My favorite reads from the plague year

In this week's edition: laptops, layer cakes, mommy bloggers, the 'TikTok everyhouse,' Snapewives, B-sides and wolf-kink erotica

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Welp, friends: This is it. We did it. Today marks the last day of a long and (I hope) soon-forgotten year. It’s hard for me to guess how I’ll remember this time, an uneasy and unfixed era punctuated mostly with binge-drinking, sleepless nights and strained FaceTime calls. But also: a puppy! Tiger King! Cottagecore! This very newsletter!!!

I want to thank all of you — whoever and wherever you are — for reading and supporting this project as it finds its voice and footing. Writing it each week has been a blast and a balm and I’m excited to take it all further in 2021. (More plans on that forthcoming soon.)

Until then, please enjoy this round-up of my 25 favorite internet culture reads from 2020. They’re not necessarily the longest or ~most prestigious~ or most beautifully crafted stories to appear in this newsletter … but they’re the ones that stuck with me all these endless months later.

Wishing you all a blessedly offline new year’s eve and lots of health, happiness and good memes in the year to come. Let’s do it again in 2021!

On TikTok

  1. Notes on a TikTok quarantine // Charlotte Shane in Bookforum

  2. TikTok and the evolution of digital blackface // Jason Parham in Wired

  3. The appeal of the TikTok everyhouse // Emma Alpern in Curbed

On Instagram

  1. My mommies and me // Alexandra Tanner in Jewish Currents

  2. My Instagram // Dana Tortorici in n+1

  3. The gas industry is paying Instagram influencers to gush over gas stoves // Rebecca Leber in Mother Jones

Involving some sort of internet drama

  1. A feud in wolf-kink erotica raises a deep legal question // Alexandra Alter in NYT

  2. Slate Star Codex and Silicon Valley’s war against the media // Gideon Lewis-Kraus in the New Yorker

  3. Alison Roman, Bon Appetit and the ‘global pantry’ problem // Navneet Alang in Eater

  4. Why did YouTubers Myka and James Stauffer give up Huxley? // Caitlin Moscatello in The Cut

Other flavors of crazy

  1. The prophecies of Q // Adrienne LaFrance in The Atlantic

  2. Why are right-wing conspiracies so obsessed with pedophilia? // Ali Breland in Mother Jones

  3. Consider the Snapewife // Ashley Reese in Jezebel

How we internet now

  1. A psychoanalytic reading of social media and the death drive // Max Read in Bookforum

  2. On r/unemployment, a community of desperate people has stepped in where the government failed // Bridget Read in The Cut

  3. What was fun? // Rachel Sugar in Vox

  4. The gig economy is failing. Say hello to the hustle economy // Me in OneZero

Uncanny valleys

  1. Layer cake: the politics behind the internet’s sweetest meme // Raven Smith in Vogue

  2. Do these fake people look real to you? // Kashmir Hill and Jeremy White in NYT

You can dance if you want to

  1. Why is the obscure B-side “Harness Your Hopes” Pavement’s top song on Spotify? // Nate Rogers in Stereogum

  2. Enya is everywhere // Jenn Pelly in Pitchfork

  3. TikTok has been saved. But for music, is that a good thing? // Mikael Wood in LAT

Things I liked but am not clever enough to categorize

  1. ‘Emily in Paris’ and the rise of ambient TV // Kyle Chayka in The New Yorker

  2. The more we Google the less we know // Megan Marz in Real Life

  3. Laptops killed work-life balance // Amanda Mull in The Atlantic

And now for something completely different

More of this in the new year, plz.

— Caitlin