News 02.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 02.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 02.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 02.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It’s a psychological truism that personal identity is fluid and that its continuity — whatever it is that links the you of today to older versions of yourself — is asserted against a backdrop of flux. Social platforms, however, have distorted and jumbled up the sense of which parts change and which don’t. The many means of expression they provide and the archives they maintain suggest that everything about who we are (and were) may be reimagined and exhibited in an endless array of new formats.

These formats may be app-specific, as are the strategies for maximizing visibility on them: Studies suggest that tweets that blend “general Twitter language” with “personal style” are more likely to go viral, while theories about the best days and times to post on Instagram abound. Beyond the specific strategies tailored to particular apps are more general approaches to standing out, including different approaches to writing, oscillating between sincerity and irony, or between grammatical precision and laxity. If these hairpin turns perplex some audiences, all the better: Hence the emergence of the post-brand account, which is meant to keep some audiences guessing.

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

News 02.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 02.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Ashley Marrero isn’t married and doesn’t have kids. And she has a message for women just like her: You can still have it all.

The 43-year-old feels a deep sense of satisfaction from her job as a sales representative for a maker of medical devices, which brings her into contact with patients. And she relishes all of the lifestyle and financial freedoms that come with being a single, child-free woman in a well-paying job. That includes an apartment in New York City, a new beach house on the Jersey Shore, and frequent travel for pleasure as well as work.

“I love my life and feel very fulfilled,” says Marrero, who froze her eggs in 2018 to keep her options open. “I love children, and I love all my friends’ children. But I don’t know if I would love my life with children.”

Marrero belongs to a growing cohort of women who are putting off motherhood or forgoing it entirely. As a result, many are advancing further in their careers than prior generations and entering a new frontier of wealth. Single women without kids had an average of $65,000 in wealth in 2019, compared with $57,000 for single, child-free men, according to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. For single mothers, the figure was only $7,000.

Parenthood was losing its appeal even before Covid-19, and the hardship brought on by the pandemic appears to have accelerated the trend. A Pew Research Center study last year found that 44% of Americans age 18-49 who don’t have kids say it’s not too likely or not at all likely they will procreate someday—an increase of 7 percentage points from 2018.

US birthrates have been falling for the past 30 years as people get married later in life and put off having children. In 1990 there were about 71 births per year for every 1,000 women age 15 to 44. By 2019 that had dropped closer to 58 births, according to a Census Bureau analysis. At the same time, the share of women age 25 to 34 who don’t have kids reached a record in 2018, the most recent available in data going back to 1976.

Many experts point to the rising cost of raising a family as an important factor in Americans’ decisions to have fewer or no offspring. The expenses in bringing up a child born in 2015 through age 17 will run an estimated $310,605, according to the Brookings Institution, which adapted a government calculation to adjust for inflation trends, adding about $26,000. The projection doesn’t include the cost of a college education.

There are other costs to consider. Several studies have demonstrated that working women are subject to a “motherhood penalty” either during pregnancy or after they give birth. In research prior to the pandemic, Julie Kashen, director for women’s economic justice at the Century Foundation, a think tank, pegged the size of the penalty at 15% of annual income for each child under the age of 5, with Black and Latina mothers shouldering a higher burden than their White peers. “There’s the consequence for your earnings of having kids,” says Kashen. “The whole purpose of the women’s movement is to maximize choices for women so that every choice is a viable one. Income should not be a thing that dictates that, which it totally is right now.”

Melissa Kearney, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland, contends that cultural changes are also causing women to delay or skip motherhood. Americans who were young adults in the 1990s and early 2000s grew up with a different set of norms around parenting and women having careers. “It seems like people’s priorities have shifted,” says Kearney, who’s also the director of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group and a mother of three. “It’s not necessarily that people have less of a preference for kids, or that it’s that much more expensive or time-consuming to have kids. It’s the way those two things are interacting for this generation vs. prior ones.”

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

At Althorp, the Northamptonshire estate where she lived as a young woman, there is a drawing of Diana Spencer, round-faced and smiling. It was made when she was a child, and unhappy: her mother, Frances, had left the family. It is a private family artefact, and something else too: an early study in iconography, in making Diana something she was not. Her marriage to Prince Charles made Diana a paradigm. A queen exists to be a paradigm – that is her job – but an unhappy, divorced almost-queen, who died while being chased by the mass media that both deified and abused her, is another category of paradigm entirely. The drawing reminds me that she was once a private individual, but she became something else.

In the 25 years since her death, and the insatiable public mourning that followed, and the royal family’s dash to London to preserve their power, Diana the woman has been obscured by interpretations of Diana “the People’s Princess”. There are films, television shows, memoirs, awards, documentaries, conspiracy theories. There are commemorative plates, coins, dolls, tubs of margarine. There are physical memorials – monuments, statues, and a fountain – where the besotted still pay their respects. Even so, the Diana trail has become strewn with tumbleweed. She is now a collection of emotions and memories and scattered artefacts: a myth. What, if anything, is left of her?

Read the rest of this article at: The New Statesman

News 02.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 02.09.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Pick a memory. It could be as recent as breakfast or as distant as your first day of kindergarten. What matters is that you can really visualize it. Hold the image in your mind.

Now consider: Do you see the scene through your own eyes, as you did at the time? Or do you see yourself in it, as if you’re watching a character in a movie? Do you see it, in other words, from a first-person or a third-person perspective? Usually, we associate this kind of distinction with storytelling and fiction-writing. But like a story, every visual memory has its own implicit vantage point. All seeing is seeing from somewhere. And sometimes, in memories, that somewhere is not where you actually were at the time.

