Something For The Weekend: A Cultural Roundup From Our US Editor

November 2019Words by Mr Chris Wallace

Illustration by Mr Joe McKendry

Hiya from New York… are you there? I’m feeling a little sensitive this week and not just because a friend of mine recently shared this story on the catastrophic epidemic of loneliness we are all confronting. In response, I immediately wanted to post something puckish (both because the internet has broken our brains that way, but because I’m a solitude-content only child) in counterpoint that, in fact, some of us just want to be left alone to be lonely in peace. Eek. Which reminds me of this piece that the great Ms Laura Lippman wrote on the art of losing friends and alienating people, though frankly I’ll take the anti-social Pepsi challenge with her any day. (Speaking of which, Chipotle is giving its staff mental health care, and thank God, because the people who work there are basically my therapists anyway.)

Ms Lippman at least believes in some benefit of social media to keep her company; for me there is this handy guide to avoiding fake friends and enemies online. I have friends who get a lot of pleasure – I call it hate-joy – from following some people they absolutely abhor (they’d probably like this account outing fake “ballers” on Instagram). The New York Times also has an interesting piece about “parasocial relationships,” and internet fandom, which they illustrate with a superfan of the podcast Failing Upwards from Messrs Lawrence Schlossman and James Harris.

Meanwhile, I’m fascinated with the premise of the new video game Death Stranding, and the mission statement of its creator, to make the world more empathetic and connected. Lol. It turns out that nothing we’ve been told about the internet and algorithms is at all true. Online advertising, for example, doesn’t work, like, at all. Whatever, I’m plotting an Armageddon-style heist of this meteor that is more valuable than all the wealth now on Earth. But just so I can give it all to Sir David Attenborough, obviously. Or perhaps, funding these incredible community gardens in Ms Lippman’s hometown of Baltimore, which are in the “vanguard of a national black vegan movement.” Homegrown food in the South could really use the help. Gulf oysters are in real trouble. But, I don’t want to make this edition of the newsletter so downbeat, therefore we should focus on the glorious Murder Point oysters from Alabama, which I’ve been eating a bunch of recently, and seem to be doing… OK.