Ocasio-Cortez/Nixon

Side by side, the New York candidates’ differences shone

By Saira Khan

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a Q.A. at Mic’s headquarters in TriBeCa, hosted by Mic’s founder Jake Horowitz, between Cynthia Nixon, who is running for governor of New York City, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, from the Bronx, the 28-year-old who is poised to become the youngest Congresswoman ever.

The conversation was brief, a little less than an hour, and the format was simple: Horowitz asked the questions, the women answered. Nixon and Ocasio-Cortez, who are both Democratic Socialists, are among the record number of women running for office this year, in light of Trump’s election, no doubt.

Until November of last year, Ocasio-Cortez was a bartender in the Bronx. Nixon, who most of us recognize from “Sex and the City” fame, is an Emmy-award winning actress, who has been in the industry since 1980. Neither woman has any experience in politics. And that’s about all they have in common.

Seeing them speak, side-by-side, I was struck by how animated and earnest Ocasio-Cortez was, and by comparison, how rehearsed Nixon was, who name-checked Governor Andrew Cuomo whenever she could. While Nixon still has a fight ahead of her at the polls, her attacks on Cuomo felt like a distraction from the fact that she didn’t seem to have much to contribute. The first question that Horowitz asked was about the Trump Administration’s immigration policy, which Nixon deflected to Ocasio-Cortez, initially making it seem like she was giving Ocasio-Cortez, a Latina, the space to answer. But as the event progressed, Nixon deflected more and more of the questions to Ocasio-Cortez, who, at one point, even asked Nixon if she had anything to add, noting that she had been doing most of the talking.

The only time when Nixon shone was when Horowitz asked her about possibly running under another party’s ballot in the event that she loses the Democratic primary, similar to rumors that are floating around about Joe Crowley, who lost the primary to Ocasio-Cortez.

“I want to point out though that Governor Cuomo may also face the same situation when I win the Democratic primary. I’m not the only person on another ballot line. Andrew Cuomo is actually on two different ballot lines… I don’t mind being asked this question, what I do mind is how Andrew Cuomo is never asked this question.”

Ocasio-Cortez, on the other hand, elicited many “woos” from the audience, and while she started the event guarded, by the end she let the Bronx-girl in her out–calling out male politicians for holding women back. I’m going to include the full, long quote here because it feels like a disservice to Ocasio-Cortez to edit this down:

“Congress is 80% male, that’s embarrassing y’all. Congress is 80% male which means that there are massive blind spots in how we pursue legislation that deals with health care, equal rights, pay, etc, but also I think that when government is so overwhelmingly male, Cynthia Nixon would be the first female governor of the state, when government is so overwhelmingly male, the only way for us to get seats is to be given permission to run. So then we have to cause trouble to claim our seat, we have to. People are saying ‘oh you’re doing this, you’re destroying the party, you’re too young, you’re not ready, you’re naive, you’re uneducated, blah blah blah.’ That is what I’ve been told and that is what women have been have been told their whole lives whenever they want to do anything ambitious so you know what? Screw it. They’re gonna say it, cause some trouble, get that 50%, get that parity, get that gender-expanding representation in office, cause you gotta claim it, you gotta take it. Cause I’m sorry, sorry, if I’m gonna wait for the 80% of dudes in Congress to give me permission, I’m gonna be 80 by then!”

It’s hard to argue with Ocasio-Cortez’s point, but with the primary a little less than three months away, I’m alarmed by Nixon’s lackluster performance–she’s taking on a seven-year incumbent from a political family, and is polling 36 points behind. Nixon may have taken on some of Ocasio-Cortez’s platform, but what she really needs to do is soak up some of her authenticity, otherwise, come September, she’ll be in trouble.

You can watch parts of the QA here. 

An Interview With the Editor of “RBG”

A discussion with Carla Gutierrez about editing the hit documentary “RBG,” mentorship, and what it takes to be an editor today.

By Monica Torres

Carla Gutierrez is the film editor behind this year’s hit documentary “RBG,” an intimate look at the life and fame surrounding U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was her job to distill decades of the 85-year-old’s life and litigation career into one movie. Gutierrez is also the editor of the Oscar-nominated film “La Corona,” the Emmy-nominated documentaries “Reportero” and “Kingdom of Shadows,” and is part of the 2018 class of new Academy members. I met her five years ago after I graduated college when she kindly reached out to me as a fellow alum and let me see what being a working journalist was like.

