Reddits Manosphere and the Challenge of Quantifying Hate

Away from the main thoroughfares of r/Showerthoughts and r/mildlyinteresting, far from the light of r/aww, there is Reddit’s “manosphere.” It’s a confederacy of men’s rights subreddits, so named because it’s a place where women are unwelcome. Manosphere members might think of themselves as “involuntarily celibate,” like the man who drove a van into Toronto pedestrians last year, or something more empowered and oblique, like “men going their own way.” In either mode, they are united by their belief that modern men aren’t getting their due, and the usurpers, in their eyes, are women. Though the communities themselves tend to be relatively small—even big ones have only about 100,000 members—their impact is felt across the web. They incubate predator trolls, they …

While You Were Offline: Trump Went Into North Korea

To begin with, a programming note: While you're reading this in its usual time slot, it was compiled before the July Fourth holiday, so—unfortunately—there's not a collection of tweets about President Trump's reportedly expensive Independence Day celebration. Apologies for that. Nonetheless, there's still a lot to catch up on. Last week was one that uncovered a secret Facebook group where immigration officials joke about migrant deaths, even as more and more people die in US custody and conditions at border facilities turn out to be worse than believed. It was also the week where the Trump administration let go of its quest to have a question about citizenship on the 2020 US census, and everyone continued to fall in love …

In Defense of Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is the internet’s favorite condiment villain. The egg, oil, and vinegar emulsion is a symbol not only for blandness, but for whiteness and all its attendant cultural appropriation and entitlement. It symbolizes the whitewashing of culture. It looks like something extruded from a teenage pimple or a long festering wound. Plus, haters love to point out, it’s terrible for you. It’s all fat! And salt! And because of the eggs, it's dangerous! If you leave a potato salad made with it out too long at your BBQ, everyone could get salmonella and then you're literally a murderer. Do you really love mayonnaise enough to murder a Fourth of July party for it? Yes, I do. And it's worse than …

5 Queer People on How They Found Their Chosen Families

It's a fairly common tale in the LGBTQ+ community: Queer people move away from home and build new families of their own. They go to cities, find friends and partners, and form a network. Since many queer individuals are rejected (or just simply tolerated) by their families of origin, this new support network is a place where they can shine and be their authentic selves. Anyone who has ever seen an episode of Pose knows this. Yet, with the spread of social media, messages boards, and apps, the ways in which LGBTQ+ folks find each other has changed dramatically. Some still find their chosen family IRL, but others do it by popping up in someone's DMs. To mark the conclusion …

Spiff Up Your Real-World Skills With Old-Timey YouTube

Early humans probably didn't survive by starting fires the cartoon way, scrubbing a stick between their palms until snap, crackle, poof! It's not that the technique doesn't work; it's just really slow and can leave you with enormous, puffy blisters across your palms. To demonstrate, John Plant, the YouTuber behind the channel Primitive Technologies, flashes his torn-up mitts for the camera, scratching at the yellow sores on his already dirty and calloused hands. Then he sits on the ground, shoeless and shirtless, and hits a rock with another rock until he bores a hole through the middle. He puts a straight stick snapped from a nearby tree through the hole and twists tree bark into twine, which he wraps around …

Why You Can’t Look Away From #CursedImages

A baby grinning at a meat grinder as pulverized flesh extrudes into a bowl. A slice of pizza in a pot of boiling water. A toilet, barely visible, installed inside the mouth of a cave. A teddy bear with human teeth. All of these images, in the eyes of the internet, are cursed. The found photos are unaccountably horrifying, hilarious, and baffling all at once, examples of one of the web’s most enduring meme forms, a bit of internet culture at its most wonderfully, deliberately senseless. They are the perfect online attention trap: Once your eyes land on a cursed image, it’s difficult to look away. And when you do, it’s hard not to scroll on for more. The genre …

Depth of Field: The Spooky Symmetry of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

Symmetry disquiets. So often people, objects, or circumstances align too perfectly, too terrifyingly for our comfort. Order can feel unsettling and foreign when chaos is the sole unchanging factor. This week, nothing brought that notion to light more starkly than the image of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner standing, uniformly framed, in a window at Buckingham Palace. Captured by Samir Hussein, the inanimate, spooky tone of the photograph evokes an immediate emotional reaction. There's a strange emptiness to it all, and yet the picture is rich in metaphorical dimension. Its composition carries a dark tenor, reflective of present and lurking evils. What is it trying to tell us? Starting Monday, President Trump, along with his family, made a state visit …

Does Twitter Even Know How to Tweet?

