When You Start By Wrapping Your Arms Around These Powerful Tabs, Literally Everything Is Possible
It's still giving Tuesday.
“It’s always Tuesday somewhere,” as the saying goes, and today somewhere is right here and Tuesday is right now, unless you’re reading this in the future or the past, in which case Tuesday is probably somewhere else. That’s the problem with time, you can’t trust it. For example:
“They’re Here to Save Indie Media” wrote Cara Schacter in The NY Times, and wouldn’t you swear you’ve seen this exact article already? But last time weren’t the fresh-faced indie media darlings (one dark, one fair) slightly older, a bit more autumnal? The same pair of cofounders but projected backwards in time, Christopher Nolan style, into a more explicitly Marxist future that somehow took place in February, 2022?
Things just keep happening, one after another, or sometimes vice-versa. Cracker Barrel has fallen. Joe Biden’s corrupt paper thin garage door has entered the election discourse. “When you start by wrapping your arms around this powerful vision, literally everything is possible,” writes new Zombo.com CEO Linda Yaccarino. And Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan will step down from the paper to lead the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation’s Center For Not Pointing Out That Reagan Gutting Unions and the Social Safety Net Led Directly to the Present Resurgence of Fascism in America Because That Would Be Rude. He will be replaced temporarily by Microsoft. Recruiters, get your pitch in front of Taylor Lorenz now, before she’s swamped.
As for what I was doing yesterday instead of writing this newsletter, Intern Mariam has the scoop:
You’re in his DMs, thotting. I’m in my bed, rotting. We are not the same.
“Bed rotting” is exactly what it sounds like: getting into bed and “rotting” for hours or days as a form of mental and physical self-care. Because the internet flattens all nuance, the discourse around how healthy the practice is basically boils down to TikTok psychiatrist @drjessigold’s question of whether the bed rot is “restorative or avoidant.” The first is a blissful state of horizontality, “chief nourisher in life's feast” ever since Macbeth doth murdered it. The second is… well: “‘it’s called depression’ ya i’m aware babes xx” Olivia O'Brien observed, and if you think maybe it’s aestheticizing mental illness just a tad, zeitgeisty writer Rayne Fisher-Quann would probably agree with you:
i am still filtering my experiences through the eyes of a consumer; the desire to editorialize our own experiences…has become an autonomic facet of womanhood as unavoidable as breathing.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that every bed rot TikTok I see belongs to a woman. TikTok trends are about identity, and all internet identity is to some extent performative, which is why this idea of “mental illness as a fun personality quirk,” is one I don’t see going anywhere anytime soon, no matter its potential dangers.
This particular trend is relatively harmless and Not That Deep, so of course The New York Post has already tried to turn it into a moral indictment of Gen Z’s work ethic. The haters can’t stand that the hot girls won’t stand!
As a certified bed rotting girlie™️ myself, I can say my horizontality is both restorative and avoidant, and when I work from bed, it can even be productive (it’s giving Prousting). Sometimes laying down is just laying down. Other times it’s a depressive episode. The question is: are you in your rot era or is your rot era in you?
—Mariam Sharia prefers to think of it as “life composting”
Also Today In Bed Rotting: Emily Gould’s New York Magazine newsletter “Making It” returned with her picks for the best TV to watch when your choices are either bed rotting or taking a permanent Benadryl nap. And an Ecuadorian family learned the vital difference between a deep bed rot and actual death, when their 76-year-old matriarch woke up and started pounding on the coffin at her own wake.
If you’ve never heard of MrBeast, he has somehow become one of the most famous people in the world without really affecting any part of it outside of YouTube. But even Max Read couldn’t find any depths to plumb in Jimmy Donaldson.
Donaldson has an easygoing manner and a charming, goofy enthusiasm, but no immediate televisual charisma. He is not particularly funny or well spoken or physically striking: If you created an average of the faces of all 25-year-old white North Carolinians, you would probably end up with something like Donaldson’s.
The takeaway seems to be that MrBeast exists only within and through the context of Youtube, so if you don’t want to know anything else about him, you probably don’t need to.
The Reddit Thing: Technology companies can die in one of two ways: either by failing or by succeeding. For an unusually long time Reddit hasn’t quite done either one and, like a Christmas goose, has grown bloated with the valuable grease of free user-created content. Its owners now find themselves in possession of an irresistible morsel to dangle in front of the public financial markets so that as Alex Pareene put it:
Advance Publications, Tencent, and various venture capitalists… can cash out this year, having already missed their chance for a much greater payout at the height of the Reddit-driven meme stock craze.
Everyone involved knows that this is not being done for the good of the website, any more than slaughter is for the good of the goose. It’s just time for harvest, and if you’ve ever slaughtered poultry you know that the first step is to starve the animal for a few days and make sure its gut is empty. “More than 7,000 subreddits have gone dark to protest Reddit’s API changes,” reported Jay Peters and Jon Porter in The Verge on Reddit management’s decision to start charging for API access in two weeks. The protest may work in the short term, because presenting Reddit as a lively knowledge sharing community is an important part of IPO investor storytime. But what Advance et al are actually selling is a huge database of text, which will continue to exist no matter what the users do now or in the future. The value has already been created. Brian Feldman made some good points about the vile “creator economy” and he’s right that:
Redditors, at the very least, understand that posting is charity. Facilitating posting is also charity. And charity is good, actually.
But he continues:
Here’s an analogy: let’s say I invite a friend to the bar. I buy the first round and we shoot the shit. Then, my friend buys the second round and we continue shooting the shit. Then, I buy the third round and we shoot the shit a bit more, and then we both call it a night and go home. Only a real weirdo would object to the fact that I voluntarily paid for more drinks than my friend, and that the bar keeps all the money, and that nobody else heard the funny comments I was making, so I didn’t even grow my audience. Who cares? I had a nice evening and a nice conversation even if I ended the night in the red financially.
The problem with this analogy is that Reddit isn’t a charity, nor is it a bar selling you drinks. It’s a bar offering you a free seat in exchange for a permanent record of all the shit you shoot there, which is now owned by Advance Publications Inc. and will be walled off and sold to whoever wants to pay the most to use it as gavage for the AI they plan to give your job to. If Reddit were a co-op, or even just a regular nonprofit, it could probably operate usefully forever. Oh well! At least we still have Quora, where someone asked “I am facing 30 years to life in federal prison. Should I take some clothes to prison?” and every response told them to flee to Mexico.
Authors’ Corner: Olivia Messer got the first of what promise to be many forthcoming Caroline Calloway exclusives. According to Connor Wroe Southard in Blood Knife, “AI Writing Proves the Author is Very Much Alive.” But not the author Cormac McCarthy, who is dead at age 89. McCarthy is famous for books like “Outer Dark,” about how fucking your sister can lead to trouble, and “The Passenger,” about how not fucking your sister can lead to trouble.
Today’s Song: Metronomy, “Lately”
Also, thanks to Woodstock, for the signoff.