“When I was in graduate school, I had a teacher who said to me, women writers should marry somebody who thinks writing is cute. Because if they really realised what writing was, they would run a mile.”—Lorrie Moore (via jessicalouise)
“Jakob does get made fun of relentlessly but we’re all just learning out here in cyberspace about how to have real lives both on and off the computers. You weren’t meant to know what people say about you when you’re not around. Now it can easily be published in a ‘hate’ site devoted to you which remains forever and can be called up any time by anyone anywhere.”—Dawn (via marco) (via claudia)
I’ve been thinking a lot over the past week the impact of our words upon the people we write about, and accordingly is and isn’t prudent to publish.
We’ve all bashed out an online diss at one point or another — snark is a core part of the currency by which we build relationships with one another online, amuse ourselves and others with our own cleverness, and engage in genuine arguments over our likes, dislikes and beliefs.
There can be good in that. But you’re an idiot if you think you can bitch about someone online these days without them finding out about it. And you’re an emotional dunce if you don’t think your words are going to have some impact on the person you’re writing about.
I’m not a Pollyanna by any means. Back in my student politics, I remember telling a highly diplomatic friend that I was sick of him saying everyone was “lovely” all the time, because sometimes people were just assholes, and he shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge that. Similarly, sometimes websites or books or songs or magazine articles are crap, and pretty much everything and everyone has its strengths and weaknesses.
Should we hold back the truth simply because it might make someone a little sad?
Professionally, I’ve gone with “no”. It’s my job to write what I perceive to be true — sometimes diplomatically, other times not — and it’s also part of my job to accept that people will tear apart what I have to say in that capacity on the internet.
In my other online interactions (and I decided this before Jakob’s departure), I going to veer the other way, though — or at least sticking to attacking arguments rather than people, even if those people are anonymous internet users on the other side of the world who I’ll never meet.
Because, well, they’re still people, and I don’t want to be the cause of someone else’s pain.
“When a couple was “going steady” in the 1950s, the young man might have let his girlfriend wear his Varsity team sweater or given her his fraternity pin. But the 1960s swept aside those rituals. Now the Facebook link has become a publicly-recognized symbol of a reasonably serious intent short of being engaged or moving in together.”—
I’m always tickled that being “facebook official” is now an important stage in most college-aged relationships. Not so much about it being absurd - because it is a really exciting and special point in a relationship - but in how nobody could have predicted it as little as five years ago and how strange this must all seem to my parents.
I haven’t been in a serious relationship since I joined Facebook, but my instinct is to always leave my relationship status blank. Not because I don’t care, but because history shows that break-ups render me a mess, and the last thing I want in the midst of one is to make an announcement to my entire broader social circle that my heart’s been trampled on. I’d rather just crawl up in a hole, watch trash TV, bawl my eyes out to my friends, and ignore the world.
A bit hard to stick with that conviction in the flush of new love, though.
“Another possible problem, occasionally identified in the scribe’s idle imaginings, is that a couple of generations of journalists are emerging who’ve had no exposure to having to glean their basic information from yellowing files and stray flecks of fading memories. What would happen should someone snip Google’s crucial cable? Are there people doing journalism now who wouldn’t have a clue how to set about a story in the absence of electronic data assistance?”—
Guilty as charged. I have to admit, I find Google an invaluable tool for backgrounding stories, although my present academic training is pulling me away from this (a little). Don’t use Google at all (well, almost at all) for the thesis!
I’m looking forward to reading the Nicholas Carr piece (in my newly arrived edition of The Atlantic) the spurred this latest bout of Google bashing.
Also from the Errol Simper (linked): “Sullivan touched on some internet-Google drawbacks, as quoted earlier. One he didn’t mention is the potential danger of journalistic uniformity. It has often occurred to the scribe in recent times that when journalists from News Limited, Fairfax Media or from the Seven Network set out out to do a story about essentially the same thing, then they’ll probably all perform the same research. Unless you’re formidably familiar with the background to a particular topic it’s become second nature, an automatic reflex, to Google up stories relevant to what you’re examining.
