Thursday, February 17th, 2022


Social Life in the Fast Lane

When it comes to internet use and social media, the last couple of years have been the best of times and the worst of times. While it's hard to have a nuanced debate, that's just what the discussion of social media requires (so it's probably best not to debate social media on social media). I'll use my own daughter as an example (she's not a subscriber, so she'll never know...). Covid came for the key years of her adolescent development. On one hand, during quarantine, social media provided her with a critical connection with her friends with whom she could no longer interact. On the other hand, her social media use has clearly gotten out of hand. And that worries me because I can see the negative impacts with my own eyes. And studies that suggest there's no downside to social media use, especially among teen girls, don't sway me one bit. Fortunately, they didn't sway Jean Twenge, Jonathan Haidt, and Kevin Cummins either. They took a closer look at a recent study suggesting that social media is relatively harmless for teen girls and found it was off the mark because it conflated screen time with social media. From WaPo (Gift Article): Social media is riskier for kids than screen time: "The paper's definition of 'screen time' included watching TV or simply owning a computer as well as healthy social interaction such as talking with friends on the phone. It also included social media, known for being more performative and toxic. Does the story change when we limit the analysis to social media, which is where teenagers gather most often? It does, enormously. In a new paper, we used the same advanced statistical technique and found that the link between social media use and poor mental health for girls was 10 times as large as what the Oxford paper identified for 'screen time.' A recent paper by two Spanish statisticians also examined the Oxford researchers' techniques and also found a much stronger link. These findings fit with Facebook's internal research, leaked by a whistleblower and published last fall, which concluded that Instagram led to depression and body image issues, particularly among teenage girls."

The internet is not one thing. And our policies around it can't be shoehorned to fit every scenario. When my daughter is Facetiming, group chatting, or on calls with friends, it's probably pretty positive developmentally, while her addiction to TikTok and use of Instagram is likely harmful. Of course, I rarely know which set of internet tools she's using, because she doesn't want me anywhere near her social life, even virtually, and because I'm so addicted to Twitter, I really don't have all that much free time to parent, anyway.

+ "In early 2020 Ava noticed that one fan, EricJustin111, was trying to get her attention in comments on TikTok ... Early on July 10, the fan — Eric Rohan Justin, 18, of Ellicott City, Md. — arrived with a shotgun at the Majury family home in Naples and blew open the front door. His weapon jammed; Ava's father, Rob Majury, a retired police lieutenant, chased him off but fell. Mr. Majury told Collier County sheriff's officers that he returned to the house, retrieved his handgun and stood guard at the front door, only to see the gunman return a short time later. By sunrise Mr. Justin lay dying, shot by Mr. Majury." NYT (Gift Article): A Child's TikTok Stardom Opens Doors. Then a Gunman Arrives. I'm not sharing this story because I think violence like this is a common outcome of social media use. It's just a really interesting read (particularly for any dudes on my daughter's TikTok who are thinking of dropping by...)


False Flag Pole Position

"We have reason to believe they are engaged in a false flag operation to have an excuse to go in." Biden says Russia is preparing pretext to invade Ukraine. And, Blinken lays out Putin's playbook for Ukraine invasion at UN hearing. "U.S. intelligence suggests Russia's attack will unfold in several stages, starting with a manufactured pretext."

+ The US strategy is to lay out exactly what intel suggests Putin will do in the hopes that it will delay or prevent him from doing it. But Putin is already at war with Ukraine. It's just not as visible as traditional warfare. ‘Kill Your Commanding Officer': On the Front Lines of Putin's Digital War With Ukraine. "The Russians have for nearly a decade used Ukraine as a proving ground for a new and highly advanced type of hybrid warfare — a digital-meets-traditional kind of fighting defined by a reliance on software, digital hardware and cognitive control that is highly effective, difficult to counter and can reach far beyond the front lines deep into Ukrainian society. It is a type of high-tech conflict that many military experts predict will define the future of war. It has also turned Ukraine, especially its eastern provinces, but also the capital, into a bewildering zone of instability, disinformation and anxiety." (Bewildering zone of instability, disinformation and anxiety wouldn't be a bad tagline for the internet...)


