News 01.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 01.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 01.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Late last year, Valerie Peter, a twenty-three-year-old student in Manchester, England, realized that she had an online-shopping problem. It was more about what she was buying than how much. A fashion trend of fuzzy leg warmers had infiltrated Peter’s social-media feeds—her TikTok For You tab, her Instagram Explore page, her Pinterest recommendations. She’d always considered leg warmers “ugly, hideous, ridiculous,” she told me recently, and yet soon enough she “somehow magically ended up with a pair of them,” which she bought online at the push of a button, on an almost subconscious whim. (She wore them only a few times. “They’re in the back of my closet,” she said.) The same thing later happened with Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, after a cast member on the U.K. reality show “Love Island” wore a necklace from the brand onscreen. Van Cleef’s Art Nouveau-ish flower bracelets made their way onto Peter’s TikTok feed, and she found herself browsing the brand’s products. The bombardment made her question: “Is this me? Is this my style?” she said.

In her confusion, Peter wrote an e-mail seeking advice from Rachel Tashjian, a fashion critic who writes a popular newsletter called “Opulent Tips.” “I’ve been on the internet for the last 10 years and I don’t know if I like what I like or what an algorithm wants me to like,” Peter wrote. She’d come to see social networks’ algorithmic recommendations as a kind of psychic intrusion, surreptitiously reshaping what she’s shown online and, thus, her understanding of her own inclinations and tastes. “I want things I truly like not what is being lowkey marketed to me,” her letter continued.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 01.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

New York in the summer is a noisy place, especially if you don’t have money. The rich run off to the Hamptons or Maine. The bourgeoisie are safely shielded by the hum of their central air, their petite cousins by the roar of their window units. But for the broke—the have-littles and have-nots—summer means an open window, through which the clatter of the city becomes the soundtrack to life: motorcycles revving, buses braking, couples squabbling, children summoning one another out to play, and music. Ceaseless music.

I remember, the summer before I left for college, lying close to my bedroom box fan, taking it all in. Thanks to a partial scholarship (and a ton of loans), I was on my way to an Ivy League college. I was counting down the days, eager to ditch the concrete sidewalks and my family’s cramped railroad apartment and to start living life on my own terms, against a backdrop of lush, manicured lawns and stately architecture.

I didn’t yet know that you don’t live on an Ivy League campus. You reside on one. Living is loud and messy, but residing? Residing is quiet business.

I first arrived on campus for the minority-student orientation. The welcome event had the feel of a block party, Blahzay Blahzay blasting on a boom box. (It was the ’90s.) We spent those first few nights convening in one another’s rooms, gossiping and dancing until late. We were learning to find some comfort in this new place, and with one another.

Then the other students arrived—the white students. The first day of classes was marked by such gloriously WASPy pomp that it made my young, aspirational heart leap. Professors in academic regalia gave speeches about centuries-old traditions and how wonderful and unique we were—“the best class yet.” Kids sang a cappella and paraded with a marching band. I’d spent my high-school years sneaking out at night to drink 40s on the beach and scheming my way into clubs. I understood that what was happening around me wasn’t exactly cool, but it was special. And I was a part of it.

I just hadn’t counted on everything that followed being so quiet. The hush crept up on me at first. I would be hanging out with my friends from orientation when one of our new roommates would start ostentatiously readying themselves for bed at a surprisingly early hour. Hints would be taken, eyes would be rolled, and we’d call it a night. One day, when I accidentally sat down to study in the library’s Absolutely Quiet Room, fellow students Shhh-ed me into shame for putting on my Discman. With rare exceptions—like Saturday nights during rush—silence blanketed the campus.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

In late June, I sat in on a conversation featuring three models, all over the age of 50, about aging and beauty. “We need representation of spring, summer, fall, and winter,” one of the panelists, Swedish model Paulina Porizkova, declared. Model Yasmin Warsame spoke about how aging is treated as a sign of wisdom in her birth country of Somalia. The discussion’s moderator, Allure editor-in-chief Jessica Cruel, brought up the magazine’s much-publicized decision five years ago to axe the term “anti-aging” from its pages. “How are you going to be anti-living?” she asked.

The takeaway of the panel, hosted by the Aspen Institute, was supposed to be that women should demand to be seen, regardless of how old they are, and that society needs to accept all versions of beauty, no matter someone’s birth date. But some mild discomfort with the premise was evident. Christie Brinkley mentioned a specific wrinkle that bothers her multiple times and the steps she’s taken to minimize it. All of the panelists acknowledged at least the temptation to get some work done, and the conundrum that you’re “shamed if you do, shamed if you don’t,” as Porizkova put it. I left thinking it’s probably time to start looking into fillers.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

News 01.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 01.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Within the past 15 years, social media has insinuated itself into American life more deeply than food-delivery apps into our diets and microplastics into our bloodstreams. Look at stories about conflict, and it’s often lurking in the background. Recent articles on the rising dysfunction within progressive organizations point to the role of Twitter, Slack, and other platforms in prompting “endless and sprawling internal microbattles,” as The Intercept’s Ryan Grim put it, referring to the ACLU. At a far higher level of conflict, the congressional hearings about the January 6 insurrection show us how Donald Trump’s tweets summoned the mob to Washington and aimed it at the vice president. Far-right groups then used a variety of platforms to coordinate and carry out the attack.