"What you find will very probably influence the questions you ask and which individuals you seek out for comment. It’s as though the internet has crafted a little journalistic suburb within whose boundaries the stories will largely be confined. The only thing that’s going to make one story different from another is the varying thought processes of the human condition. A potential problem, as Sullivan suggests, is that those processes may now be similarly conditioned."
“The dominant narrative may have had some truth to it in the pre–Madonna/Paris Hilton era. But it ignores several key changes in contemporary teenaged life—changes that the Gloucester posse has graciously illustrated for us. First, many young women who become pregnant these days either want to have a baby (as in Gloucester) or are, at the very least, open to the idea. In order for birth control to work, you have to use it religiously, and the only way you use it religiously is if you really, really don’t want to get pregnant. Yet researchers like Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefelas in Promises I Can Keep find that’s not the case for many low-income mothers. They describe young women who speak longingly about the “joys of motherhood” and who find the middle-class penchant for putting off motherhood until the later twenties incomprehensible. As rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancy have increased recently among women with a high school diploma and even those with a year or two of college, the same thinking seems to have spread to working-class communities like Gloucester.”—
Interesting article. I was saying last weekend that one of my pet hates is when people call Jamie-Lynne Spears’s decision to continue with her pregnancy “trashy”. If you accept that some (lots of) teenagers will have sex, as most progressives do, then it follows that some of them will fall pregnant. Unless you enforce abortion, some of them are going to have babies.
As this article nicely shows, there’s a pretty strong correlation between cultural and economic class and what girls decide to do when they’re put in that situation (which both explains and dismerits the middle-class distate for teen pregnancy).
Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.
The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. There are other messages too, of course. You should be hipper. You should be better looking. But the clearest message is that you should be richer.
According to the post’s author, Paul Graham, Cambridge (MA) values intelligence, Los Angeles fame (and beauty), Washington DC proximity to power, Berkeley pleasant living and Silicon Valley innovation.
No matter how determined you are, it’s hard not to be influenced by the people around you. It’s not so much that you do whatever a city expects of you, but that you get discouraged when no one around you cares about the same things you do.
Because ambitions are to some extent incompatible and admiration is a zero-sum game, each city tends to focus on one type of ambition. The reason Cambridge is the intellectual capital is not just that there’s a concentration of smart people there, but that there’s nothing else people there care about more. Professors in New York and the Bay area are second class citizens—till they start hedge funds or startups respectively.
It got me thinking what values and ambitions Sydney heralded most, and I found myself stuck.
What qualities would lift someone to the heights of Sydney society? Money, beauty, fame, a laid back lifestyle? A tan?
Sydney might have a national reputation for fast-paced superficiality, but none of those strike me as quite right. Perhaps we have too much urban sprawl, and too many subcultures, for any particular quality to reign supreme.
I mean, I don’t care much for any of the above, and I can’t say I feel like I misfit living here.
Still, I couldn’t help feeling that if I wanted to live in a city that embodied my own values, I’d be better off moving to Melbourne.
“We live in a world of constant “updates” and those who plan and plan will never arrive. As much as I desire to be perfect, I have an even stronger desire to succeed. To connect with people and to show the world what I have to offer in a big, big way. Therefore, I’m letting go and meeting my fear head on.”—
Every few weeks, I invite a bunch of interesting people of my acquaintance and their friends to converge on a restaurant for lunch - you might call it offline social networking or, as I do (inspired by a Bust article back in ‘05), a “salon”.
My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my ‘blackness’ than ever before. I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong. Regardless of the circumstances underwhich I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second.
It’s stating the obvious, I know, but lady is smart.
I like to call myself straight-flexible. Kennedy’s kind of the same. She adores the above song and we are definitely going to a Katy Perry concert back in the States. Also, we should probably just consummate this friendship with hot girl-on-girl action (this is something I’ve been working on since freshman year — no luck yet).
Around 1997 or so, my favourite singer/songwriter was Jill Sobule, who had a song with the same title (although my favourite song of her’s was always Supermodel). My friends and I liked to giggle and coyly inform the boys in our life whenever it entered our heads, as teenage girls are wont to.
A decade on, Katy Perry’s take on the subject is catchy and tuneful (onto my iTunes it shall go), but dare I say it, a little… heteronormative? I mean, "You’re my experimental game", "It’s not what good girls do, Not how they should behave"?
