Reading List: Generosity-As-A-Service* and The Fight For Our Attention
Good morning, my doves! It’s Friday, it’s 2019, I’m in your inbox, and I have a few #longreads for you to consume this weekend. For the fact that you’ll have me each and every(ish) weekday morning, I am grateful. Thank you.
Let’s get to that there internet writing, y’all!
Franklin Foer, ‘Attention Is the Beginning of Devotion’ (The Atlantic) - Over the past two weeks, I’ve had many similar discussions lamenting an inability to focus, while also finding oneself spending precious time on mindless social media, with nothing to show for it but a headache and creeping regret. Through the lens of Mary Oliver’s poetry, Foer examines “the costs of allowing our attention to be commandeered.” And a phrase he focuses on is powerful (“Attention is the beginning of devotion,”) because it sure as heck made me think about to what I’m therefore devoted to in 2019.
Nick Bilton, “Either You F--K Me, Or I’ll F--K You”: How Zuckerberg’s Billionaires Club Can Atone For Facebook (Vanity Fair) - Bilton takes a long and hard look at the “very rich enemies” Facebook hath created who are now taking their very own very long and hard look at the company’s societal impact. Bilton’s sources include former executive, but also former employees who describe suffering from panic attacks, despite the fact they “would once have taken a bullet for the company.” In the end, Bilton calls for these company alumni to testify in front of congress to tell “the country why the company they helped build should be reformed.”
Emily VanDerWerff, The Catastrophist, or: On coming out as trans at 37 (Vox) - This is a timely and haunting meditation on womanhood and identity in our 2019 dystopia. I’ve always loved VanDerWerff’s writing, but this piece is truly powerful.
Mandy Stadtmiller, How I Stopped Sitting Around All Day Seething With Jealousy of My Peers (Human Parts) - In addition to being a great and hilarious writer, Mandy Stadtmiller is one of the most generous people with her connections and social platform, promoting the work of former colleagues and friends to her 76,000 followers on Twitter. The importance of giving your praise and professional support is a common theme of her excellent career writing, including how envy can stand in the way of personal and professional growth, and how we have to recapture the unironic enthusiasm for our work and for others in order to thrive. This phrase hits me right in the feels, because I so clearly see my young professional choices in its sentiment: “The brash, pure, unwarranted confidence of my youth… I subconsciously set aside, slowly suffocating and eventually mercy-killing because I wanted to do things “right.””
Gabriel Sherman, “Marla Was Under Duress”: Revealed In His Marla Maples Prenup, Donald Trump’s Draconian Art Of The Marriage Deal (Vanity Fair) - I know that, if you’re a regular reader of this here Missive, you need no further reminder that our Cheeto-in-Chief isn’t what we’d call a “good” “person,” but in case you hit your head last night and forgot the past few years, here’s your reminder.
Y’all are wonderful. Go forth, be generously enthusiastic and kind to each other, ok?
(*And yes, I realize that Generosity-As-A-Service is technically GAAS but I stand by it, come at me.)