Usually, I post my weekend reading blog posts (and newsletter) on a Friday morning, every fortnight. From time to time, I will slip and not publish this post until a Friday afternoon.
Today, I’m posting this on a Sunday afternoon, at the end of the weekend instead of at the beginning, and while at first I felt bad about the delay, I’m reminding myself that it’s okay to need time, to allow myself to listen to my body and mind instead of always adhering to self-enforced timelines.
The week gone by has been a heavy, hectic one. I spent four straight days of being “on”—facilitating workshops, hosting panels, speaking at events, work travel, etc.—and the final day of the week was spent catching up on everything I missed from being “on” the previous few days.
As Friday rolled around, all I could dream of is a weekend ahead where I could spend some time reading, thinking, dreaming, and just being quietly lost alone in my own head.
That, I did. I finished reading a book, I watched a bunch of television, I drank delicious wine, I cooked and prepped a dozen meals for the week ahead, I went to a haunted house, I slept in (to 8:30am!), I journaled and wrote, and I spent a lot of time in my head, in thought.
About an hour ago, into my Sunday afternoon, I realized that I had not published my weekend reading blog post or newsletter, and I told myself that it was okay. Publishing and sharing, despite it being a solitary activity, is still being “on,” still projecting your social self to the world. I wasn’t ready to do that on Friday, or yesterday.
Today, I’m ready to emerge. After I publish this, I will go for a jog, and we will head to a friend’s place for dinner, and then I will attend a meeting for some civic advocacy a few of us in the community are planning.
I spent the time I needed in my head; now it’s time for me to re-enter the world, again.
A few words that were first used in print on the year of my birth:
These words (and others) say a lot about the state of the world at that time.
The age of envy: how to be happy when everyone else’s life looks perfect:
While envying other people is damaging enough, “We have something even more pernicious, I think,” the renowned social psychologist Sherry Turkle tells me. “We look at the lives we have constructed online in which we only show the best of ourselves, and we feel a fear of missing out in relation to our own lives. We don’t measure up to the lives we tell others we are living, and we look at the self as though it were an other, and feel envious of it.” This creates an alienating sense of “self-envy” inside us, she says. “We feel inauthentic, curiously envious of our own avatars.”
Antibiotics May Soon Become Useless. Now What?:
Accepting that antibiotics are infrastructure would change our relationship to the drugs, forcing us to recognize that medicine requires long-term planning. It might allow users to guide drug development in ways that a free market won’t allow. And it makes explicit a thing that has always been true, but never really articulated: The continued availability of antibiotics is as fundamental to the health of society as intact roads and reliable electric generation and robust sewage processing. In effect, they’re a component of national security.
Struggle porn has normalized sustained failure. It’s made it acceptable to fly to Bali and burn through your life savings trying to launch an Amazon dropshipping business. Made it reasonable to keep living on your parents money for years after graduation while you try to become #instafamous. Made LinkedIn into a depressingly hilarious circlejerk for people who look way too excited to be having their headshot taken.
Working hard is great, but struggle porn has a dangerous side effect: not quitting. When you believe the normal state of affairs is to feel like you’re struggling to make progress, you’ll be less likely to quit something that isn’t going anywhere.
The secret anxiety of the upwardly mobile:
Achieving mobility in the U.S. requires repeatedly getting the rubber stamp of approval from wealthier people — in formal moments like in applications for government benefits, schools, and jobs, and in informal moments like finding mentors and building the social connections leading to professional opportunities. Income and class are the subtle backdrops to virtually all American conversations — they’re there when we discuss what we eat, where we live, what we do for fun, and how we see the world — and in those moments, the upwardly mobile often choose between blending in and standing out, between going with the flow and challenging misconceptions about the families and communities that raised them.
Should Art Be a Battleground for Social Justice?:
The animating crisis of that era was sex — from the paranoia, shame and judgment during the AIDS epidemic to the national cataclysm of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. The animating crisis of this era is power: the abuse, sharing and stripping of it. Empowerment. Art might not have the privilege of being art for art’s sake anymore. It has to be art for justice’s sake. Suddenly, but for very different reasons, the kinds of people who used to be subject to censorship are now the purveyors of a not-dissimilar silencing. Something generational has shifted, even among the cool kids and artsy-fartsies. Members of the old anti-censorship brigades now feel they have to censor themselves.
Can a Cat Have an Existential Crisis?:
“I think you can say that many animals have some sense of time,” Marino says. “It may not be exactly as sophisticated as that in humans, but I think they are able to anticipate something, they know that something is going to happen in the future, even if it is just a few minutes or a few hours or a few days. It’s just not possible to survive with just being fearful, without also feeling some anxiety about what might happen or anticipate it, even in the simplest sense.”
Government jobs aren’t working for millennials. Here’s how that could change:
Governments need to change hiring to reflect today’s nature of work, which means getting accustomed to employing people for shorter amounts of time. “We shouldn’t be trying to get a 25-year-old to stay with government for a 30-year career. Young workers can’t imagine doing that anywhere, let alone government,” said Kettl.
Rather than conducting each job search individually, HR should create a pool of eligible candidates who are pre-screened and approved, so agencies can hire for the skills they need more quickly. This approach would speed up hiring to avoid losing sought-after talent, said Kettl.
Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.:
For people who can’t drive or choose not to, the dependence on cars in the U.S. is a huge mobility barrier. It also means that many drivers suffer long commutes on congested roads. Cars and trucks are the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S., worsening air quality and driving climate change. America’s dependence on them also contributes to the extremely high cost of housing in urban neighborhoods that are served by transit. Because so few places fit that description, people who prefer not to drive everywhere pay an enormous premium.
And a few more:
Before I go, this video of Hasan Minhaj and Tan France brought me such incredible joy—especially the part when they talk about the pronunciation of their names.
Of course, you can find this post (and many others) over on the blog. When was the last time you visited?
You just read issue #25 of Weekend Reading : Flashing Palely in the Margins. You can also browse the full archives of this newsletter.