How I (Sort Of) Replaced Twitter With a Diary

Crusty intellectual types are fond of expressing disgust with what they see as social media’s corrosive effect on our culture of Letters. Recently, we heard about it from deposed New Republic sage Leon Wieseltier in a mostly maddeningly opaque New York Times Book Review cover essay about disruption. “As the frequency of expression grows, the force of expression diminishes: Digital expectations of alacrity and terseness confer the highest prestige upon the twittering cacophony of one-liners and promotional announcements,” he wrote. “It was always the case that all things must pass, but this is ridiculous.” (The latter sentence would fit fabulously in a tweet, I thought ashamedly.) … Read More

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How the Internet Turns Justine Saccos Into Hester Prynnes

While people abusing the Internet’s power of anonymity to be cruel, and terrorizing through comments sections and social media, isn’t what anyone would call news (see: Amanda Hess’ award-winning “Why Women Aren’t Safe on the Internet,” Gamergate, etc.), a pair of articles in this weekend’s New York Times survey the damage in a way that suggests the Internet is in dire need of a code of ethics. With just one tiny misstep — or even just a misunderstanding — any one of us could become Hester Prynne for 15 minutes. … Read More

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Twitter CEO Promises to Fight Trolls — But Let’s Not Start Celebrating Yet

In the annals of stating the obvious, the internal Twitter forum post leaked to The Verge this week is destined to go down as a classic of the genre. “We,” proclaimed Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, “suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform.” Why yes, Dick. You do. You really, really do. The rest of the memo has been reported as a sort of internal mea culpa: “I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO,” Costolo wrote, adding that “I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.” Perhaps the most instructive line, however, is the following observation: “We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.” … Read More

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Stop Freaking Out About ‘Newsweek’s’ Silicon Valley Cover and Read the Story It’s Advertising

Behind every provocative magazine cover lies an article whose worth we can only determine by actually reading it. Newsweek’s cursor-lifting “upskirt” cover appeared last night, and initial outrage poured forth on Twitter, as it so often does. Then the article, “What Silicon Valley Thinks of Women,” was published. And it became clear, to me at least, that the cover was an extremely accurate representation of the content. Was it unnecessarily titillating, too? Maybe, but if it brought readers in, I think it did its job. … Read More

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Taylor Swift Emerges Victorious After Hacking

At this point, it’s never surprising when high-profile Twitter accounts get hacked (hell, the U.S. Military’s Twitter got hacked recently)… Read More

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Is Hathahatred a Cause of Coronary Heart Disease?: Links You Need to See

Because a new study has (sort of) found a correlation between trolling/bullying/being cynical on Twitter and dying in life, I’ve resolved to make this an overwhelmingly positive post: whatever is here discussed will be done in such a way that I won’t suffer from coronary heart disease. I’ll remain so positive as to not express any skepticism whatsoever re: the frequency of “scientific studies” that sound like the attention-grabbing biological equivalent of, well, an inflammatory Twitter post. The study in question, it turns out, just suggests that people who participate in cantankerous Twitter communities are more likely to drink, eat poorly, and cut themselves off from society — all of which are said to lead to coronary heart disease. Of course, if these people are being miserable on Twitter, they’re likely similarly miserable in life, and thus we’ve really learned very little. Except to stay positive and see everything, including this thing in which we learned very little, as an important learning experience. … Read More

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#JeSuisGroot Protests Groot’s Oscar Snub

Oscar nominations were released this morning, and just like every other time the Academy has unveiled its list of nominees,… Read More

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10 Nonfiction Books That Will Define the Conversation in 2015

With the advent of a new year, there’s a whole new fleet of books on deck that we’ll have the chance to read and argue about throughout 2015. Whether it’s history, biography, the endless parade of celebrity brand-extension books (we’ll learn what Aziz Ansari has found out about “modern romance” in the age of Tinder, and chuckle at Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? ), “diary” books by writers like Sarah Manguso and Heidi Julavits, Stacy Schiff’s long-in-the-works book about the Salem witch trials (October 2015), or memoir, there’s a book for every possible interest this year. Here’s are ten that people are sure to be talking about, on topics ranging from rock ‘n’ roll to American tragedies of the past and present. … Read More

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“Je Suis Charlie” Appears in Different Languages on ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Website

After the shooting at the offices of Parisian satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo left 12 dead and 4 critically injured this… Read More

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