Long and short reads for your next weekend review. May 2014 edition.
Social Web Demographics Shift, and Bells Toll [Prematurely?] for Email, Facebook, and Twitter
Buzzfeed: What I Learned After Quitting Email For A Week (Charlie Warzel) < A whole week!
Deadspin: Facebook Is Dead (Drew Magary)
The Atlantic: A Eulogy for Twitter (Adrienne LaFrance, Robinson Meyer)
Core quotes: “Email doesn’t need to change, we do.” “Facebook is not about meeting new people, which is what the rest of the Internet is all about. [Facebook] helps you find old somebodies and then, after the rush of nostalgia is gone, it helps you use those people for something. And that is why it’s useless.”
The Twitter “eulogy” cites the temporary email quitter, and all three eulogies are premature. I see in these rants more “we now feel out of place on these platforms” than “these platforms are doomed because of design or market collapse.”
The question to ask now is whether platform stockholders will be shaken by these prophecies; their confidence is what usually determines whether platforms rise or fall. Facebook is the best example of a major moneymaker that does not privilege user comfort or preference and may never do so unless those users become a significant funding source themselves. Until such time, the audience to which Facebook yields is the advertiser.
Variances in Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Mother Jones: This Is How Racist Your Air Is: If you’re white, you’re probably breathing cleaner air. (Julia Lurie)
How ethnic minorities and poorer people are hyper-exposed to pollutants and under-served in court actions against polluters is not news to US-based environmental justice advocates. The Mother Jones article is based on a university study that correlated census data with rates of exposure to nitrogen dioxide, a product of combustion and energy manufacturing. Since “more than 5 million people of color live within 150 meters of a major US highway,” these results shouldn’t be surprising. The last town I lived in was halfway through a 5-year highway development project that cut through town. I noticed how pedestrian access and sound barriers were finished in richer and Whiter parts of the city long before they were started in the Black and Hispanic segment. As far as I know there are still no sound barriers up the street from where I used to live.
These disparities are part of the rarely acknowledged toll of poverty, which passes down from generation to generation. Last month, Al Jazeera reported on a different study that found genetic aging effects in children raised in poor households:
The scientists were surprised to find associations between the shortening of the boys’ telomeres and low family income, low levels of maternal education, family instability and a harsh parenting style, compared with boys who came from higher-income and more stable and nurturing backgrounds. In addition, disadvantaged boys who had a genetic sensitivity to dopamine and serotonin — neurotransmitters connected with happiness and feeling pleasure — experienced accelerated shortening of their telomeres, pushing them farther down the road toward stress and sickness.
Poverty and racialized urban and industrial development patterns raise complex questions, but these are the questions we need to consider. Bootstrapping opportunities one-by-one is not enough.
When the Body Alienates its Own
- Amy D. Martin: Losing Church: My slow journey to the margins
- Camels with Hammers [Patheos]: “You Must Have Mistakenly Left The Perfect Christ Because The Fallible Church Hurt You” (Daniel Fincke)
I’m not going to editorialize these stories—but if you care about the sustainability of your local congregation or international fellowship, they’re just the start of the stories you’ll benefit from listening to.
The First Female General Vice-President Offers Adventism a Path Out of Alienation
Adventist Review: Last Word: ‘Strength to Love’ (Ella Simmons)
Dr. Simmons prepared these remarks to close the General Conference’s closed-to-most summit on gender and sexuality in March this year. Her time to speak to attendees was abridged and so she was unable to deliver them in full. Appreciation to the editors of the church paper for releasing these remarks. Since they vary in some ways from what some attendees reported her to have said, it’s not clear what was pre-written and what was extemporaneous.
How will we affirm the rights of those with whom we disagree while maintaining our religious, theological, and spiritual identity?
Some among us believe that it is impossible to do this as respects our differing understandings of homosexuality and alternative sexualities. But the Scripture that shaped this community of faith teaches us to corporately and individually seek God when we meet these challenges. When faced with a leadership responsibility that seemed to him an impossibility, Solomon asked God for discernment and wisdom, and it was granted. James reminds us that if we ask for wisdom, God will surely give it to us (James 1:5).
Although it is not—and will not be—easy, we need not falter.