When I graduated college, my dream job was to be the theater critic for the New York Times. My life has taken so many turns since then it seems hilarious to me now. Within a year of graduation, I was done with that dream, and applying to grad school. I quickly realized that my path to this career would be mostly taking unpaid internships, and relying on my parents’ money. Several of my fellow editors at my college newspaper chose this path. The other option was marketing work, pitching publications blindly, or writing on spec. Even then, many of those options didn’t pay.

I quickly realized that, in order to have the easiest path to enter the media world I grew up idolizing, I needed to expect not to make money working what was essentially a full time job.

I was majorly struck by a recent twitter thread by Alec Karakatsanis on the discrepancy between the mainstream media’s focal points vs what actually constitutes a threat to society. His main argument is that what mainstream journalism considers a threat reflects the interests of the rich, and what actually threatens most people, not large corporations, is buried:

It’s hard to think of something more important than understanding the information-spreading apparatus that creates this gap between perception and reality.

He asked a lot of good, provocative questions about why this is, without needing to provide an answer:

Are there professional economic incentives, racial and class biases, and jingoistic ideologies that shape *what harms* to *which people* count as important enough to be breaking news, or news at all?…

What role does corporate ownership and consolidation of media companies play in determining what is covered and how urgently it is covered?

Karakatsanis is approaching the issue from a top down level. My experience, which goes hand in hand with this, is bottom up. Is the barrier for entry to journalism so cost-prohibitive that only the children of the rich and the ruling class can afford to enter it?

The publications themselves, despite what they often preach in their editorial content, aren’t practicing it. Ever since Vice‘s bombshell expose on the unpaid internship structure of the left wing media, these publications have implemented half-measure after half-measure that ignore the main issue: for a job like this, people need to be paid, and paid comfortably.

As my colleague at LexBlog Alec Downing noted, journalism is a  brutal enough job on its own. There’s a ton of burnout, and people from marginalized and underrepresented groups are often the first to leave when things get tough. Publications’ declining ability to pay the people doing the worst entry level work leads to it essentially being a futile enterprise. The only way to really survive, or, heaven forbid, eventually thrive, is to have money from your parents. With the corporate consolidation of mainstream media in recent decades, this isn’t simply a crying shame. This is by design.

Welp, Aaron Rodgers certainly made it easier for me to stop caring about sports.

There’s no comedian, musician, actor, or artist who could have disappointed me more than Aaron Rodgers disappointed me this week. And what he did isn’t close to the worst thing any of my former heroes have done. He’s not an open Trump supporter like Mariano Rivera, Paul O’Neill, or Brett Favre, hasn’t engaged in generally idiotic criminal behavior like Johnny Jolly, Sean Avery, or Brett Favre, and has never been accused of abusive or predatory behavior or violence like David Cone, Robin Van Persie, or Brett Favre. For Christ’s sake, I’m willing to do the mental gymnastics to continue to root for the New York Knicks despite everything that’s happened for the last 20 years, and the fact that their recent resurgence is in no small part fueled by Derrick Rose.

There’s a sense of betrayal with Aaron Rodgers, though, because, for the past decade-plus, I’ve convinced myself that he is not only one of the greatest athletes to ever play for a team I root for, but that he, himself, was a fun dude to root for.

Every year he’d have some kind of quip that became a team rallying point (“R-E-L-A-X”, “Run the Table“, and even earlier this year, “I fucking own you“). He hates his conservative family, went to Berkeley, is an atheist who mocked a rival quarterback’s evangelism, and was outspoken about Colin Kaepernick. He was always noted for having an overwhelming ego, which clashed with management and coaches, but when it’s a feud between Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy, you’re always going to side with Aaron Rodgers.

All the signs that could be interpreted as awesome attributes of a closet leftist who has to keep his politics in check playing for a team owned by fans who have consistently voted Republican for decades. But they could just as easily point to a Joe Rogan acolyte. Turns out, it’s the latter. If he’s a Bernie supporter, he’s the kind of Bernie supporter that, as a friend of mine put it, comes from Lydon LaRouche.