Social media has changed life in America in a thousand ways, and nearly two out of three Americans now believe that these changes are for the worse. But academic researchers have not yet reached a consensus that social media is harmful. That’s been a boon to social-media companies such as Meta, which argues, as did tobacco companies, that the science is not “settled.”

The lack of consensus leaves open the possibility that social media may not be very harmful. Perhaps we’ve fallen prey to yet another moral panic about a new technology and, as with television, we’ll worry about it less after a few decades of conflicting studies. A different possibility is that social media is quite harmful but is changing too quickly for social scientists to capture its effects. The research community is built on a quasi-moral norm of skepticism: We begin by assuming the null hypothesis (in this case, that social media is not harmful), and we require researchers to show strong, statistically significant evidence in order to publish their findings. This takes time—a couple of years, typically, to conduct and publish a study; five or more years before review papers and meta-analyses come out; sometimes decades before scholars reach agreement. Social-media platforms, meanwhile, can change dramatically in just a few years.

So even if social media really did begin to undermine democracy (and institutional trust and teen mental health) in the early 2010s, we should not expect social science to “settle” the matter until the 2030s. By then, the effects of social media will be radically different, and the harms done in earlier decades may be irreversible.

Let me back up. This spring, The Atlantic published my essay “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid,” in which I argued that the best way to understand the chaos and fragmentation of American society is to see ourselves as citizens of Babel in the days after God rendered them unable to understand one another.

I showed how a few small changes to the architecture of social-media platforms, implemented from 2009 to 2012, increased the virality of posts on those platforms, which then changed the nature of social relationships. People could spread rumors and half-truths more quickly, and they could more readily sort themselves into homogenous tribes. Even more important, in my view, was that social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook could now be used more easily by anyone to attack anyone. It was as if the platforms had passed out a billion little dart guns, and although most users didn’t want to shoot anyone, three kinds of people began darting others with abandon: the far right, the far left, and trolls.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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News 01.08.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Looking back on it now, I have to be careful about reconstructing or selecting memories in the light of all that transpired. In 1970, as part of my work for a research group within the Canadian Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, I moved to the Arctic and began learning the Inuit language, Inuktitut. My girlfriend, Christine, and I ended up living in a settlement named Sanikiluaq, located on the Belcher Islands, some 90 miles from the Hudson Bay coast of Arctic Quebec.

The Canadian government had established this settlement in the 1960s, the result of a postwar policy to incorporate all of the country, even its remotest edges, into the Canadian nation. Such policies came with a new conviction that the far north had vast economic potential. Although life in Sanikiluaq was now based on the new government settlement, this was an Inuit world, where language, culture and links to the land continued to be very strong.

During my career as an anthropologist, I have written much about my work with and for Inuit, but I have written very little about Sanikiluaq. The beauty of those islands and of the people for whom this was their home were clear to me then, and are so now as I bring them to mind. But there is a thread of darkness running through these memories, intimations embedded in the stories that the people of Sanikiluaq shared with me. There was also a shocking reality that I failed to see. These stories raise questions of life and death that have been central to Inuit experience, and are turning out to be of urgent importance for us all.

At the time I arrived, white people from the south, who the Inuit called the Qallunaat, had overwhelming influence and authority. Most were there either to transform the Inuit – and supposedly help them through the confusions of that transformation – or to take over possession and management of the land on behalf of the Canadian government in the south. The Inuit were expected to adopt a new religion, learn about the world of the south in schools run by southerners, and live more like other Canadians. When describing to me their feelings about these white people, Inuit in Sanikiluaq often also used the Inuktitut word ilira, to express awe (as in relation to ghosts) and intimidation (as in relation to powerful elders or shamans).

Christine and I lived as much as we could outside the norms and attitudes of most Qallunaat. This did not make for easy relations with the other southerners living there. The one other Qallunaaq who did like to visit us was a man named Ed Horne. Of the three schoolteachers in Sanikiluaq, Horne had responsibility for the younger children. He ignored the Qallunaat’s disdain for our small shack at the edge of the community. By spending time there, he had dissociated himself from the settlement manager and the other teachers (a married couple), with whom he had had a serious falling-out.

In defying the Qallunaat’s disapproval of us, Horne was suggesting that he was not really one of them – an implication reinforced by his saying to me, as I recall, that he was part indigenous. But however much he might have wished not to be identified as Qallunaat, he was very much seen to be one by the Inuit, and treated as such. And they were right: we would learn, years later, that Ed had been born into a white Canadian family in provincial British Columbia.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.