The Fortnight in Tabs: Porcine Epidemic Logorrhea

Facebook now sends a notification to users when it believes a government entity has targeted or compromised their account. Thomas Hodel/Reuters

Yes, Tabs are still vacation, but that doesn't seem to have made any difference to my bookmarks folder, which is getting uncomfortably full. And, characteristically the very moment I went away for the summer, Tabs was mentioned in David Carr's NYT column and I was profiled by Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke in the NY Observer, so I have been itching for a shot at driving away some of those new subscribers. And so, here we are.

FaceF***ed: The biggest Tab of the past fortnight has to have been the collision of bad social media, bad science, and bad journalism that was the Facebook Emotional Contagion Study. That reserved and even-handed New Scientist writeup was quickly superseded, as The Awl's John Herrman pointed out, by a more social-media-friendly AVClub piece that moved the narrative away from what Facebook users posted and toward claims about how they actually felt. And with that, we were off the the races. Critics called the study unethical and unsettling. We went back and forth for days on whether the research was supervised by an ethics committee, or sponsored by the US government, and I stopped caring before anyone answered either question clearly, but Rob Meyer seems to have scribbled out everything that The Atlantic thinks isn't true. Facebook apologized, of course, because apologizing is how Facebook always evades responsibility for the things it moved fast and broke. Spiraling speculation began to attribute all kinds of eldritch powers to the Mighty News Feed. Can it decide who we vote for? (No.) Can it determine what we read? (Yes, probably.)

But at long last, Mills Baker pointed out that it was all complete nonsense: "what in the world makes Facebook think that "future postings" of users "over the course of a week" can tell it anything about how people feel and why?" Jessie Singal drew attention to another key fact on NYMag's science blog: "Facebook is always manipulating you — every time you log in." Sure, like Liz Lopatto we should all just quit Facebook, but since we would literally rather electrocute ourselves than be alone with our terrible thoughts I don't see that happening. So we will continue using Facebook, which will continue manipulating what we see but only for ethical, righteous reasons like making us buy crap.

Our Terrible World: We might be rapidly transitioning from our pre-global-warming dystopia to a post-global-warming dystopia, but that just means it's a great time to be a jellyfish. "The bodies are piling up fast," goes the NYT lede, but it's not a story about the vials of smallpox we just discovered sitting in a storage closet in an FDA lab ("Oops! LOL!" –U.S. Health Authorities). Not yet anyway. No, these are pig bodies, killed by porcine epidemic diarrhea at a rate of "more than 100,000 piglets and young hogs each week since it first showed up in Iowa in May 2013" if that can possibly be true. Given the recent behavior of our Maine pigs perhaps this is for the best. Remember, a "domesticated" pig is just a wild pig inside an electric fence. But ours is a terrible world full of terribly blunt allegories, like these two Alaskans who got stuck in the mud trying to photograph an eagle, or these millions of dying stars. It's a world where Martha Stewart is assembling a drone air force, and a Virginia man can apparently claim 800 square miles of Africa because his daughter "asked whether she could be a real princess. We've finally invented T H E   V O I D, and apparently the gay penguins broke up, which hit me harder than the news about Will Arnett and Amy Poehler tbh, so if you all just decided to roll coal and hasten the inevitable end, I would be the last one to blame you.

Turn Down for Nope: Did you think that with Tabs on vacation, maybe all the terrible people and events went away? I'm afraid not. Bots got chattier. Warren G. Harding got sexy. Economics was explained via both Lil John and Transformers 4. There was the potato salad Kickstarter but I cannot even. Tweetstorming was recapped, analyzed, and productized. The Great New York Literary Subtweet War was waged and lost by all involved (including me). We invented Furbabies and enhanced pointless elitism. Tyra Banks looked into her own idiosyncratic and completely crazy future, and Taylor Swift looked into her privilege but mistook it for the future.

Award-winning magazine writer Tom Junod, whose many prestigious magazine-writing awards smell of sandalwood and rich Corinthian leather, came right out and said that certain 42 year old women might be welcome in his bed if they worked hard enough for it. This did not go over very well with, um, anyone really.

The New York Tabs has certainly not gone on vacation. Ok Maureen Dowd was apparently replaced by @MaureenDowd_ebooks, and David Brooks is whinier than usual but the Style section is keeping up its lofty standards.

Before you reach for your icepick and a map of the brain's "off switch", let me assure you it's not all tabs. The New Inquiry published a whole Lana Del Rey supplement, for example! And Pitchfork's Lindsay Zoladz was very nearly compelled to admit she had been wrong about LDR the first time [via upcoming/buzz humans]. Choire started a fashion advice startup which might not be a joke? Elizabeth Spiers's Shanley profile came out, and it's good.

Today's Toy: NYC Taxis: A Day in the Life

Today's Song: Haim (feat A$AP Ferg), "My Song 5"

~I'm churning out tabs like beat poetry on amphetamines~

Today in Tabs is still on hiatus, but you can subscribe by email or review the archives on Newsweek. I hope this reassures those of you who were afraid it wasn't coming back at all. If you haven't had enough of me yet, I also did a panel on #lifehacks for Adult Magazine. Spoiler: I don't believe in #lifehacks.


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