We chatted about the months she spent editing “RBG,” mentorship, and what it takes to be an editor today:

How do you give viewers a personal experience when you are editing archival footage?

I could talk to you for hours about this. That’s my job. The goal that we have as filmmakers is a strong collaboration with the directors to give a voice to their vision in the detail of the rhythm and the combination of sound and picture. The goal is to create as personal of a picture as you can, to get as close to the subject matter or the characters as you can.

[For the confirmation hearing], those were four days of archival footage that we went through, and a lot of it was dry. It’s about having an eye and looking for the moments that really jumped at you and then building around those moments. So it was very much the moment when the camera was on her husband, on Marty, and he’s smiling while she’s talking about him. And you can only get that from just watching a lot of the material that we have and spending time discovering the potential and the gems. And that was a gem.

You have a lot of interviews where people are talking about how much they love each other, but when you see a moment like that, in actual video, you can see the expressions of them being in the same room. Those are the moments that you focus on and you build around to give them more emotion. It’s fun.

In one moving sequence, we see women of different races and generations on the screen as a young Ginsburg argues her first Supreme Court case, Frontiero v. Richardson, and explains to a group of all-male justices how gender-based discrimination exists. Quotes from her legal brief explaining what it means to be a second-class citizen —“branded inferior,” “subordinate,” “waste of human resources”— appear alongside these women as we see Ginsburg advocate on their behalf.

When I was watching the material at the very beginning, I was feeling emotionally close to the challenges that women in all generations have had that I can relate to, but I never felt so emotionally close to that. As a younger generation, there’s a bit of a distance that we have with the ‘70’s women’s movement, or the struggle to get our vote, because we take some of those things for granted. Through [Ginsburg’s] work, it made me feel incredibly close to those women and incredibly grateful. And it was a conversation with the directors that we wanted to make sure that the viewer also felt close to the women who inspired her work.

In all the interview archival that we have, [RBG] would always talk about the people that came before her. There’s that gratitude that she has for people who have done the work before her. We wanted to make sure that the viewers also felt personally close to those women. And I find that just by seeing those faces looking at you is a way to see them as yourself.

That’s one of things we tried with Frontiero when we were using all those black-and-white pictures of women from all different generations from the beginning of the history of the United States.

Did you end up meeting RBG in person?

I did! I met her at Sundance where we had the premiere.

The directors introduced the entire crew and we were all women. There were six of us. When we stood up, she was super excited about that.

How is it to meet someone you’ve been studying for hours and hours?

It’s really weird, but I’m used to it now because I’ve been editing for a long time. The first time I met a subject that I had edited, I really scared him. I really wanted to talk to him right away. It was like starting a conversation that he didn’t know about, and I wanted to continue that conversation. I quickly learned that you can really scare people and make them feel like you’re stalking them at a party. I keep my distance with subjects now. I’m never going to get to know them on a personal level, I just know them as characters in a film.

A film is a film. You’re compressing so much time, you’re making decisions to focus on one aspect of someone’s life, you’re never going to present a whole picture of a person’s life.

Taking a different track on questions, I still remember the kindness you showed me five years ago and it made me think a lot about mentoring. Have you ever had someone like that for you?

Yes, other editors. I’m really lucky that I’m in a career where documentary editors are really generous with each other and with their time, I’ve found. With documentaries, it’s not like you’re making the big bucks.

Most people in this industry really love what they are doing and they really want to do it for a bigger reason because they feel the need to tell a story or they think that there’s a social issue it’s really important to bring more light on.  

A lot of the editors I’ve met have been incredibly generous. There’s one person in particular that gave me my first shot. I started as a translator for her, then as an assistant editor, then I ended up as a second editor. Her name is Kim Roberts. She just gave me the space to try things and to edit scenes and I learned a lot from her about longform storytelling.

What would be your advice for someone, particularly someone who is Latina who wants to do what you do and work as an editor?

If I get a call from a young Latina woman, I will definitely make myself available to them. 

