Category Archives: Online culture

December’s Top 10 Podcast Episodes

It’s the end of 2015, and I’ve got one more list of podcast episodes for you. If you find these posts useful or interesting, let me know!

Here’s the list:

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# Views, % Integrity

2015_10_PeopleReached

The “# impressions” or “# views” meters next to tweets or Facebook posts can be a little intoxicating. It’s easy to get caught up in chasing that value, making it rise. It’s always right there, if you manage a Facebook page or use tools like Hootsuite. As if it’s all that matters in our digital world based on eyeball glances.

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Modern Romance: The Missing Polyamory

This is my second post on Aziz Ansari’s new book, Modern Romance. Check out my previous one on dating profile images.

I finished the book recently, and I enjoyed the experience of reading it. Ansari mixes surprising jokes with a fascinating investigation into the changing behaviors and technology of dating and relationships. It does only dive as deeply as you’d expect a book by a comedian would do, though. Erring on the side of “fun and light” was probably a wise choice.

In the second half of the book, Ansari starts building a case for the dilemma of modern romance: in the age of emerging adulthood, young people have a choice to either enjoy the single life and the highs of romantic love in dating, or to appreciate the slow build of companionate love that comes from settling down into a long-term relationship. He focuses significantly on the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) when marrying one person.

In one of the final chapters, Ansari begins a small discussion on open relationships, which could be one solution to this dilemma. Unfortunately, the scope of the section was small, and the attitude towards it not nearly as welcoming as other developments in modern romance. I found it pretty disappointing.

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“Well At Least They Allow Comments”

For a while now I’ve found the trite complaint of a closed YouTube comment section to be vapid. (Equally so the stale honor or praise of leaving it open.) But just today I took another step in my understanding of the issue.

When a comment section is closed, to a YouTube user, it feels like their only method of communication (or complaining, harassing, etc.) with the YouTuber has gone. That’s in part why it’s perceived as valuable. It’s the habitat they’re used to; it’s what they see as the clearest, most direct form of feedback.

And to a certain extent it certainly is. My Pavlovian response to a YouTube video ending is to scroll down. This is something I fight, because in the vast majority of comment sections, there is nothing of value below. It’s still the most immediate place to see responses, though.

YouTube comments for a long time have been treated as this “standard discussion forum” across the Internet, available around most videos online, when in fact its evidentiary purpose is for hurling shit and making jokes so lazy they’d make Reddit cringe. The comment box is ubiquitous on the Internet Locus For Viewing Moving Pictures, so it makes sense that it became the collective dumping ground. To see a space carved out to not be made messy (by closing comments) seems counter to the entirety of YouTube culture. PewDiePie crossed that line and quickly went back.

This YouTube culture is the same one that would bring the phrase “free speech” into the equation, even though YouTube is a company that can do whatever it wants with your comments, and comments are on another person’s channel who has full right to delete them or ban people for any reason. Comment spaces are only as free as its owner allows them to be, and they don’t Hate Freedom if they choose to curate more closely or close them altogether.

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Modern Romance: The High-Angle Selfie

I’ve been reading Aziz Ansari’s book, Modern Romance, which I heard about from his interview on the Freakonomics podcast. It intrigued me that a comedian would write a book that is not just full of jokes and humor but also solid independent research and references to other literature on the subject. There are graphs, charts, and footnotes to studies noting the changing landscape of the dating world, between all-caps complaints about “Tanya” not texting Ansari back after an important message.

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