Late Night Open Thread: Social Media Is A Bad Place for the Clueless

Since I use this blogging platform largely to share online links and embed twitter posts, I can hardly condemn social media as a concept. But as the saying goes: Nothing can be made foolproof, because the fools are so ingenious.

Although I suppose it’s some kind of progress when, if a tween girl must be pimped out to support her family, it’s done through virtual reality. Allow me a ‘kids these days’ moment over a world where Buzzfeed and Netflix collaborate on a documentary series “Inside The World Of Teenagers With Millions Of Followers”

Being an adolescent is inherently awful, but the best thing about it may be the complete lack of shame teenagers feel for the things they love. The breadth and depth of their fandom — say, for some online influencer with millions of underage fans — might be perplexing for those of us older than 18, but it makes perfect sense for teens who love whatever they love with their whole being…

Danielle Cohn is one of those teenage curiosities that most of us old enough to vote (have you registered yet?) don’t know much about despite her alarmingly potent online popularity. At the wee age of 14, she already has a startling 2.6 million Instagram followers and 11.2 million on an app called TikTok. (You might know TikTok better as Musical.ly, the app where the youth lip-synched and bopped around in front of their phones in 15-second video clips. It changed its name to TikTok in early August.) Cohn’s videos don’t exactly sound worthy of millions upon millions of followers: They’re largely just her, in full hair and makeup, lip-synching in front of her camera phone and a bright ring light, shaking her hips and smiling wide. And yet.

Cohn looms large online, but in person, she is teeny tiny. Her Instagram is, like a lot of young girls, seemingly curated to make her appear older, but in person she just looks like a pubescent girl with a remarkable amount of hair extensions. When I met her earlier this year, she was living in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles with her mom, her brother, and a gray puppy named Silverpom who was suffering from an eye infection. She and her family are from Florida, but moved to LA so Cohn’s career as an influencer could really take off, and eventually be parlayed into a Hollywood career, as attempted by so many internet celebrities before her.

Cohn’s burden is twofold: Not only does she have a hungry and demanding fanbase to appease, but she’s a significant part of her family’s financial backbone. There’s online popularity to maintain, but also new clothes to buy, agents to compensate, and of course, the family rent to pay through her live events and sponsored posts…

Ultimately, there’s nothing explicitly sexual about Cohn’s act online, nor is there when she shows me how she makes one of her videos in person. She mostly mugs for the camera and flips her hair and points and cocks a hip and acts out sassiness. It’s a reminder that our anxiety about a girl like Cohn being sexualized comes only because we, as adults, are sexualizing a child. I believe her when she says her work is chaste…

And now I am, in my own small way, part of the problem (am I wrong to assume kids like Cohn attract as many older male followers as they do other young girls — or that the platforms monetizing them don’t really care?) Excuse me while I go find a new onion for my belt…



Interesting Sunday Read: Something About Bob (Woodward)


 
Olivia Nuzzi, professional journalist-assassin, sizes up Bob Woodward, professional journalist-legbreaker, in NYMag“Bob Woodward on the ‘Best Obtainable Version of the Truth’ About Trump”.

IMO, she did a really good job of getting past the old man’s practiced patter and demonstrating just how cozy the Beltway Media Village expected to be with this season’s Temporary Oval Office Occupants, whether or not that warmth is reciprocated — or deserved:

Entering the author’s home required walking past a stack of the books on the floor. It’s a warm and colorful place, full of eye-catching paintings and, at this particular moment, lots of people and one medium-size dog. Woodward introduced me to his wife, the journalist Elsa Walsh, and then ushered me into a dining room. Over the course of 50 minutes, we discussed his philosophy and methods. But first, my tape recorder malfunctioned in front of America’s most famous journalist…

Nuzzi: I am but a humble newbie, visiting the Great Master…

I wanted to talk to you about how you decide who is credible. It is difficult for me, sometimes, to determine who is credible, even at the most senior levels of the administration at this White House. Mostly at the most senior levels in some ways.
Particularly if it is on the record and public. It is kind of a press release.

I agree to a large extent. But I am curious how you decide who is credible. Because somebody like Rob Porter, he is obviously very present in this book. I won’t guess about your sourcing. There is a lot to suggest that his character is — there is a fundamental flaw there.
In what way?

Well, by some personal accounts he is a very flawed human being. He is allegedly abusive. There is a lot to call into question his honesty.
Say that again.

There is a lot to suggest that he may not be an honest individual, right? So why do you decide to trust somebody like that?
Well, I am not going into the sourcing but there are — you test it with other people and documents and notes and it makes a big difference when somebody tells you something and you get your hand on the document itself. So because I had the luxury of time, of essentially two years to work on this, not quite, even. Ever since Trump was elected you can cross-check and see…

Woodward: I review theatrical performances on the world’s most important stage. Why should anyone expect me to take an interest in the actors’ personal hobbies?

In a review, Isaac Chotiner at Slate asked if you were perhaps the last optimist.
Really? I have not seen this.

He had a lot of criticisms of the book and one of them is there is this sort of view, a bias towards the people who cooperated, and they are presented in an almost heroic way.
But see, he does not know that. No one knows that except for myself and my assistant Evelyn.

Do you think that is true?
I know it is true.
Read more



Five years now

Five years ago, I made a serious miscalculation.

I was a low level bureaucrat trying to get Exchange networks to work for UPMC Health Plan.

I was exhausted that first fall as we were scrambling with interim solutions for several months after the ACA individual market went live.  We then had to go crazy to ramp up HealthyPA, a convoluted Medicaid expansion waiver program in Pennsylvania.

I was in Pittsburgh living an anonymous life.

I thought I would only have a couple dozen health insurance related posts spanning twenty or thirty thousand words in me.

Now I’m in Durham.

