Are The Internet Culture Reporters Ok?


Vox’s senior internet culture correspondent Rebecca Jennings managed to write an article against discourse bait that is itself discourse bait, starting with 450 words about a bad tweet that ironically end with the advice: “You simply have to ignore discourse bait.” And why?

Discourse bait, by capitalizing on our worst, most myopic and individualist impulses, is making us less human and making it easier for moneyed interests to exploit us. And this, I would argue to my dear subway station etiquette tweeter, is how societies end.

And, we’re off the rails. What should be doing instead of dunking on girl dinner? Apparently “curating beautiful Pinterest wedding boards even if you have no intention of getting married.” I think this piece is a cry for help. Speaking of which:

Ben Collins tweeted: “After all that, you’ve gotta admit: it is very weird Elon and Linda never responded to me.”

Bro, he famously replaced the whole comms department with a poop emoji, it’s not weird. I’m concerned for the safety of our internet culture journalists, who day in and day out take the risk of reporting on the most reprehensible nonsense humanity has ever created. And my friends, they are not doing well. Alexander Nazaryan’s review of Taylor Lorenz’s book is genuinely deranged, so drenched with rage spittle I had to squeegee off my browser to get through it. I think OSHA needs to start setting maximum permissible exposure limits to the internet for journalists.

Anyway I don’t have time to worry about “discourse bait,” I’m too busy doing serious work in the archive.

Some dumbass posted: “absolutely despise it when humanities academics talk about "loving books." you shouldn't love books and you shouldn't demand anyone else to love books, it is wildly inappropriate. just fundamentally not the correct way to do serious work in the archive”

Too unhip to even realize we’ve all stopped saying “clickbait,” The Messenger “signs a deal to ‘eliminate bias’ and flag ‘clickbait’ with AI” writes Sarah Scire for Nieman Lab. Launched in May with a reported $50 million venture capital budget, The Messenger anticipates attracting its first reader very soon.

Former Speaker of the House and guy in the background of every “business office” stock photo Kevin McCarthy got the boot yesterday, the first time that’s happened to any Speaker in history. I love this for him, we all knew Kev’s reign would be historic. Rafi Schwartz did good dunks on Matt Gaetz about it in Discourse. What happens now? Same as what happened before: everything gets even more stupid.

Today in Crabs:

A meme image with a Blue crab, Cancer pagurus and a Fiddler crab photoshopped onto 3 bodies all looking at cell phones and it says “ Don’t ask me WYD? You already know I’m supporting complex ecosystems and making incomprehensible memes with the Homies”

Also, in Philly: BIG CRAB HEIST!

But what if hot young women filming themselves in the London Underground was fun and festive and unbothered, instead of fussy and discourse bait provoking? Intern Meggie thinks it might look something like…

Tube Girl is Tiktok’s latest “film yourself in public” trend. More artistic than Wes Anderson’s Netflix autumn, the “tube girl” concept involves filming yourself with your phone’s .5x zoom back lens and moving your arm around mechanically, getting the hottest angles possible to select eurotrash music. London resident Sabrina Bahsoon is the mastermind behind this trend, gathering over a million views on each video after a month of posting on public transportation, securing a deal with M.A.C cosmetics and landing a BBC profile. This week she’s blown the lid off her tube empire with appearances at Paris Fashion Week working the Valentino SS24 show, and flouncing past Penn Badgley to get her shot.

One of the original tube girl Tiktoks: Sabrina doing her little dance on an Underground train, with the caption “Being the friend who lives on the other side of the city so you gotta hype yourself up during the commute.”

And that’s just one celebrity cameo who’s popped up. Here’s Omar Apollo! There’s renowned “not bottomTroye Sivan! Sabrina, if you read Today in Tabs, I am also a gay celebrity with free availability willing to film on the London Underground. 

Meggie Gates is probably the first Intern who has ever used this platform so shamelessly, and so correctly. 

Absolutely shoot your shot Meggie, but Sabrina seems to be having a fabulous and successful time pursuing her hobby of looking like an absolute lunatic in public, so she is definitely not reading this newsletter.

muscleskoals posted: “mike’s hard problem of consciousness”

Be consistent: Since I started this newsletter, a lot of people (mostly men!) have reached out and asked me how I made it successful. At first, I took their calls and would explain patiently how I set a plan, publish regularly, and look at data and stats and comments to see what resonates; how I can build off what does well, and what I can learn from what fails. I also talked about the different types of content and the value of community. But every time I did this, I’d watch as they didn’t listen. One even told me, “Thanks for your advice, but I’m going to do what this other person told me.” Okay, well, his newsletter is now defunct.  

I don’t take those calls anymore. It’s not because I don’t want to be helpful. I’m just tired of putting my energy into people and places that don’t respect me and my work. But if you want to know: The key to writing a successful newsletter is the same as the key to any writing – just be consistent. I write every week. I plan out my content, research, go deep, and have fun, but always, I put a newsletter in your inbox. Sure, I’ve taken vacations. But even then, I pre-schedule newsletters and get guest writers. This is a business and I take it seriously, even the goofy stuff.

This is just correct advice, imagine ignoring it. I know you’d never.

Today’s Song: Calla, “It Dawned on Me”

I think I’ve forgotten to suggest you become a paid subscriber every day this week so hopefully this subscribe link will release a torrent of pent-up demand. I have two reasons why you should pay for what is, effectively, a free newsletter: 1) to join the Discord and finally get under your OSHA limit for social media exposure, and 2) so that Tabs can stay effectively free. Thanks to Music Intern Sam, Words Intern Meggie, Mysterious Benefactor Ruth Ann, Discord Moderation Intern Jane and everyone in the Tabs Discord for keeping it real and holding it down and generally keeping it real down.

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