I’ve read a bunch of stuff on the internet this past week that I feel compelled to share and discuss.
Frustratingly, I lack the time to actually write thoughtful responses, but my hope is that by sharing them, y’all can benefit, and maybe we can talk about it together.
Ok, let’s get to reading:
Pick Me Pick Me Pick Me, by Summer Pierre
I have spent the entirety of my life HOPING to be picked. This isn’t to say that I haven’t TRIED being picked—I absolutely have. However, the real truth of it is I have spent a great deal of my time hoping to be picked, which is to say, toiling away in the obscurity of my bedroom, wondering when I am going to be discovered. I believed that if I did good work and people saw it, I would be picked.
Then I was picked and [my books were] published and well, I had spent so much of my time hoping for this moment I did not understand that being picked is not an end, it’s actually a responsibility. You STILL need to pick yourself in order to keep going in that picked world. I had a lot of expectations about being published—99% were totally unrealistic. Mainly, I thought it would launch me on a new more exciting and RESOLVED path. I wouldn’t have to work so hard (HA!) in justifying my existence (double HA!). I thought it would dry up my yearning for acknowledgement, my yearning for nurturing work, my yearning in general (triple HA!).
Read it: Pick Me Pick Me Pick Me
No more love on the run: playing the long game, By Helen Jane Hearn
Strangely enough, in digital media, we assume that popularity should grow steadily over time, but we have no evidence in any kind of related arts business that would prove this — it’s cyclical, it’s random, it makes no sense, it’s a sixth Fast and Furious movie (which I LOVE and I can still say it makes no sense).
Music, movies, they have hits, they have misses, but best of all, their creators have artistic growth over time. They’re stretching and growing their work.
This digital culture is weird for a few other reasons too. We accidentally believe that creating is about ego when in fact the opposite is true.
It’s not about ego and fame.
It’s about the opposite. It’s about humility and sacrifice.
It’s about appetite.
It’s about my audience.
The Comment Paradox, by Charlie Warzel
As such, the thankless job of comment moderation has never been more difficult. Moderators are privy to some of the darkest elements of human behavior. Digital confrontations can sometimes bleed into the physical world; the job exacts a very real and emotional toll. And yet dissonance exists here too: It’s the moderators who are, by and large, the most ardent supporters of comment sections.
Justin Isaf, the former director of community for the Huffington Post and longtime moderator, notes that the job can quickly overwhelm even seasoned veterans. “There are times where mentally it’s just horrible, and it will twist your view of humanity to quite a degree,” Isaf told BuzzFeed. “I’ve left jobs because I couldn’t handle it. It got to a point with my mental sanity where dealing with hatred day in and day out and trying to shape the conversation got the better of me.”
Read it: The Comment Paradox
Google Alert for the Soul, by Rob Horning
Social media are forums where we can test our uniqueness. While this can provide a sense of triumph (congratulations! 20 retweets!), it can also yield paranoia and a constant feeling of self-promoting phoniness as checking one’s reblogs, likes, messages, and comments becomes compulsive.
The calculating self-consciousness cannibalizes authenticity, contravenes spontaneous self-expression. Authenticity starts to merely measure the gap between who we’re trying to be and how we are actually seen rather than stand for some intrinsic essence. And given how social media can decontextualize these authenticity games, we can’t possibly know how large that gap is. It becomes conceivably infinite.
Authenticity as fidelity to an autonomous, unified a priori self becomes untenable. Social media inevitably confront us with our inconsistencies and our poses.
Read it: Google Alert for the Soul
Warning: this last read is so dense that I had to print it out (!) and use highlighter (!!) to fully digest the concepts. As an editor, I wanted to rewrite the entire piece to make it more digestable (I think Horning buries his concepts in inaccessible language — and I say that as someone who gets a major boner for big words) but some of you may be more patient with dense academic writing. The concepts presented are fascinating.