Watch a lot of films, and try to talk to the people you admire. Study people, so that when you talk to them, make sure that you know their work. Look for opportunities for mentorship. When you’re working at an entry-level assistant editing position, don’t be scared to ask the editors for you to be available in the room where story conversations are happening. The worst thing that can happen is really people saying no.

When I’ve had the chance to work on a bigger team, I’ve really liked it when people ask me, “Would you mind if I try to edit something in my free time?” or “Would you mind if I sit when you’re talking with the directors?” I always tell them, well let me talk to the directors because it’s really up to them, they’re the bosses, but I would love it.

If you come in, just be respectful and listen unless someone asks you for your opinion. I learned a lot from watching other people.

For editors, there is a great organization in New York, the Karen Schmeer editing fellowship. The fellowship gives a fellowship to one emerging editor a year and they recently started a diversity program and the pilot is only in New York. I’m a part of that, I’m a mentor to a few of them.

If I get a call from a young Latina woman, I will definitely make myself available to them.

For this industry, everything is word of mouth. As an editor you are getting into an intimate creative collaboration with people. People really want recommendations. Directors are giving their babies to editors. We’re kind of the doulas. They want to feel comfortable with the editors and they want the right match.

What were other favorite movies from this year?

—“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
I really loved the Fred Rogers documentary. The communal experience of sobbing loudly in the theater is really cool and cathartic.

—“This Is Home
It’s a verite film about new refugees in the United States. It’s mostly grounded in observational footage. That was a really strong film.

—“The Sentence
Also incredibly moving and essential for the discussion of prison reform and family separation.

—“Inventing Tomorrow
There’s a global science competition fair for high school kids. Kids all over the world apply to it. The documentary focuses on kids in the third world who are doing projects specifically to solve environmental problems that they are facing in their backyard. My son who is really into science loved it and the conversation that it sparked on environmental change was great for him to have.


Summer (Movies) In the City

Movies are like Netflix, but you pay more and have to leave your house!

by Frida Oskarsdottir

I go to the movies more in New York City than anywhere else I’ve lived, which is ironic given the prices and wealth of things to do here compared to a lot of other places. Yet something about entering a cool, dark room in which you have nothing to do but let someone else’s best attempt at art wash over you is hard to resist. I know I’m not alone in my affinity; in more than half of the screenings I go to I’m forced to sit in the first row of a sold-out theater because I refuse to show up more than 5 minutes early to anything, really. Here are some thoughts on the 2018 summer films I’ve air-conditioned my way through:

Eighth Grade
Director: Bo Burnham
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Runtime: 94 minutes

Eighth Grade - Still 1

Alternate Title: Puberty: A Horror Anthology

Why should you see it? This movie might break you. A specific, unsentimental, smart, profound glimpse into my deepest insecurities adolescence, perhaps the best part about this film is that it clocks in at just over an hour and a half. PRAISE BE – as someone who sees a lot of movies, let me tell you that they just keep. Getting. Longer. CUT IT DOWN, FRIENDS. Brevity aside, I loved Eighth Grade. The euphoria of a new friend, the singular gut-punch of loneliness and the widening chasm between teenager and parent, it all felt a little too real for this formerly acne-ridden viewer. I give it 4 headgears and would pair with an oily appetizer that will go straight to your T-zone.

Most memorable scene: The gloriously specific choices made in this movie are what elevate it past a lot of other coming-of-age films; what especially killed me dead was the perfect casting of Kayla’s love-interest, Aiden (of course his name is fucking Aiden). When this kid materialized at a pool party with his scrawny pale body and icy blue eyes in oversized swim trunks, I went into a middle school blackout, right back to drooling over an equally pubescent Chris Redacted who, looking back, bore more resemblance to Gollum than a man. Aiden holds complete power over Kayla while doing exactly nothing to earn it, which hit so close to home it might have knocked on my door.

Related reading: Eighth Grade’s #MeToo Scene Will Shake You To Your Core by Anna Sillman for The Cut

Emoji Story: 😬🍌😢📱😭


Sorry to Bother You
Director: Boots Riley
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Runtime: 111 minutes

sorry-to-bother-you.w600.h315.2x

Alternate Title: Capitalism is Evil: Bet You Didn’t Think There’d Be Horse Penises

Why should you see it? If you’re bored of seeing movies that you can predict the ending to after the first five minutes, maybe check this one out. Boots Riley’s surreal satire is equal amounts comedy, social commentary, and sci-fi, and its unabashedly socialist leanings are sure to entertain viewers fed up with our failed two-party system. Peppered with just-realistic-enough absurdities about workplace culture and income inequality, Sorry to Bother You extends its metaphors gleefully past the place where other films may have stopped, which I always appreciate.

