Modern Primate

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Whitney Phillips

Whitney Phillips


35 posts

  1. ring ring

    One of the things people tend to assume about established technologies is that they’re not making any assumptions. Knowing how to use a telephone is such an obvious thing, people think, if they ever bother thinking about the telephone at all, because why would they, it’s such a natural part of human life, right? WRONG, says Claude Fischer, who reminds us in America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940 that the telephone was something people had to learn, which itself was something the people selling the telephone had to teach, and later something advertisers and marketers had react to when people began adopting the new technologies in unexpected ways.

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  2. dog park baby dangle

    Since adopting our 5 month-old rescue puppy Nathan, Chris and I have spent a great deal of time at the local dog parks. Over the months we have met a number of interesting characters, most of whom fall into 10 basic categories.

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  3. ill schaden your freude

    In the wake of yesterday’s thorough trouncing of the Lemon Republican Party, people—specifically liberals—have been throwing the word “Schadenfreude” around with finger-tenting aplomb. Shortly after midnight on Election Day, for example, Daily Kos published an image of a bottle of “Tears of Impotent Rage” captioned with the phrase “Drink All You Want” and simply titled “Schadenfreude.” Talking Points Memo proclaimed as much in its November 7 headline, which states that “Liberal Schadenfreude Hits Impossible Heights as Results Pour In,” a point a simple Twitter search of the word immediately confirms.

    But is Schadenfreude all that’s going on here? My vote is for not exactly!!

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  4. true blood reddit troll

    I recently got into a discussion with my friend and former dissertation advisor about my strong and ever-growing antipathy towards Reddit. She described my feelings as “perplexing,” doubtlessly because I’ve been accused on more than one occasion and by more than one person (including her, in the nicest and most constructive ways possible) of being something of an apologist for trolls. Consequently I can see why it might seem odd that I’d maintain an uneasy ambivalence towards trolling but be rabidly judgmental about a site like Reddit, which is constantly being lauded (and lauding itself) for democratizing the internet, saving the world from SOPA, and delivering pizzas to the needy, all done for the loves (which I’ve just decided is the whiteknight equivalent of the lulz).

    The thing is, though, Reddit irritates me. But not for the obvious reasons, namely the shameful number of subreddits that are either devoted to or permissive of rape jokes, racism, mysogyny, jailbait porn, etc. These things are objectively and demonstrably gross, and in the case of human shitbags Violentacrez and CreeperComforts, which our Chris Menning discussed earlier, outright illegal. The thing is, the site is large, and therefore contains multitudes. Just because some users are shitty doesn’t and shouldn’t mean the whole site is shitty. Read More »

  5. advice dog president featured

    Oh my gosh everybody, were you watching the debates when [EVENT] happened? No, I wasn’t either, but I was on [SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE]. My feed totally blew up when [CANDIDATE] [VERBED] that [NOUN]. Everything I saw was either a .gif of [CANDITATE] [VERBING], or something from meme generator with [CANDIDATE] all like “[CAPTION].” The whole thing was so [ADJECTIVE]! Even my [OLD PERSON] posted something about it. I was like, [OLD PERSON], how did you hear about [EVENT]?? It only happened 5 minutes ago! And [OLD PERSON] was like, “I follow [CORPORATE MEDIA OUTLET] on [SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE]. Can you believe that [CANDIDATE] really [VERBED]?” I was like “[INITIALISM]“!

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  6. nathan water bowl 2

    As chronicled here, here, and here, Chris and I recently adopted a puppy named Nathan. I’ve lived with dogs all my life (I direct you to a video of my family dogs dancing for bacon), so I went into the adoption process knowing that our puppy, no matter the breed or sex, was going to require a fair amount of time and effort. I was not however prepared for the amount of effort little Nathan would require. And with good reason, since Nathan is a Boxer/Pitt Bull mix, and is absolutely everything one would expect from that breed—the good and the…let’s say difficult.

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  7. hot topic bro

    Recently there has been some talk about the current and future state of meme culture, or ROFL culture, or whatever the kids are calling it these days (Facebook?). While there is no consensus on how best to interpret the emerging data, one thing most ROFL-types can agree on is that the memescape of 2012 is a far cry from the memescape of 2008. Exactly how, exactly why, and exactly what these changes mean have proven to be a much more vexing set of questions.

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  8. RNC white crowd

    Last night, Baratunde Thurston decided to count the number of black people attending the Republican National Convention (SPOILER ALERT: there weren’t very many). As Thurston explains:

    Obviously, I needed a hashtag, and #blackcount, #blackGOPcensus, and #negrorollcall were all boring. Inspired by the Food Spotting app, I went with #negrospotting. It rolls nicely off the tongue and clearly communicated my activities. Besides, if you’ve ever been the minority in the room (white people too), you know you’ve probably counted members of your own population. I just wanted to add a unique branding and some methodological rigor to the generally implicit practice in which we all engage.

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  9. redditors

    “High emotions, inside jokes, and cultish reverence for one interest above all: When you’re inside a fandom, it’s as if you’ve found your long lost people. But to outsiders, fan enthusiasm and rage can be truly insufferable.”

    Earlier today, the Daily Dot posted an article about the 10 worst fandoms as picked by Reddit. The short answer is “all of them,” with dishonorable mentions going to Juggalos, youth cannabis culture, Anime fans, and a handful of other interests that won’t get you upvotes strike Reddit as annoying, including memes and anti-fans. Because Reddit, Reddit is above all that nonsense. “If I ever hear anyone say ‘le’ or ‘me gusta’ in real life, I am going to run them down with my car, then post it to Reddit for karma,” Lauren Rae Orsini quoted Redditor Chakote as saying. Also, people who spend time bitching about the people they hate, that’s just obnoxious! As dinoswithjetpacks notes, his attention likely split between this comment and a meme he’s making for r/athiesm,  “What annoys me the most is the anti-fanbases. People glorifying the fact that they DON’T like something that’s popular.” That is very funny irony, you two!

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