Unattached Garage

"Few people had a problem getting them before. Now everyone seems to have that problem. Prices have doubled or tripled in the past year. Lead times have stretched from weeks to months. Homebuilders who would once order [them] several weeks before finishing a house are now ordering them before the foundation is poured." 4 Bed, 3 Bath, No Garage Door: The Unlikely Woes Holding Up Home Building. (There are so few cars available for sale, you can just leave the garage doors off at this point.)

+ Related: An Abandoned Cargo Ship Carrying Porsches and VWs Is Burning in the Atlantic. (They'll still go for above MSRP...)


Francis Ford Focus

"If I could summarize the plot for you in a concise way, I would, but I can't, because Coppola can't either. Ask him. 'It's very simple,' he'll say. 'The premise of Megalopolis? Well, it's basically… I would ask you a question, first of all: Do you know much about utopia?' The best I can do, after literally hours talking about it with him, is this: It's a love story that is also a philosophical investigation of the nature of man; it's set in New York, but a New York steeped in echoes of ancient Rome; its scale and ambition are vast enough that Coppola has estimated that it will cost $120 million to make. What he dreams about, he said, is creating something like It's a Wonderful Life—a movie everyone goes to see, once a year, forever. 'On New Year's, instead of talking about the fact that you're going to give up carbohydrates, I'd like this one question to be discussed, which is: Is the society we live in the only one available to us? And discuss it.' Somehow, Megalopolis will provoke exactly this discussion, Coppola hopes. Annually ... And so this is Coppola's plan. He is going to take $120 million of his own fortune, at 82 years of age, and make the damn movie himself." (All right. This one time he'll let you ask him about his affairs.) GQ: Francis Ford Coppola's $100 Million Bet.


Extra, Extra

Cold as Ice: The Russian Olympic Committee succeeded in ruining Women's Figure Skating and Kamila Valieva. "As the suspicion and disapproval peaked Thursday, Valieva struggled for the first time in her brief senior career. She hit the ice twice in her free skate, falling technically short in most of her jumps, and her 141.93 score left the door open for Russian teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova, and Japanese skater Kaori Sakamoto, to pass her for spots on the podium." The Irreparable Harm of Kamila Valieva's Olympic Experience. And Mikaela Shiffrin crashed in a 3rd race. Ugh for her. "It's not always easy, but it's also not the end of the world to fail, fail twice. Fail 5 times. At the Olympics. (Enter me ...). Why do I keep coming back? Gosh knows it hurts more than it feels good lately. I come back because those first 9 turns today were spectacular, really heaven. That's where I'm meant to be and I'm stubborn as s**t." (This has the makings of a great comeback. Stay tuned.)

+ Wedding Tragedy: "Police said the victims - all women and children - were sitting on a metal slab covering the well when it collapsed under their weight." Absolutely brutal story from India. 13 dead after falling into well in Kushinagar.

+ Evi-dense: "The San Francisco district attorney's stunning claim that California crime labs are using DNA from sexual assault survivors to investigate unrelated crimes shocked prosecutors nationwide, and advocates said the practice could affect victims' willingness to come forward." An insane practice.

+ Scam Fam in a Jam: Former President Donald Trump, as well his children Ivanka and Donald, Jr,. must sit for depositions in the New York attorney general's civil investigation. (At least they can carpool.)

+ Syd Vicious: "Cassie is the girl even bad boys dream about. Olivia is the stuff of most parents' nightmares. It is very funny and a little odd to think of Sweeney, the 24-year-old responsible for both characters, as being either one." WaPo: Terrified of Gen Z? Sydney Sweeney and HBO can take some credit for that.


Bottom of the News

"I was about six and a half months pregnant when I went on Tinder, and I clearly stated that on my bio. I didn't want to lead anyone on, so I was being open and honest. I wanted them to know what they were getting into right off the bat." Australian Man Named ‘Man Of The Year' After Delivering Baby On Tinder Date.

+ "She admitted to using the identities and information of others, and DOJ said she drove a Maserati SUV to local banks to withdraw cash." Albany woman pleads guilty to $700K unemployment fraud.