Most memorable scene: Lakeith Stanfield being forced to rap at Armie Hammer’s cocaine-fueled, yuppie-nightmare party was just as horrifying as it was hysterical, and I’m definitely not allowed to recap the lyrics for you.

Related Reading: Searching for Detroit: Sorry to Bother You’s Female Lead Is More Symbol Than Person by Jourdain Searles for Bitch Media

Emoji story: 📞💸👀💀🐴🍆


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Director: J.A. Bayona
Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Runtime: 128 minutes

jurassic

Alternate Title: Escape from Trash Island: She’s Not Wearing Heels This Time

Why should you see it? You absolutely should not. That being said, if you, like me, have a shitty day and decide to drown your sorrows in a bottle of red wine surreptitiously mixed with a giant Coke (don’t judge, it’s Spanish) and some DINO DNA, go forth my friend. As far as easy to digest action movies with, wow, another crazy hybrid dinosaur go, you could do worse. Just don’t be let down that even a brief Jeff Goldblum cameo can’t take this story back to its 1993 glory.

Most memorable scene: When they reveal 30 minutes before the movie ends that a tertiary character is a clone and everyone in the theater collectively goes “Wait what?” and then you realize that this is the second movie in a trilogy and the stakes could not be lower for plot points that they can wrap up next time.

Related Reading: The ‘Jurassic World’ sequel achieves the impossible: It makes dinosaurs boring.” by Travis M. Andrews for The Washington Post

Emoji story: 🏝🦎🏰👫😑


Ocean’s 8
Director: Gary Ross
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Runtime: 111 minutes

oceans

Alternate Title: I Wanted To Like This So Badly: A Film Starring Everyone

Why should you see it? Full disclosure, sometime last year I spent the majority of a hungover Sunday watching all three Ocean’s remakes. And I LIKED EM. Part nostalgia, part socially-ingrained worship of charismatic male lead actors, part ignoring Don Cheadle’s unbelievably bad Cockney accent, whatever it was they worked. My point is that this all-ladies sequel was tailor-made for me – I watched the trailer about 30 times. Maybe over-hyping was my downfall, because 20 minutes into this movie, I peered over at my husband to mouth the words “I’M BORED” and was met with his “I already know what you’re going to say and don’t say it because this is a quiet place” look he always does when I inevitably start whispering. But I was bored and I felt bad about it – something about the pacing and clunkiness of the ensemble left me cold. And now you know my darkest secret.

Most memorable scene: Despite my lackluster review I certainly didn’t hate this movie, which I thought made a lot of clever choices. The best of which is that while the viewers are behind the scenes with the criminals watching the master plan come together, we aren’t totally in on all of the secrets. Watching them unfold at the Met Gala was genuinely fun, the whimsy of which I wish had continued throughout.

Emoji story: 💎👗👠😴

Related Reading: Anne Hathaway Wins Ocean’s 8 by Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker


Hereditary
Director: Ari Aster
Rotten Tomatoes:89%
Runtime: 124 minutes

hereditary

Alternate Title: Will I Ever Feel True Happiness Again? Toni Collette Says No

Why should you see it? A lot of people loved this movie, which has a lot going for it. I don’t know that I can use the word “love” about something that essentially held me captive, A Clockwork Orange style, and force-fed me series of deeply upsetting scenes until my body went numb, but it was definitely something. Toni Collette will never fail at anything she does, so she can check “disturbingly unflinching portrayal of a woman on the edge of sanity” off her list and head back to “quirky Australian” now (please).

Most memorable scene: As a fan of Rosemary’s Baby, the homage at the end of Hereditary winked at me, but it also was kind of a let down. The movie was nothing if not original and it felt a little bit like the ending was picked off of a horror-movie dartboard. Oh also, the part where the kid’s head gets chopped off.

Related Reading: It’ll just scare you.

