Wednesday, May 27th, 2020


Ennui the People

The germ that has invaded our nations, inflicted our communities, and infected our air has made further inroads into our lives. Now it's in our heads. According to the latest census data, there's been a bum rush on feeling bummed. "Some groups have been hit harder than others. Rates of anxiety and depression were far higher among younger adults, women and the poor. The worse scores in young adults were especially notable, given that the virus has been more likely to kill the elderly or leave them critically ill." WaPo: A third of Americans now show signs of clinical anxiety or depression.

+ "Feelings of numbness, powerlessness, and hopelessness are now so common as to verge on being considered normal. But what we are seeing is far less likely an actual increase in a disease of the brain than a series of circumstances that is drawing out a similar neurochemical mix. This poses a diagnostic conundrum. Millions of people exhibiting signs of depression now have to discern ennui from temporary grieving from a medical condition." James Hamblin in The Atlantic: Is Everyone Depressed? (Or is it that some people are still realists...)

+ Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker: The New Theatrics of Remote Therapy. "As therapists, we use our own counter-transference, our watchful, hovering empathy, to do our work. That's difficult online. All the minutiae, my going out, meeting them at the door, their taking a chair or the couch—you don't have that anymore. And I'm seeing the patients in their own home. One patient greeted me in an undershirt." (I usually visit my shrink shirtless because I want him to understand the full scope of the problem...)

+ This inevitable mental health crisis is the exact reason I dropped the paid promotions in NextDraft and started publicizing Crisis Text Line instead. If you're struggling, you're definitely not alone, and there are people waiting to help.


Small Town Oy

"I have been keeping an eye on the numbers for Kennett Square because these are the most important ones for me and my family. It indicates our immediate risk level. It's the kind of thing a local reporter would write about, if there were any local reporters." Mark Bowden on why the demise of local news is a pandemic emergency: Small Towns Won't Know They're Infected Until It's Too Late.


Seen of the Crime

The more we test, the more sick people we find. The more we video, the more murdering of black men we see. Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired after a Black man died begging a white officer to stop crushing his neck. And even though these stories are sadly common, this video manages to shock.

+ Rubber bullets, chemical irritant, water bottles in air as thousands march to protest George Floyd's death. The protest in pictures.

+ Meanwhile, the white woman who called called police on black bird-watcher in central park has been fired.


Liar’s Paradox

Just as he approached the 20,000 false or misleading claims mark, Twitter dinged the Troll in Chief with his first platform fact check. Trump responded with ... a lie. "Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen! The president also took time out of his busy schedule fighting Covid-19 to celebrate layoffs at one of the greatest publications. "The boring but very nasty magazine, The Atlantic, is rapidly failing, going down the tubes, and has just been forced to announce it is laying off at least 20% of its staff in order to limp into the future." (America is about to lay off 100% of your administration.) We probably don't need to dig too deep to figure out which article was triggering. Meanwhile, he falsely accused someone of murder again. In other news: 100,000.

+ NPR: Social Media Usage Is At An All-Time High. That Could Mean A Nightmare For Democracy.

+ While Twitter is taking babysteps in the right direction, Facebook is taking big ones the other way. Like other platforms, Facebook is a hotbed for violent extremism and it doesn't seem to care.


Byte Dance Cuts In

China has long dominated in hardware. But with TikTok, a Chinese company is proving it can do software and take a big chunk of America's social media mindshare. Bloomberg: ByteDance Hit $3 Billion in Net Profit Last Year. (Wait a second. A profitable internet unicorn? That's cheating!)


The Wheels on the Bus Come Off

There's some disagreement about what we should open when. There's remarkable unanimity about how we're gonna get there. People are understandably reticent to take public transportation. And those who can, will drive to work. Hence, traffic could be unreal. (I call shotgun. And all the other seats as well.)


Mourning in America

Reuters: With black masks and silence, Spain mourns its coronavirus dead. (Spain's leaders didn't handle this crisis that well, but wearing masks, being silent, and actually mourning the dead are three things Americans would love to see at the top.)

+ Andy Slavitt: We Haven't Properly Mourned the 100,000 Lives Taken by Covid-19.


Pool Supplies

", an online radio station, might be the chillest place online: a place where it's perpetually the summer of 1997, and where, as the intro copy says, 'safety comes second and drinks come first.' Per its founder Marty Bell, the site has dosed a bunch of people with the neurotransmitter they crave — it crossed 1 million listening sessions in the last year with zero staff and zero marketing. Online, that's about as close as you can get to becoming a being made of pure sunlight." The Verge: The chillest place you should be hanging out right now. I don't like pools, chill music, or even chilling in general. But I like this.


Feel Good Wednesday

A 10-year-old girl has sent more than 1,500 art kits to kids in foster care and homeless shelters during the coronavirus pandemic.

+ A young boy is having the time of his life during quarantine with a wooden backyard roller coaster that his grandfather built for him. (I helped my son set up a webpage.)

+ New York dog snags Guinness World Record for holding six tennis balls in his mouth, on his own. (He basically looks like I do during every quarantine meal...)

+ A nurse on the Covid-19 frontline reconnects with New York City firefighter who rescued her from a burning building 37 years ago.


Wrap Sheet

"Schools, restaurants, workplaces, and shops have installed plexiglass shields and plastic curtains, tents, and screens as measures to prevent the spread of the virus, leading to a new social landscape of clear-plastic barriers. Some nursing homes have been using chambers with plastic walls that keep visitors separate, yet allow much-needed contact." A photo collection from InFocus: Socializing in a Pandemic, Protected by Plastic.

+ Reminder: The NextDraft Shirt Store is Open. And now there are remarkably cool masks as well.