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Every Thought Is Now for Sale

Back in 2011, when Twitter was young, the artist and musician Leon Chang made a joke that you might remember even if you didn’t see it: “slept over at a kids house once in third grade. saw him pour milk into bowl first, then cereal. never talked to him again. hes in jail now.” Over the years, that joke has been stolen again and again, often retold with...

Facebook Won’t Talk About the Insurrection

Facebook has responded to last month’s much-hyped decision regarding the platform’s removal of Donald Trump. The former president will not be allowed to return, the company said, until January 7, 2023—two years from the date of his original suspension. This is arguably a very long time, as well as arguably no time at all. It feels more like the latter...

The App That Monetized Doing Nothing

Photographs by Sarah EllyAcathedral-like mountain towers above me; a lake laps at my feet; sunshine distilled through pine needles warms my skin. Close your eyes, a voice intones. Let your shoulders fall naturally and keep your chest open. Take a few full, deep breaths to settle into this moment, inhaling deeply and slowly releasing your breath, allowing...

Putting Microchips in Vaccines Is a Terrible Idea, When You Think About It

I got my first COVID-19 vaccine recently. The whole experience was tremendously routine: I showed my registration, stood in a waiting area, saw a nurse, got the jab, waited 15 minutes in case of an adverse reaction, and left.Oh, and I got a button.The waiting period, of course, was when it happened.James, said the pestilential voice inside my head,...

Screenshots Are the Gremlins of the Internet

In early 2017, a terrifying rumor began to drift around the internet. An iPhone software update was coming, and the anarchists at Apple had decided to add a new feature: Starting soon, your device would register every screenshot that you grabbed of a text conversation, and notify the other participants. Apple users imagined total mayhem, or the necessity...

America Offline

My most intimate relationship of 2020 was with the internet. I did my job online, and talked to my friends online, and streamed hundreds of hours of TV that I’d already seen online, just to fill my empty apartment with human sounds. I used the internet to put scary Instagram filters on my face, and join a mutual-aid Slack group, and reflexively refresh...

Stop Worrying and Love the F-150 Lightning

1. Start with the price—how could you not? The Ford F-150 Lightning, the new electric version of the ur–American pickup truck, will go on sale next spring for $39,974. Because Ford vehicles still qualify for the federal EV tax credit, most Americans will pay a little less than $32,500 for this truck.Thirty-two grand after subsidies—an astonishing price....

The Colonial Pipeline Attack Is a Dark Omen

In North Carolina, where I live, only about one-third of gas stations are currently reporting that they have any gas, and that’s after some improvement in availability. A ransomware attack shut down a key pipeline supplying these stations, an event that could, but likely won’t, serve as a wake-up call, before we experience a true catastrophe.Prior to...

No One Actually Knows If You’re Vaccinated

If you have been fortunate enough to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, you also possess an essential, high-tech tool for proving your immunity to others.Just kidding, it’s a piece of cardstock. On the flimsy rectangle that all Americans get with their shots, doctors and pharmacists record dates of administration, vaccine type, and lot number. Some scrawl...

The Blue Check Mark’s Evil Cousin

To block someone on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is not, in the scheme of things, a big deal. You’ll no longer see them on the platform, they’ll no longer see you, and then you’ll both go on social networking, largely as you did before. Since your feed is made up of discrete posts personalized for you by an algorithm, blocking one person’s in particular...

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