Emoji story: 😱😱😱😱😱💁


Crazy Rich Asians
Director: John M. Chu
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Runtime: 121 minutes

crazyrich

Alternate Title: Everyone Is Hot: This Movie Was Made of Air and I Still Cried At The End

Why should you see it? If you’re expecting dissent from the praise heaped on this movie since it came out, look elsewhere because I freaking loved it. Simultaneously silly and meaningful, Crazy Rich Asians was just straight-up fun to experience, with the added bonus of knowing it’s proving anyone who thinks people won’t go see movies with a predominantly Asian and Asian-American cast deeply wrong. This film also had a lot of abs, colorful outfits, and jokes, which means I was doomed from the start.

Most memorable scene: Crazy Rich Asians was elevated above a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy for a lot of reasons, but we all still knew how it was going to end. Why then, did I find myself weeping and thinking about how much I loved my family while two very attractive people embraced and brandished a giant ring on screen? Just movie magic, I suppose.

Related Reading: This Twitter Thread by Kimberly Yam

Emoji story: 🌹🌴🍇🍭🌈🌀🍸💅💖

Summer’s End Astrology

The psychic is in.

By Gabrielle Sierra

August is upon us, and as hot days melt away into hot nights you may be wondering – what should I be doing with myself? How am I to know how to live my life without a psychic providing me with guidance?

Well fear not, dear readers, for I have gazed into my crystal balls and read the cards and monitored the planets, and I am now fully prepared to offer you all the blind life advice you will need to finish out your summer.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

August is your time to shine! If you were nervous about your birthday just remember – age is but a number, and that number is 78, the average lifespan for a person living in the United States. Time is on your side so relax and enjoy! But also don’t forget to be realistic. Take into account all those boozy nights you had in your 20’s that will probably shave a few years off your life. Also the drugs; those can’t help with aging. Plus you probably spend most of your day sitting at a desk which is actually killing you. Oh and senility, that happens at some point. Anyway, happy birthday you!

Virgo  (August 23 – September 22)

It isn’t your birthday yet, Diane, no one wants to hear about your potential party options.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Beautiful, kind Libra soul. Embracer of harmony and peace all around. This August go a little crazy! Spread a rumor, foment insurrection. Stand up in the middle of your yoga class and start calling people out for their shitty downward dog. Get onto a train before letting others off. Go to a public pool and splash around, shove a kid. You keep your zen for 90 percent of the year, you deserve one cheat month.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

You are known for being passionate and jealous so August is the perfect month to finally let Kevin know you have been following him. Maybe give him the dream journals.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

Sagittarius is basically the best sign. Your positive traits – confidence, positivity, intelligence, energy – basically cancel out your negative ones. Superficial? So what, you are confident about it. Inconsistent? Eh, you are intelligent enough to know that you don’t have to follow through on everything. Basically we get it, you own every month, so just stop posting it all on Instagram because it is really getting annoying.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

You are known for your ambition, but also for your practical nature. You set standards for yourself and others, and value responsibility. This month, pull the stick out of your butt and throw caution to the wind! Hit up a party, adopt a pet you are not ready to take care of, miss a few loan payments. Live your life and follow your impulses for once. This can finally be the August you join that fight club. YOLO, baby.

Aquarius  (January 20 – February 18)

Aquarius is an air sign, so this month you should get yourself out there into the great wide open! It is the perfect time to take a vacation: make sure to pick somewhere beautiful and clear where you can breathe deeply and let your hair down in the warm wind. If you can’t get away from work, step out into the hot stagnant air! Scream into the void and think about all your lousy choices as a crazy man pees nearby.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

Pisces are known for being selfless so you don’t get a horoscope. Thank you for your sacrifice.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Independent, ambitious, and always up for a chance to trail-blaze, August is the perfect month for an Aries adventure. Grab your pack and head out on the open road. Climb that mountain, take the solo hike, camp under the stars. Document your trip relentlessly. Make sure to have that stranger take the photo from a few different angles so you can choose the best one to post on Facebook. See if the Grand Canyon has Wifi. Don’t forget to Instagram story your breakfast, the world must know.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Taurus people are known for being stubborn. This month, use your persistence for good! Ask for that raise at work and don’t take no for an answer. Camp out in your bosses office and refuse to leave until you are forcibly removed. Security has nothing on you, Taurus.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

You are two personalities in one, and no one knows which to expect. This month celebrate your clever nature and your dual set of traits by fluctuating wildly between emotions. Sob and then laugh hysterically. Throw something in anger and then act very afraid. Be your best self-s.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Your birthday already happened, Ashley, get over it.

