Respect the ratio
Facebook, letterboards, "cloches of fame," a crisis of loneliness, Buy Nothing, stop shopping and the haunted housing market
Hi friends. Today is October 29, 2021.
Thanks to Francis Haugen’s media marionetting, I’m so swathed in the smog of Facebook news I don’t care to write more on the subject. Facebook prioritized angry emoji! Facebook fanned violence in the Middle East and Africa! Facebook is changing its name to the disappointingly literal … Meta! Listen: The only metaverse you really need on a spooky mid-fall Friday is this MFA student’s choose-your-own-adventure:
But okay, fine, keep reading for the best of the “Facebook Papers.”
If you read anything this weekend
“History Will Not Judge Us Kindly,” by Adrienne LaFrance in The Atlantic. This is the TL;DR of the whole mess, I think — ironically, because it’s also quite long! But it gets at many of Facebook’s core inner tensions and failures, as framed by the Jan. 6 insurrection. For the view from outside the U.S., I liked this dispatch from India in the Washington Post and this analysis in Slate. And for insights into your everyday Facebooking, if that’s still a thing you do, see: how users are radicalized, how “SUMAs” ruin your newsfeed, and how Facebook lost the youth.
“The Sexfluencers,” by Rebecca Jennings in Vox. The line between sex work and influencing grows blurrier by the day, a phenomenon traced here to a few sources: the economy, the rise of OnlyFans, a “crisis of loneliness.” This line toward the end is the one that really got me, though: “If the American dream is getting paid for doing what you love, and what you love is to present an idealized version of yourself on the internet … the difference between ‘influencing’ and sex work is, arguably, only a matter of spectrum.”
“Corporate Transition,” by Stephanie Clifford in Elle. A pretty enraging profile of former self-described “tech bro” Natalie Egan, who was rolling in investors until she began presenting as a woman.
“Letterboards: Why?” by Kathryn Jezer-Morton in Mothers Under the Influence. One of those essays that gives you sudden, wild flashes of insight into dumb phenomena you might otherwise scroll past. Like: Are people just gaming the IG algorithm when they wear wide-brimmed hats…?
“Twitter’s Funniest, Weirdest Ex–Rock Star Explains Himself,” by Luke Winkie in Slate. The story of a fading rock star (“star”?) reinventing himself as a shitposter is truly the comeback tale of our age, and I hope someone makes a movie of it.
A Saturday Letter — If you love Links, then you'll love this newsletter that offers everything you wanted to know about the debt ceil-- Nah! I'm asking writers "How do You Finish a Book?" Also essays. And humor. I promise. Check out this wholly necessary take on Bad Art Friend.
Project Assemble — Project Assemble is a guerilla theater piece/immersive audiowalk running in a secret location in Brooklyn. It stands at the intersection of art and technology (and late capitalist anxiety) and asks you turn left on Smith Street.
The Sample — An effortless way to discover new things. Tell us what subjects you’re interested in, and we’ll forward you a fascinating, brand-new newsletter once a day or week.
📣📣 You too can get your product, newsletter or cause in front of 12,000+ subscribers, ALL while supporting the free edition of this newsletter. Fill out this form to book; ads are $35.
Buy Nothing. Stop shopping. Respect the ratio. “She cannot imagine life outside TikTok’s cloche of fame” is a perfect sentence if I’ve ever read one. Inside the haunted housing market and the post-Tinder dating scene. How memes helped us through the pandemic. 2021 was a good year for no one but … elderly online Jewish men.
All 200ish Taylor Swift songs, ranked. The best scary movies on Netflix. “If I’m sitting here thinking about my own virality too much, then I’m going to wind up stewing in an ocean of self-contempt.” Elon Musk and his fanboys continue to suck. Age checks come for the internet. Last but not least: a fun compilation of bizarre-but-real historical events.
That’s it for this week! Until the next one. Warmest virtual regards.