One of my favourite things about the internet (apart from this) is the availability of great, longform writing.
I’ve lost hours of my life to the longreads rabbit hole – diving into almost every facet of the human experience, beautifully evoked by some amazingly talented writers.
It’s kind of an addiction at this point.
Here’s some of my favourites from 2017. I’d bookmark this page because you’re going to want to savour these beauties.
They are best enjoyed in a quiet office, settled into a comfy chair with a cup of tea at your elbow (with the optimal milk-to-tea ratio).
This is the story of Collin Andrew Yost, a marine scientist turned poet who suddenly found himself the focus of intense cyber-bullying when the internet decided it hated his work.
Yann, who admits herself to joining in the public castigation, introduces us to the man at the heart of the internet storm, and peels back the layers to show us how hatred goes viral and what it says about our culture.
” People can rally community around something they love or something they hate. When community builds around the latter, as it often does, the line between criticism and abuse begins to blur.”
What Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Depiction of Mental Illness Has Meant to me This Season, by Angelica Jade Bastien (Vulture)
Art imitates life in this piece which is so much more than your average TV review.
Bastien was first institutionalised in a mental hospital at the age of 13 and has been in and out of treatment ever since. Diagnosed with depression, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar type II, she reflects on how mental health has shaped her identity, and how it’s portrayed on television.
“Mental illness, particularly for black and brown people, whose communities have yet to create an empathetic vocabulary to discuss this issue, can feel like a dark mark that can’t be hidden or scrubbed away no matter how hard you try. Film and television reflect and shape this cruel history. Madwomen are rarely depicted as beleaguered geniuses or the heroes of their own stories, but often its victims and villains.”
My book club and I are obsessed with CNA so it’s no surprise this profile made my list.
The woman is wise, articulate and interesting. She also writes a hell of a book.
Eggers knows the writer well, which means he delivers an intimate, affectionate profile that leaves you feeling like you’ve made a friend.
“Adichie looks with a gimlet eye at American liberal doctrine, preferring open and frank debate to the narrow constraints of approved messaging.”
I’m a journalist by trade so Gendreau’s story about the uncertain future of local news had me a little depressed.
It’s a fascinating read if you’re interested in publishing with an honest and heartfelt look at how newspapers have fallen so low, what they are doing to reverse the slump and what a future without local news would look like.
“To dismiss newspapers as dinosaurs that deserve to die is to see a paper as somehow apart from the community it serves.
It’s possible that further losses in news at the local level could lead to even greater misunderstanding and confusion about what’s going on around you. What’s happening in your town, your life. Frustration deepens, isolation increases. You take your anger out at the polls. Or nowhere at all.”
Anyone who’s ever worked in an office will find themselves nodding sagely throughout this story.
But it’s not just an amusing rundown of most-hated phrases, it’s also a deep examination of where management speak came from, how it has come in and out of fashion, and the long-term costs of talking rubbish.
“This language has become a kind of organisational lingua franca, used by middle managers in the same way that freemasons use secret handshakes – to indicate their membership and status. It echoes across the cubicled landscape. It seems to be everywhere, and refer to anything, and nothing.”
The stories above are only the tip of the iceberg, there are a lot of great (free!) stories out there.