High Pitch: Summer Sabbatical

Steamy winds recede from the subway grates and a chill is felt anew; summer sings its swan song. Daylight declines as we approach another equinox, but we hold tight to the hits that carried us through the dog days.

By Laura Gardiner

Steamy winds recede from the subway grates and a chill is felt anew; summer sings its swan song. Daylight declines as we approach another equinox, but we hold tight to the hits that carried us through the dog days.

Where Are We When We’re Online?

As technology enters evermore spheres of our lives, we spend more and more time in virtual space.

By Frida Oskarsdottir

While we humans have always looked to whatever forms of entertainment were available as escapism, smart devices have taken our ability to escape full circle, allowing us to participate in an alternate virtual space. I’m not talking about VR, I’m talking about group chats, work emails, status updates, and online dating. In science fiction, cyberspace is depicted as an infinite stream of 1s and 0s, zooming past each other against the inky black universe. We now reside in this mysterious void: “talking” to loved ones, “laughing” through emojis, “experiencing,” “being” “online”.

Even before the release of the first iPhone, it was clear that our actions in the virtual realm didn’t always mirror those outside of it. Psychologist John Suler describes this as “online disinhibition effect,” or more plainly put, why people act insane online. According to Suler, six factors comprise the phenomenon: dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority. Both violent trolling (toxic disinhibition) and surprising acts of kindness (benign disinhibition) can result from this volatile cocktail of factors, much like the varying results of any type of cocktail consumption. To extend the metaphor, some people will (usually drunkenly) tell you that it is our “true selves” that come out after a few drinks. Can the same be said for who we are online?

As people become comfortable living part of their lives online, we begin to normalize behavior that deviates further from what we might accept in real life, even from ourselves. We can do this because there is always someone a little bit nuttier than you posting too much about their marital issues or 25 consecutive identical selfies; the bar gets pushed further away from reality. Sure, you interrupted a meal to take a picture of your food and share it to an audience that includes your third grade teacher and your coworker from 11 years ago, but it’s not like you’re arguing with a bot on Twitter, right? Right??

Over the past two years, the actress Busy Philipps has emerged as an Instagram story darling by sharing mundane aspects of her life with her ravenous viewers (author included). Much has been written about her success with this endeavor versus as an actress, but what is missing from the discourse is how bizarre it is for her to have an endless, real-time, one-sided conversation with hundreds of thousands of strangers about her medical history, small children, and job. In fact, we don’t think it’s weird at all; she is simply an early adopter of a new social media platform. And lo and behold, the rest of us followed: Instagram reported last summer that over 250 million of its 500 million users posted stories every day.

Philipps’ brand is authenticity; we are to believe only the narrowest sliver exists between the woman we see on our screens and the one we could run into on the streets of L.A. But the thing about virtual space is that we can be whoever we want. We don’t have to enter until we’re perfectly groomed; so we can plan out exactly what we say in just the right amount of characters. The more time we spend as this version of ourselves–snarkier, funnier, prettier, smarter– the more comfortable we become, but the differences between the screen and the person behind it remain.

Millions of people looking for love– one out of four straight couples and two out of three gay couples now meet online–have to contend with these discrepancies, which are more complicated than just lying about your height on your dating profile. Articles are devoted to exactly how much time should be spent flirting online before meeting up; too much time means the other person is probably married, too little time means it’s just sex. What is implicit but unstated in these guides is that who we are online is fundamentally different, otherwise we’d never have to meet. When you do agree to get together the opportunity for virtual space is far from diminished. Maybe you answer some emails while you wait at the bar, rather than anxiously wondering if your date will recognize your unfiltered face. If it goes well, you might text your friends about it on the way home, and then dive into everything your date has posted publicly on social media.