I didn’t know about Shailiene Woodley’s homeopathic anti-science stuff. I didn’t know anything about Rodgers’ relationship with Miles Telfer, or Miles Telfer’s deal at all. Maybe I didn’t want to know. Maybe I would have chosen to believe something else until reality forced my hand.

My ability to justify watching the NFL in spite of all morality to the contrary was already hanging by a thread. Now…what’s the best-case scenario? My favorite team wins the Super Bowl, with this idiot getting validation? The Jets, my other favorite team, come back from the dead? Jordan Love becomes an NFL legend, then turns out to be an asshole 15 years from now?

I need a sabbatical at the very least, but this feels like a straw that broke the camel’s back. All my Packers jerseys are going to Goodwill. I’m donating to the Concussion Legacy Foundation every remaining month of this football season.

I can stomach a lot of moral shades of gray when it comes to sports. But this story feels like a loved one dying.

The  last 24 hours must have been fun day to be a headline writer for major newspapers in America. Just look at these juicy headlines:


The New York Times:

The Boston Globe:

The Washington Post:

Look at that image placement! I have a hard time imagining a design editor of the Washington Post not audibly laughing when deciding exactly where to crop Marc Zuckerberg’s chin.

It’s only natural that the tone of the coverage from national newspapers, whose influence has been decimated by social media in the past 15 years, would implicitly, and in some cases not-so-implicitly (that chin!), turn to snarkiness. Snarkiness is the route the powerless tend to take when their influence is small and their voice has been marginalized. As NYMag’s Adam Sternbergh put it in 2008, when we first started the debate over online snarkiness:

Snark, irony’s brat, flourishes in an age of doublespeak and idiocy that’s too rarely called out elsewhere. Snark is not a honk of blasé detachment; it’s a clarion call of frustrated outrage.

The major newspapers listed above, which honored that doublespeak and idiocy for far too long, were some of the subject of snarkiness.

The difference is that these major newspapers aren’t powerless here, or blameless. For decades, their coverage has transformed into a desperate attempt to play towards being “factual” and “fair”, despite the fact that one side has completely abandoned the factual and fair. There are now over 15 cycles of college graduates who are intelligent enough to see that, for instance, normalizing Nazi sympathizers, being owned by the tycoons you’re supposed to be covering critically, giving credence to human rights abuses, and exploiting your own labor in the process, aren’t exactly good faith behaviors.

I’m old enough to remember how news coverage was handled right before social media emerged. I was an editor of my college newspaper from 2006-2007, just as social media’s influence was skyrocketing. I didn’t know at the time just how awful a dirge on society social media would become. But I had a front row view of where mainstream media coverage was failing, and where social media and new media was able to fill the gaps (remember the coverage cycle of the John Edwards scandal? I sure do).

So yes, the past 48 hours are a huge loss for Facebook in particular and social media in general. But let’s not pretend there are any winners here.

Without Canada, I wouldn’t be alive. Nor would my father, my brother, my sister, or nine of my cousins. When my grandmother fled Poland in my 30s, and later married my grandfather, a survivor of the Gulag, they built a prosperous life in Montreal. They found opportunities for themselves and their children in North America in the 1950s and 1960s that starkly contrasted Europe they fled in the 1930s and 1940s, which was designed for them to cease to exist.

I’m not sure if my grandparents ever considered the fact that the land that not only saved their lives, but allowed them to thrive, came with a country that was built on the same unnecessary and appalling loss of life that they managed to avoid themselves.

Today is National Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada, for the first time an official national holiday. I know I have to be better, which is why I’ve ordered Out of the Depths, Isabelle Knockwood’s book on the subject. One passage hit me from the excerpt, made available online, pretty intensely:

I testified before the TRC to bring awareness to the fact that the testimony given to the TRC by the survivors of the Indian residential schools in Canada was not a sworn oath. The risk is that historians will find ways to discredit the oral evidence and, like the holocaust of the Jews by Hitler’s regime, will be able to say that the “residential schools did not happen….

