Whether you’ve seen the Social Dilemma several times, work in social media or simply participate in the world as it is today, chances are you are somewhat familiar with the ‘algorithm’.

As we tend to do, society has been quick to anthropomorphise this amorphous and unpredictable equation. Like a personal guardian angel of content behind each of our screens, we discuss how it ‘learns’ and ‘curates’, even going as far as to defend or villainise it. Often dismissive of the fundamental fact that few of us (including, occasionally their creators) know exactly how they work. Or even what they are.

For those who managed to avoid both the event and ensuing social media carnage, on Friday 5th of February, the ex-National Party leader Simon Bridges went on The AM Show and said, while forcing someone to undergo conversion therapy is wrong, making it illegal caused concerns.

What were his concerns? The effect it would have on free speech.

“I personally do have a wider concern,” Bridges said. “That is freedom of speech. That is in a liberal society, in a tolerant society, we have been very tolerant of different views.”

Almost instantly, Bridges’ stance elicited a fiery response from both…

Stories are powerful things.

Armed with a good narrative, a belief about the way the world is, one can endure a surprising amount of tribulation. Stories become a hope we cast our eyes up towards during the low moments; something that tugs us through the mess, arranging it into some sort of meaning in its wake.

If it’s a truly good one, rich in significance and persistently asserted — by friends, family or the media we consume — one can also endure a remarkable number of experiences that challenge its truth, without ever wavering.

——

So, it makes sense that…

There were many new year resolutions I could have chosen all those months ago. Back when the days were heavy with summer heat and plans were made with the audacious confidence that this year would be somewhat if not exactly like the ones that came before.

After a year devoted to constant motion, from Melbourne to Auckland, Vanuatu to finally, farewelling 2019 in Northern France, the fact I chose ‘ritual’ as a resolution to guide the next 12 months was both surprising and appropriate.

Enamoured by extremes, it made an unusual kind of sense to chase a time dedicated entirely…

Considering the time, effort and money involved in a 17th-century oil painting, it’s fair to wonder why Vermeer didn’t recreate a more compelling scene than that of an anonymous woman standing in a plain kitchen pouring milk.

Yet for this Dutch genre painting, and hundreds of others like it, the mundaneness is not a flaw but precisely the point.

An era that born from Netherland’s new Republic in the 1700s’, the Dutch Golden Age was a time of profound national change and prosperity marked by an overwhelming hunger for freedom. …

  1. Collect the starter from your friend. When they assure you it’s okay if you don’t feed it for a week, nod as though the concept of feeding dough is something you’re totally familiar with.
  2. Google ‘feeding sourdough starter’ and realise you can kill dough. Given your track record with living things like cacti or Tamagotchis, this isn’t a great start.
  3. Compare two recipes; one which takes 2 hours, another which takes 22.
  4. Select the latter because you have a rampant achievement complex.
  5. Drag yourself out of bed at 10pm because you forgot you must mix 1tbsp starter with 3 cups…

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.”
— Epicurious.

It began with a blouse.

A mustard coloured faux-silk number hanging in one of those colossal department stores, it wasn’t anything special. It’s ordinariness perhaps the very thing that made me aware of a particular kind of paradox.

A person feels an increasing sense of lack ad deprivation yet has lost none of their belongings?

See, if you’d asked me four months ago if I owned enough clothes, the answer was an easy yes. Then, I started working in the city, spending lunch breaks browsing shops…

He’ll never know it, but my motivation to bite the bullet and write this piece is owing to an old journalism professor. More specifically, some advice he imparted in response to a mild breakdown I once had in his office.

“Sarah, how do you eat an elephant?” Stumped at how this was relevant to the assignment causing said distress, I stared dumbly. “Start at the toes,” he said with a positively jovial wink.

So, here I am. Starting at the toes of the elephant that is news consumption, knowing smarter people have grappled with this far longer and still come…

Being in social isolation leaves few genuine joys, so when you learn of a silver lining, it’s all too tempting to grab hold. Like the fact that, despite initial reservations, this lockdown is actually a government-mandated retreat of sorts, during which you can become your very best self.

Armed with the rare gift of more time, you can finally read those 87 books on your Goodreads list and learn how to make home-made pasta. You can teach yourself, French, write that novel, Marie Kondo every room and get that inbox to zero. …

I want to write about this for perhaps the exact reason I feel I shouldn’t; it’s everywhere. A too-tempting topic we are all simultaneously exhausted and obsessed with.

In fact, one could go as far as to say broadcasting your isolation experience, whether it be through Instagram live-streams, blog posts, Facebook updates or twitter threads, has become cliché. We’re the generation of constant self-demonstration suddenly in possession of a fascinating experience and ample time with which to share it.

That being said, I’ve always believed the only thing worse than doing something because everyone else is, is pointedly not participating…

Sarah Pollok

just another word writing, coffee addicted millenial

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