While online dating presumes that at a certain point you get together and see where it goes in the real world, virtual space still finds its way into more established relationships. I might say goodbye to my husband in the morning before work but as soon as I step outside of our door, I can instantly connect with him at any point throughout the day. There’s no need to wait until we occupy the same physical space to share my thoughts with him. Imperceptibly but undeniably there is a difference between seeing one another at the end of the day and having been in constant communication. So too is there a difference between a disagreement online or in person; one of us might wait to bring up some annoyance at a careless remark made until we’re chatting online, putting space between our feelings and reactions. On more than one occasion I’ve found it easier to resolve a squabble online than in person, only to realize when we are back in the same room I’m not quite over it. On the other side of the coin, you only have to Google “online flirting cheating?” to see that for a lot of people, virtual space can get a little crowded.

In the Black Mirror episode “The Entire History of You,” the focus is a society wherein a growing population of people implant devices into their brains that record everything they see, allowing for total recall and playback of memories and the ability to jump into the virtual past at any moment. There are obvious benefits to the technology; we’re shown examples of improved homeland security and child safety. But slowly, the ways the “grain” impacts the protagonist become more sinister, from preoccupation with a lackluster job interview or obsessing over his wife’s interactions with another man at a party, to watching an old memory of himself having great sex while having boring sex. The most unsettling part comes after the TV is off, when you think about how close we are to realizing a similar future of full integration between ourselves and technology. Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe before we travel to the end of the virtual universe we’ll come up for some fresh air, blinking in the sun. Our kids might eschew the iPhone 22S for a rotary or a telegraph, rolling their eyes at the infinite photos their parents used to take of themselves, floating in the cloud.

The Space Men Occupy (on My Phone)

A short story about dating and time traveling through my phone to free up storage.

By Saira Khan

If you, like me, are not the type of person who deletes things from their phone then your phone is, like mine, somewhat of a shrine to people who once occupied space in your life. When you scroll through a year’s worth of break up messages you begin to notice a pattern—for a certain kind of Earth man, the more you make contact, the more they drift off into space, spiraling away in their spacesuit as soon as you reach out. 

T., Never met, May 2018

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J., Four months, April 2018

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A., Three months, March 2018

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J.A, Two dates, March 2018

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G., 2 months, August 2017

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B., 12 months, November 2017

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D., 2 months, October, 2017

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Q., 1 date, December, 2017

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Present day, new motto

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#MeTooLOL

We are officially living in the “it is now okay to make bad jokes about #MeToo” space.

By Gabrielle Sierra

Welp, that was fast. I mean, we all knew it would happen, but damned if it didn’t arrive licketysplit.

We are officially living in the “it is now okay to make bad jokes about #MeToo” space.

First, I heard it from a male coworker in a meeting when he discussed the order in which we would be presenting a project. “And I’ll go first,” he said. “Me first. Like Me Too, right? #MeFirst.”

Then it was a male friend. “You all ordered beers without me? What about mine? #MeToo!”

After that it seemed to come from everywhere. There were jokes on podcasts, jokes overheard in bars and restaurants. The bubble of care and tip-toeing was popped, and men were free to make light of something that made them very uncomfortable.

I have yet to hear a woman make a #MeToo joke that wasn’t delivered in order to highlight the actual movement and not to make light of or jokingly appropriate a phrase.

I know that these jokes are silly, and not intended to inflict any pain or offense. I know that many may read this and call me a feminist killjoy. Afterall, the #MeToo movement and others like it are still front and center in the public discourse and being taken very seriously. It is something that a number of industries and businesses are finally addressing in a real way, and it is spreading around the world.

You may also argue that the world needs laughter and banter and we should have the ability to laugh at ourselves. I agree. But I can’t help but feel that jokes like these open a door, and welcome in a hint of mockery, a breeze of doubt and double-talk.

Because the wounds are still fresh and they reopen all the time.

October 2017, the month in which both The New Yorker and The New York Times released their heart-and-gut-wrenching pieces on Harvey Weinstein’s history of abuse and sexual assault, was less than a year ago. Attendees wearing all black to the Golden Globes in a nod to Time’s Up? Yeah that was January of this year. Bill Clinton’s abysmal responses to questions about sexual harassment were a few weeks ago. Just a handful of days ago we found out that Haim fired their agent after discovering that they were making ten times less than a male artist booked for the same festival. And it was earlier this month that Jeff Sessions announced that asylum seekers can no longer cite fears of violence or domestic abuse as a means to enter the United States.