As children, the residential school students were warrior children — we stood on the front line alone, unprotected and unarmed trying to defend our culture, identity and heritage. As adults we brought a lawsuit against the two most powerful organizations in the world, the federal government and the churches. We empowered ourselves when we broke the code of silence of abuse.

This is the kind of language of breaking through silence was what I was raised with in Hebrew School for 8 years. When it came to other persecuted groups, groups that were marginalized, and often slaughtered the foundations of the land that had helped us survive, the religious schools I was raised in tended to turn silent.

Here is another excellent resource from historian Daniel N. Paul. This kind of quote provides a more blatant example of the kind of thinking common among 20th Century white Canadians, by civil servant and poet Duncan Campbell Scott:

I want to get rid of the Indian problem. I do not think as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are able to stand alone… Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill.”

Most of all resources, I’ve looked up is this absolutely heartbreaking song by Buffy MacNeill, of Mi’kmaq descent, which was released to raise funds for a Paq’tnkek Mi’kmaw Youth Center.

If you have some funds to give, I’d highly recommend donating.

One persistent theme I see on social media from people of my age range is the idea that the world won’t exist in the next 10-20 years. This is actually a standard trope of left-wing thinking and joke material. The logic seems to be that the environment has gotten so bad, political strife has gotten so turbulent, and white supremacy is so rampant, that there’s simply no way society as we know it will exist by 2050 or so.

To some extent, they are right. Society will not exist the same way in 2050 as it will in 2021. The same way society in 2021 does not exist the same way it did in 1981, the same way society in 1981 did not exist the same way as 1951, or 1951 to 1921.

The environment is seen as the bleakest threat, and let’s not sugar coat it, it’s bleak. Mass population clusters and major cities will cease to exist. The economy as we know it is not equipped to handle this level of economic disaster. Los Angeles is likely to see thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands displaced due to an earthquake within the next 20-30 years. New Orleans could be completely underwater within the next 50 years.

As bleak as the environment and political strife is, no scientists are, at the moment, arguing that human beings will be extinct within the next 50 years. Even today, as the UN warned of catastrophic climate change by the end of the century, extinction was not discussed as a possibility. We absolutely need immediate and mass action on global warming, which we likely will not get. Even if the U.S. was to change its policies drastically, China will be an even bigger problem. But even the worst case scenario will not be the end of humanity.

Apocalyptic thinking is not new to my generation. The prospect of nuclear apocalypse, which is still a non-zero possibility, led people to believe that extinction was inevitable in the 50s and 60s. In the previous generations, fascism and Nazism were so prevalent that it was assumed the tides were already turned, and that it was too late. We have mounds of art, journalism, and academic research that argued as such. If you think if the mass deaths associated with a major city being destroyed are the end of humanity, consider Konigsburg, Dresden, and Tokyo. They were devastating losses of life and the cities were completely demolished. But humanity continued.

What I hate about doomsday thinking is that it leads to apathy, self-destructive behavior, and mental health issues. People are legitimately arguing that people under the age of 40 shouldn’t save for retirement, because humanity is doomed. Combine that with the prospect of slashing social security, this could lead to a nightmare scenario caused by our own nihilism.

Doomsday thinking also is linked to conspiracy theory thinking, which can actually enable the white supremacist forces that many on the left are actively trying to curb. It can also lead those who are legitimately suffering from mental health issues to feel validated, as opposed to seeking care.

I encourage you to build an emergency preparedness bag with as many supplies as you think are necessary. I encourage you to fight for politicians to enact policies for radically curbing climate change, and make changes to your own life to both prepare for and help prevent a truly horrific series of events. We are already seeing the devastating effects of the choices of our species. It will only get more extreme in the coming years. But defaulting into “humanity is doomed” thinking is short-sighted, harmful to the very causes we worry about, and, scientifically, just plain wrong.

I’ve struggled for years to answer this question. If you look at my views on paper, they probably align with the values and principles of socialism. But I’ve never been comfortable labeling myself as that.