It’s kissing, for god’s sake, not attempted murder. Not even Serena van der Woodsen would freak out about that one.
Today, more husbands count on their wives to bring home a significant share of the family wealth; nearly one in four women now earns more than her husband. With this, men have options to leave a negative work environment, change careers, take more career risks, and be more involved with their children.
“The findings of the ‘Lipstick Index” may initially seem incongruous, but beware: their explanations are compelling. Each time the credit crunch bites harder, the sales of such items as lipsticks and bottles of bubbly jump another notch, history apparently shows. And, true to form, while Australians’ overall spending wilts, sales of L’Oreal Paris lipsticks have increased by 54 per cent (from last April to this), according to AC Nielsen figures.”—
Apparently sales of lipstick, costume jewellery and champagne are up as people try to treat themselves to ‘small luxuries’ to razz up old outfits due to financial strife. But surely you don’t need to ask AC Neilsen about that; just talk to my friend whose rent was increased by $200 PER WEEK.
$200 per week??? Say it isn’t so! Rents have gone up around $100 per week in my suburb in the past year. I’m hoping my landlord will only push mine up $50 come the end of my lease in September. Although even that will be nasty.
Neck, back, shoulder, left arm - the whole caboodle.
In that time, I’ve…
- Read the latest issue of Cosmopolitan (the best, most content-filled one I’ve read in a while)… - and the latest issue of Australian Vogue, which featured the best article I’ve read in a women’s magazine in ages (and no, my standards aren’t dropping due to painkillers). About turning 40, it was by Antonella Gambotto-Burke, who I was delighted to see is a fellow Aussie (more unusual than you would think in a magazine like Vogue). I have found myself a new writer to admire. FYI, the article on the difficulty of finding a partner was much less horrific and more intelligent than I expected also. - Watched a whole lot of trash TV, including my first episodes of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, How to Look Good Naked (Carson is awesome!) and Bindi: The Jungle Girl (she wasn’t so bad, either - on second thoughts, maybe my standards are slipping - the Antonella Gambotto article really was excellent, though!). - On a related note, learned who this year’s Big Brother cast were (hate Nobbi, and Brigitte, and Terrance) and dreamt I was one of them throughout a particularly painful and patchy-sleeped night. - Also discovered that I quite like television news (I normally get my news off the web, and through newspapers when at work).
Am hoping I’m on the mend now, although am still struggling to walk more than around 50 metres.
“Is the ocean of short writing the web has generated due to our minds are getting dumber and incapable of paying attention to long articles, as Carr worries, or is it because we finally have a new vehicle and market place for loads of short things, whereas in the past it short was unprofitable to produce in such quantity? I doubt the former and suspect the latter is the better explanation.”— Will We Let Google Makes Us Smarter?, Kevin Kelly, in response to Nick Carr’s much talked about piece in the Atlantic, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”. (via kapookababy)
“I don’t want to be ‘sort of dating’ someone. I don’t want to be ‘kinda hanging out’ with someone. I don’t want to spend a lot of energy suppressing my feelings so I appear uninvolved. I want to be involved. I want to be sleeping with someone I know I’ll see again because they’ve already demonstrated to me that they’re trustworthy and honorable — and into me.”—
He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo (via babybitch)
Wow. I’ve always been derisive of that book, but I actually agree with this.
“Of course, this is partly women’s fault. Ain’t it always. We’re the ones who continually vote for old ugly dudes on the Men I’d Like To Fuck lists, as though females are somehow blind to male pulchritude. We’re the ones who’ve written much of the slathering copy about Har Mar - and doesn’t that just make all the little boys feel good about themselves? Hey! Chicks dig the ugly shit! I can just keep on going with my little hip-hop belly! And conversely, it’s us chicks who are the first ones to hissy-fit if some girl makes it to the page without being properly airbrushed first. Focus-group femmes pretend to want ‘real’ chicks in magazines, and then curl their lips and go ‘Oh. My. God. Did you SEE the SIZE of her ass! She’s like one of those rap guys’ girlfriends!’ when some bitch bigger than a 12 struts her stuff on a magazine mock-up. Feh.”—Via Amp (via gauntlet)