Every day, stories of mistreatment, assault, abuse, harassment and coercion are coming to light. We aren’t cured, and everything isn’t safe, fair, perfect.

So is already okay to make light of something so huge? So important? Turning #MeToo into a phrase that can be used as a bad joke about forgotten beer?

I am not ready to fake laugh at that quite yet.

A Productivity Hacks Gothic Short Story

When carving space for yourself takes a dark turn.

By Monica Torres

1. “They hijack your mind,” the man in the talk said. “We are in a crisis of attention.”

2. Before bedtime, you put your phone on your nightstand. You put your phone in the living room. You bury your phone in the backyard underneath dirt, and rock, and bone. You wake up and it is in your hand again.

3. You nap before work, in between work, and after work. You are always napping. You never sleep.

4. They gift you unlimited vacation days that you never take. You know better now. The last time you returned from one, they had looked at you blankly: “Who are you?” Someone who looked just like you had sat at your desk. She had waved hello.

5. Don’t let email take over your day, they warn. The last person it consumed never came back the same. You schedule time at the beginning and end of your day to beat it back. No matter how well you prepare, each day, it grows back and you start over.

6. Standup meetings replace regular meetings. They are so successful chairs and cushions begin to disappear from the office. No more time wasted getting settled. The board wants to make the doors glass next.

7. To maximize your day, you go outside of your office at prescribed times. Morning light keeps you awake longer. Thirty minutes of afternoon light can undo hours of sitting. When the dusk hits your retinas, you swear you can hear the breeze, and faintly, screams that sounds like your own. Then you go back inside, full of ideas.

8. You automate your errands to an app, which is run by a group of humans who arrange your laundry pickup and book your hotels, and monitors your sleep. It’s 24/7. When friends ask, you say it’s easy to use and free to download: “People don’t even know that it’s not me.”

9. You start evaluating each relationship for improvement. “Are you a time-plus or a time-sink?” you coo at your baby who breathes as if each one is guaranteed.

10. They say that they do not track your time, but you are sure that eyes follow you down the hallway. Your manager always knows when you have taken a lunch break even when he is not in the office. You wave at the ceiling before you leave, and make sure to not use the full hour.

11. The office is on fire. Numbers are in the red and layoffs loom. To appease them, the younger and older employees get sacrificed. You can still remember their cries as the flames licked their feet.

The pivot frees up space for a meditation room. The health and wellness coach they hire preaches more breathing and letting it go: ‘All feeling is temporary.’

The 9 Worst Things We Have Witnessed in Open-Plan Office Spaces

The unpleasant experience of working in an open-plan office space.

By The Editors

Open plan office spaces are pretty hip these days. Cubicle-free desk arrangements encourage employees to communicate out loud and in direct sight of one another, giving the impression of an inclusive, democratic, and youthful company.

But with the lack of offices and walls comes an obvious lack of privacy. While some have responded to this by moving their personal business to the seclusion of a closed room or restroom, others have embraced the public nature of these spaces by going public with their once-private acts.

We here at High-Strung have all experienced working in an open plan office space at one point or another, and we are here to tell you: it gets real unpleasant real fast.

Here are nine of the worst things we have seen and experienced.

1. One of us noticed a man flossing his teeth in the office. While walking around. Barefoot.

2. Personal boundary issues are amplified —discussing your medical history with your proctologist? Yelling at the delivery person who forgot to bring extra soy sauce? A fight with your partner? Why book a conference room when you can horrify all your coworkers instead?

3. We didn’t know how vigorously someone could pick their nose.

4. Your headphones might obscure the sounds around you, but they don’t save us from your disgusting wet lip-smacking while you savor every bite of your lunch. We hate you.

5. We can’t hate that hard on wedgie picking. We’ve all been there.

6. A collection of half-drunk cups that are slowly piling up into an ominous mountain.

7. Seriously why is this one patch of carpet so wet?

8. Sometimes working with older people in an open office means they don’t understand how volume works through their headphones and you get free access to whatever they’re listening to on their lunch break —which is usually Rachel Maddow.

9. Shared office space means sharing. But why is it always a dude who thinks it’s acceptable to fill the shared trash can with his plastic bottles and smelly leftovers? Just saying dudes are gross.