This fact is strange, even unsettling. It cuts against our most basic understanding of memory as a simple record of experience. For a long time, psychologists and neuroscientists did not pay this fact much attention. That has changed in recent years, and as the amount of research on the role of perspective has multiplied, so too have its potential implications. Memory perspective, it turns out, is tied up in criminal justice, implicit bias, and post-traumatic stress disorder. At the deepest level, it helps us make sense of who we are.

The distinction between first- and third-person memories dates back at least as far as Sigmund Freud, who first commented on it near the end of the 19th century. Not for another 80 years, though, did the first empirical studies begin fleshing out the specifics of memory perspective. And it was only in the 2000s that the field really started picking up steam. What those early studies found was that third-person memories were far less unusual than once thought. The phenomenon is associated with a number of mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, but it is not merely a symptom of pathology; even among healthy people, it is quite common.

Just how common is tricky to quantify. Peggy St. Jacques, a psychology professor at the University of Alberta who studies perspective in memory, told me that roughly 90 percent of people report having at least one third-person memory. For the average person, St. Jacques estimates, on the basis of her research, that about a quarter of memories from the past five years are third-person. (At least a couple of papers have found that women tend to have more third-person memories than men do, but a third study turned up no statistically significant difference; on the whole, research on possible demographic disparities is scant.) In certain rare cases, people may have only third-person memories. As you try to recall your own, be warned that things can get confusing fast. Perhaps you can call to mind early-childhood scenes that you picture from a third-person perspective. But it’s hard to know whether these are genuine memories translated from the first person to the third person, or third-person scenes constructed from stories or photographs. To some people, third-person memories are second nature; to others, they sound like science fiction.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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To his more than 150,000 followers on Instagram, Dr. Martin Jugenburg is Real Dr. 6ix, a well-coiffed Toronto plastic surgeon posting images and video of his work sculpting the decolletage, tucking the tummies and lifting the faces of his primarily female clientele.

Jugenburg’s physician-influencer tendencies led to a six-month suspension of his Ontario medical license in 2021 after he admitted to filming patient interactions and sharing images of procedures without consent. He apologized for the lapse and is currently facing a class-action lawsuit from female patients who say their privacy was violated.

But on Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer, and in roughly a dozen sponsored posts scattered across the web, Jugenburg’s career and controversial history was eclipsed by a new identity. On those platforms, he was DJ Dr. 6ix, a house music producer who’s celebrated for his “inherent instinctual ability for music composition” and who “assures his followers that his music is absolutely unique.”

It’s an unconvincing persona — perhaps even less so once his “music” is played. But it was enough to secure what he wanted: a verification badge for his Instagram account.

The coveted blue tick can be difficult to obtain and is supposed to assure that anyone who bears one is who they claim to be. A ProPublica investigation determined that Jugenburg’s dubious alter ego was created as part of what appears to be the largest Instagram account verification scheme ever uncovered. With a generous greasing of cash, the operation transformed hundreds of clients into musical artists in an attempt to trick Meta, the owner of Instagram and Facebook, into verifying their accounts and hopefully paving the way to lucrative endorsements and a coveted social status.

Since at least 2021, at least hundreds of people — including jewelers, crypto entrepreneurs, OnlyFans models and reality show TV stars — were clients of a scheme to get improperly verified as musicians on Instagram, according to the investigation’s findings and information from Meta.

In response to information provided by ProPublica and the findings of its own investigation, Meta has so far removed fraudulently applied verification badges from more than 300 Instagram profiles, and continues to review accounts. That includes the accounts of Mike Vazquez and Lexie Salameh, two stars of the MTV reality show “Siesta Key.” Rather than get verified for their TV work, they were falsely branded online as musicians in order to receive verification. They lost their badges approximately two weeks ago and did not respond to requests for comment.

Jugenburg did not respond to a phone message left at his Toronto practice or to emails detailing evidence that he had paid for his Instagram verification. He has told media outlets he intends to vigorously defend himself against the class-action suit.

The scheme, which likely generated millions in revenue for its operators, illustrates how easily major social, search and music platforms can be exploited to create fake personas with real-world consequences, such as monetizing a verified account. It also underscores how Instagram’s growth and cachet combines with poor customer support and lax oversight to create a thriving black market in verification services and account takedowns for hire.

Influencers, socialites, models, businesspeople and all manner of clout chasers rely on Instagram to flaunt their lifestyle, generate income and establish a personal brand. Some influencers and models told ProPublica they face a barrage of impostor accounts trying to run scams to trick their fans. They also run the constant risk of malicious actors fabricating evidence and filing user reports to convince Instagram to ban their accounts. They see a badge as one of few options available that can help them protect their accounts and business. Others covet the blue tick as a status symbol. The result is a steady supply of well-heeled customers willing to pay five figures to get verified. (Meta is reportedly working on enhancing its customer support.)

The verification scheme identified by ProPublica exploited music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, as well as Google search, to create fake musician profiles. The songs uploaded to client profiles were often nothing more than basic looping beats or, in at least one case, extended periods of dead air. They credited composers with nonsense names such as “rhusgls stadlhvs” and “kukyush fhehjer.” The Meta employees tasked with reviewing the musician verification applications apparently failed to listen to the tracks or look too closely.

Read the rest of this article at: ProPublica

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