I generally tend to think political -isms are a major source of divisiveness, partisan hackery, propaganda, and other political nonsense. When I phone banked for the Elizabeth Warren campaign, I can’t tell you the number of callers who yelled obscenities at me, calling her a socialist, a communist, a baby killer, and anti-American.

There are two competing schools of thought here. One, which is generally the thought centrists and the status quo in the Democratic Party, is that the term socialist is too loaded, divisive, and blocks legitimate efforts to enact the causes that people who call themselves socialists want to enact. On one level, I hate this, think it falls into the category of “you’re hurting your own cause” and the implicit racism and classism that mainstream Democrats espouse. I think it is often an excuse for liberal Democrats who give lip service to the working class to freely sacrifice their principles for their own personal advancement.

On the other hand, after working on mainstream presidential and senate campaigns, and seeing just how frustrating noncommittal a large swath of the country would be to causes advance by the left if they fall under the “socialist” label, I understand the merits to that argument.

The other school of thought is, in order to more forcefully advance leftist causes (there’s that -ism again), we need to destigmatize the term “socialist”, refuse to deny that label, and openly advocate for causes espoused by socialists. This is a longer term goal, and I get the lack of need to hide behind what you actually are under the guise of unity and pragmatism. The forces of white supremacy are circling the drain of America so fast that there needs to be a forceful opposition. At the same time, fighting against those forces requires immediate attention and practical sacrifices. Frankly, I don’t think there’s time in America left to worry about the long term gain by de-stigmatizing that label.

I also hate the idea of state-controlled morality, where every living person’s ethical values must be uniquely aligned, or the entire system falls apart. In addition to not finding that practical, I think it’s morally abhorrent, and I will never trust power structure in charge of morality. This means I can never be a communist. The fact that communists were directly involved in slaughtering half of my ancestors certainly doesn’t help.

My primary values are simple: I believe every human being has a right to be fed, sheltered, clothed, and safe. I think we, as a society, should aim to create a system of government that values these principles over adding more billionaires to the world. I believe the police are a tool of white supremacy, and we must work as a society to replace police forces altogether with organizations more focused on care. I feel workers have the right to unionize to advocate for themselves, and I believe employers should be punished for wage theft and abuse more than employees.

On paper, these values probably align me with the principles of contemporary  American socialism. So if you want to call me a socialist, that’s fine. I feel I can define my political identity however I’d like.

I guess I don’t call myself a socialist because I don’t feel the need to call myself a socialist. I don’t feel that the principles I believe in need that label. On a fundamental level I don’t really consider my beliefs “socialism.” I consider them empathy.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to stop the cycle of doomscrolling on social media. I spent less than five minutes on Facebook today, and hoo boy, do I not regret this decision.

The news about Texas’s abortion law is devastating. To women, to people of color, to medical professionals, and to anyone who cares about basic human rights. Yet instead of coming up with solutions, those addicted to social media are fighting the exact same fight I’ve seen played out all my life: should we be madder at the Democrats for their inability to boldly stand up to the extremist forces behind the Republican party, or should we be mad at those progressives who sacrificed pragmatism for principles and didn’t vote for the centrist Democratic candidate for President.

First, the answer is quite simple. We should be mad at both. How we prioritize who to be mad at is a moot point. Both situations are frustrating. Mature adults can compartmentalize that both are a problem.

The bigger problem, though is what are we going to do now.

Are we going to do everything we can to primary in leftist Democrats who have the conviction to fight Republican extremists with the same fury they fight the left? Are we calling our representatives? Are we talking to our moderate relatives who can be pushed to the left? Are we giving whatever money we can to Planned Parenthood? Are we putting our bodies on the line? If you’re fighting on Facebook before doing any of this, might I recommend adjusting your priorities.

All those actions are more valuable uses of time and resources than fighting on Facebook. I understand that it feels overwhelming to fight the right wing, and that we’re powerless to stop it. This makes Facebook an easy place to vent. But fighting on social media is such a waste of time and energy and we all know it. It’s time to realize we’re not powerless. We just have to do the work.