I’m now at 1,550 + Mayhew on Insurance posts and several hundred other general purpose posts.  My health policy word count is closer to a million words than half a million words.  There is a mostly written book somewhere in these posts and I will sooner or later need to convince myself that I can write a book on health policy.

 

Then, I could never be quoted nor would anyone want to hear what I wanted to say besides a couple of co-workers as we slammed espresso shots before another analysis run cycle.  Now, I’m part of the usual quotable suspects when major ACA news breaks out.

Writing here at Balloon Juice has been and continues to be an amazing experience.  I get to play with ideas that fascinate me, and John gives me the keys to write to an audience.

One of the big changes since I’ve come to Duke, beyond saying good bye to the persona of Richard Mayhew, is that I’ve changed my writing targets.  When I was Richard Mayhew, I had to write at Balloon Juice.  I could and would poke a few people here and there that something big was coming down the pipe but I was limited.  Now, the audience is sometimes all jackals.  Other days, the intended audience is a few score of geeks and policy professionals who need to know about some esoteric corner case.  I apologize when I take over the blog for those purposes as I feel like I am hijacking your attention to pay the cost of entry into conversations that I want to be in.

As I have been drafting this post over several days, I’ve talked to reporters from local and national general interest press, I talked to a reporter from the trade press, I submitted a pair of long and very technical pieces to Health Affairs, and a revise and resubmit just went back to the editors of a good peer reviewed journal.  If you spend enough time reading Balloon Juice, you could figure out 85% of the article excluding some of the regression based analysis.

I feel guilty about this at times.

Last week, was a good example.  I wrote a Medicare shared savings post that I was aiming at a few dozen academics and several dozen think tankers, journalists and very targeted policy wonks. It is a very specific, nerdy, and incomplete idea.  It was not worth an op-ed as it it too geeky. It was not a Health Affairs blog or a journal perspective piece as the idea was not polished enough for that purpose, so I went Balloon Juice. And that post got three comments.  And I was fine with that as this was not a general purpose post but a very small part of a very different conversation that I participate in.

I’ve moved away from some general purpose health insurance and ACA blogging and at times over the past year, I’ve chased personal shiny objects down rabbit holes.  And you guys put up with that. And for that I am greatly appreciative as I love writing here at Balloon Juice.  I have a scratch pad and a place to get first drafts (seldom second drafts as you see my grammar and spelling) of reactions and thoughts.  I can dig into something that fascinates me on my own time and my own schedule until it makes sense to me.  I hope that this is not pointless intellectual public indecency as this entire creative process is extraordinarily valuable for me.

Balloon Juice is a very different form of writing than writing a journal article.  Under the best case scenario, a fast journal timeline from “umm, that is a cool question” to publication is a year or more.  It is very different writing than a multi-author Health Affairs blog where commas can become fighting marks while the critical point that I want to make might be the lead melody or become subsumed as a backing bass line.  It is a very different writing process than pumping out a New York Times op-ed where I first truly appreciated the value of a wonderful editor.  That process makes me sound a whole lot smarter by the end.  The final 750 words are a tight 750 words instead of a 5 post, 3,000 word series here.  But I was worn out both times I went through that process.  This is a fun place to write  and it allows me to get into awesome conversations of a variety of stripes.

But mainly, I just want to thank all of the jackals, the front-pagers and John for a community where I can nerd out on something that I find fascinating.  I’ll figure out what Year Six looks like, but the first five have been wonderful.

 



Wednesday Night Open Thread

I just read some of the comments from the post below and I would like to state that you all suck and I never liked any of you.



Open Thread

FUCK THIS FUCKING RIDICULOUS HEAT



Late Night ‘If Only It Physically Hurt to Be So Willfully Stupid’ Open Thread: Tucker Carlson, Nativist Poster Child

Shorter T-Carls: Why hasn’t the trailer trash security detail evicted all these scary strangers yet?????

Let me point out: Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson was born in 1969. He does not personally remember the 1950s, and he’s more than old enough to have figured out that change is a human constant, not a personal affront.

I encourage you to click over & read all of Michael Harriot’s hilarious excoriation of the “sentient celery stalk” at The Root:

Here we should point out that Hispanic immigrants have not pushed out Hazelton’s white population. There are just as many, or more white people in Hazelton as there have always been. There are just more Hispanics now. Hazelton just grew. Hazelton’s white residents are free to have as many white friends as they always had. For them, absolutely nothing has changed except they are now outnumbered. There’s a name for people who want to hold on to that kind of society:

White supremacists

Carlson’s entire argument is based on the fact that he doesn’t want to live around brown people. More pointedly, he doesn’t want to be a minority. But if—like Tucker often claims—he’s not a bigot and racism is overblown, why would he have any problem being a minority? After all, he’d still be white…

But he’d never know what those “Hispanics” were saying to each other, in their weird inscrutable furrin languages. They might even be laughing at him!

(Spoiler, Mr. Carlson: Even us monolingual White people are perfectly capable of laughing at you… )



Kids these days


The kids will be alright.

———————————————————————

My first presidential vote was for Al Gore.

My first presidential donation was for Howard Dean.

My first presidential win was for Obama.

I’ve been pretty happy with my choices and my votes.  And the losses have been clusterfucks.

I don’t think that I am too unusual for the people of my generation and the generation that is younger than me.

 

Everyone my age and younger has seen Republican presidents lead us into dumb wars, insult, bully and harass our friends and family members  of color and/or non-hetero-cis gender identity and loot our futures while exacerbating large, long term climate problems.  We’ve seen that.  We’ve also seen the opposite.

Kids who are entering high school will have their political memories formed by the contrast of Trump and Obama.  Just think about that for a while.

The kids are all right; it is our job as old and not so old fogies to give them the time and space to grow.