
It’s a reasonable defensiveness. Sincerity is terrifying, and we still tear people down for it after all these years of arguing about snark and smarm. But if you’re gonna live by a self-help guru’s edicts for one of these NYTimes almost advertorials, you have to buy all the way in. Acting like you’re in on the joke just highlights how transactional the whole thing is.
Also New, Interesting
- Time’s Up – Always read Charlotte Shane: “Because people like Feinstein have spent decades declining to take climate change seriously, we no longer have time to point out that sexism exists and stop there. Sexism is bad, always, of course—but if you came to me with news that someone used a gendered insult against Betsy DeVos, I’m going to respond like a dad who’s tackling a major home plumbing problem completely beyond his skills: “I’m kind of busy right now, pal!”
- Bull Speed Ahead – I recently learned about The Brenner Hypothesis. As far as my dumb economic brain can tell the idea is that all increase in GDP/profits since the early 1970s has been one of two things. First, the upwards redistribution of wealth from labor to the owners, which, yeah checks out. Second, an elaborate shell game of debt, credit, and equity that has produced absolutely no tangible value. Reading Jacob Bacharach on the narrowing of corporate strategy to focus on increasing share price above all else sure makes the second point sound true.
- College Basketball, Like Other Crime, Does Not Pay – Deadspin already had this take on Monday, but I like Tom Scocca and Hmm Daily and it’s always good to remember how morally bankrupt college sports are.
- Facebook says it fired leaker for participating in conservative bias ‘stunt’ – That Project Veritas is allowed to exist disproves every claim that free speech is being censored or suppressed. At least on the right.
- How Not to Act at Sweetgreen, From a Sweetgreen Employee – HamNo for sure thought this would be worse when they put out the call.
- 12-Year-Old Arrested and Charged With Scrawling Anti-Semitic Graffiti in NYC Playground – Ugh
- Here’s Definitely Not Racist Mark Meadows Being Wildly Racist About Obama – Fuck this dude.
- The Wholesome Teen-Age Dirtbags of “Derry Girls” – This show sounds good and I am gonna try to watch it before I go to Ireland next month.