One of our faithful members (Hi Marc!) requested a mixtape for this issue and, way back in November when he said it, I thought it sounded like a smashing idea. I love doing these little link mashups and have missed them during our hiatus.
Turns out, trying to mold different pieces of the internet into a cohesive narrative about community is daunting because, well, the whole damn internet is a community. It’s the community of the modern age, and the ways we’ve found to interact online multiply almost daily. Arguing with your grandma on Facebook, endorsing strangers’ opinions on Twitter with retweets, engaging in hot-take battles on Medium, asking celebrities awkward questions on Reddit AMAs, double-tapping your way through Instagram—hell, even those that shun most corners of the internet use email. The borg has come to fruition, and complete absorption is a mere eye implant away.
What’s especially interesting to me is that, despite its borg-like nature, the internet looks just a little different for each one of us. Some people spend all day on Reddit or Twitter or YouPorn, while others divide their days between Slack and Outlook. Millennials and younger seem to do most of their onlining on their phones; I can’t do anything worthwhile unless I’m on my laptop. You know how when you drive someone else’s car, you spend the first few minutes trying to orient yourself to an unfamiliar environment? That’s the exact same feeling you have when you sit down at someone else’s computer or look at their phone. “Wait, where is everything?”
So these mixtapes, I guess, are a little peek into the internet from my driver’s seat. I read a lot of news. I’m always on Facebook, never on Twitter, and am a recent convert to GoodReads. I love lists—Best Of, Worst Of, and everything in between. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters. And, as you may not be surprised to hear, I’m pretty partial to anything with a feminist bent.
Remember way back in the early days of the internet, when personalized start pages were all the rage? Yahoo had a really good one for a while. They had all these widgets you could choose from that put little pieces of the internet on one page. It was, to keep up with the car metaphor, your dashboard. Thanks to the magical Wayback Machine, I found an example of one.
I would like someone to revive the personalized start page please. That was a nifty thing.
ANYway, back to what I was supposed to be writing about from the beginning—your community mixtape. Or at least the community from where I sit. Here’s what a typical day spent in the wilds of the internet looks like when you’re Carla.
Reading the main news stories is easy enough these days, so I like to follow curators who find some of the more off-the-beaten-path stuff. Jason Kottke, The Morning News, It’s Nice That, and Digg are all daily stops. I’m also a big Google News-er, as I like they way they group multiple sources around one issue. Numerous scans through Facebook during the day inevitably result in several more tidbits found. And then, I read. Or I bookmark to read later when I have more time.
I read about King Shitstain a couple of times a week, much less than I used to. At a certain point, my brain lost the ability to process his bullshit without folding in on itself. So these days, I limit myself to articles that look at broader trends around him, like this excellent piece on the authoritarian war on women, which examines how deeply political legitimacy and the male ego are intertwined.
“It’s vital to remember that for most of human history, leaders and their male subjects forged a social contract: ‘Men agreed to be ruled by other men in return for all men ruling over women.’ This political hierarchy appeared natural—as natural as adults ruling children—because it mirrored the hierarchy of the home. Thus, for millennia, men, and many women, have associated male dominance with political legitimacy.”
I love articles that give historical perspective like that. When you have the patience, also check out this fantastic explainer on how the current economic disparity started after World War II. (I promise, it really is interesting.)
About every other week, I read something about the opioid epidemic, which is a scourge killing people at such astonishing rates that I don’t understand why it isn’t front-page news more regularly. This recent piece in Intelligencer had a spin I hadn’t heard before: one of the reasons opioids are so rampant these days is because so many are trying to escape the hell that life in America has become.
And then, just to round out the misery train, I read something detailing the ordeal that it is to be a woman, nod my head solemnly, and walk away from the computer for a while.
Don’t worry! Just as I do with myself, I won’t end on a sour note. After I’ve bathed in human suffering for a bit, I jump into the fun side of the pool, the one with McMansion Hell and random facts about cities I don’t live in, and just random facts in general.
I go to NPR’s music picks and listen to something new. I read reviews of board games. I see what the fabulous R. Eric Thomas has written lately or I check in on Deadspin to see if Drew Magary has started writing again or read old Funbags until he does (and ohmygod what actually happened to him??).
So what’s your internet community like? How’s the view on your end? Tell me in the comments!