Franz Reichelt, the Flying Taylor, leapt from the Eiffel Tower on February 4, 1912, expecting his homemade parachute to do its job. Nobody actually thought he would jump. To secure deck access, Reichelt had assured Parisian police that he would be sending a dummy over the edge. When the chute failed to fill, it was very much a real person who hit the ground. The French press immediately seized upon Reichelt as a morality tale—the foolish Icarian inventor who disregarded warnings and became the broken embodiment of the cost of moving too fast. The modern-day Reichelt is not a man, but a corporation: Twitter. The social media platform is, as everyone has said innumerable times, deeply flawed, yet it blithely …

Optimization Smackdown: Hustle Porn vs. Zen Porn

This story is part of a series on how we make time—from productivity hacks and long walks to altering the function of our own circadian clocks. Melody Wilding’s hair had started falling out. Her heart fluttered wildly in her chest even in moments of calm, and on the weekends she felt too drained to get out of bed. “I was 20 years old,” she says, “but I felt 70.” The problem wasn’t depression or disease or anything pharmaceutically fixable. It was burnout: a totalizing exhaustion created by Wildling’s self-described “typical type A, overachiever personality” and its hyperdisciplined fixation on productivity. Her mind told her to do more, but her body had had enough. The quest for self-optimization has long consumed …

On Pooping in the DarkNo Lights, No Phones, No Distractions

This story is part of a series on how we make time—from productivity hacks and long walks to altering the function of our own circadian clocks. Pooping today is a plugged-in, plugged-up project. At least three-quarters of Americans, including 96 percent of members of Gen Z, shit with their smartphones. Straining away, they text, date, and Google “hemorrhoids” at three times the pre-iPhone rate. I have a friend who spends his longer movements calling his mother. Amazon sells hundreds of toilet paper holders with phone shelves. Among the top rated is an aluminum rack touting its “versatile convenience”: “the large, wide design not only holds your cell phone, it can be used as a rest for baby diapers, girl used …

Inside the Hybrid Digital-Analog Lives of Children

Kids today are voracious technology consumers for sure, but they are also active participants—creators, collaborators, and even influencers. So parents have much more to wrestle with than some broad-brush notion of “screen time.” Whatever you think of Fortnite, when children play it they are working together as a team (that’s good!), in a tech-mediated environment (is that bad?); and they’re not just playing a videogame, they’re socializing—factor that into your screen-time calculus. The youngs are also creating their own content, from unboxing toy reviews and “watch me play Minecraft” videos to DIY slime posts on Instagram, some of them attracting massive audiences and making serious money. They have agency and aspirations online, which makes them vulnerable to the same forces …

What the College Scandal Shallowfakes Reveal About the Rich

Photoshop played an outsize role in the odious college admissions scandal that broke earlier this year. Rick Singer, the concierge to the stars who pleaded guilty in March to money laundering and racketeering in a scheme to get rich children into luxury-brand colleges, used the software to graft the heads of teens onto the muscled bodies of elite athletes. With the Photoshopped water polo image in particular, the one that helped an undistinguished high schooler get recruited by USC, Singer seems to have created a mythological creature—a Ceto for the digital age. Call them the Collegiae: They’ve got the heads of princesses and the bodies of serpents. To mark the moment, a Twitter friend, Peter Mohan, ginned up an image …

So Long to Grumpy Cat, Amazons Special Warehouses, and More News

We're pouring one out for Grumpy Cat, Amazon is doing damage control after some bear-spray incidents, and ocean plastics are choking us out. Here's the news you need to know, in two minutes or less. Today's Headlines Grumpy Cat is headed to cat heaven The viral sensation Grumpy Cat passed away at 7 years old today, and with her a time where the internet was a joyful and united place. Let us all honor her memory by remembering the time when our memes were all as pure and fluffy as she was. Plastics aren't just strangling animals, but us too Scientists have revealed that the toxins from plastics in the ocean can leach into seawater and inhibit the growth and …

How Twitter Became My Sacred Space

I woke up one day, at age 38, and realized I was the worst kind of bored housewife. My kids were old enough to no longer need me, my amusing(ish) satirical novels were largely being unread, and my life had become a dull hum of paint colors and upholstery. I live on New York’s Upper East Side, where everyone shares the same small, incredibly specific concerns—private schools, vacations, and getting our husbands to notice us. I was drowning in provincialism. And so, like any well-adjusted person, I took to the internet. I went to Twitter originally to express my displeasure at the way the president of the United States was running things. I was devastated by the election and looking …

Breaking My Phone AddictionVia My Phone

Most of the meetings of Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous take place online, which is more sensible than it sounds. Colloquy via web-based conference call might help tech burnouts clear the first hurdle in recovery: asking for help. If your idea of social life is a four-day Twitch bender played under a codename, at least you don't have to leave behind all the comforts of home—screens, anonymity—when you're demoralized enough by digital compulsions to bust open a FreeConferenceCall.com tab. Four English-language ITAA conference calls take place each week, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and weekend days at noon. Live meetings, where addicts in folding chairs share wisdom and complaints with other addicts, don't seem to last long; in-person groups meet for …