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Aysha Harun Wants To Change The Way We Talk About Makeup & Muslim Women

Aysha Harun Wants To Change The Way We Talk About Makeup & Muslim Women

appearance by Aysha Harun.

Naked Truths is a series where we ask cultural influencers, makeup artists, and badass women about their relationship with self-confidence while they remove their makeup.

YouTuber Aysha Harun used to look at makeup as a means to cover up the

birthmark

on her nose. “I used to be very embarrassed to go outside without makeup,” she says, adding that she once considered getting it removed. But those days are long gone and Harun now feels just as confident going makeup-free as she does wearing her go-to glam of foundation, brows, lashes, and nude lips.

Harun’s love for beauty inspired her to become a content creator with nearly 300k subscribers

on YouTube

and 150k followers on Instagram. It’s through these channels that she’s able to show off her passion for beauty, and also educate her followers about what it’s like being a makeup-loving Black Muslim woman who chooses to wear a hijab. “Although there has been a lot of

amazing, beautiful representation

, we definitely have a long way to go,” she says. “People always say, ‘Well, if you’re wearing the hijab, why are you wearing makeup?’ I wear makeup because it makes me feel beautiful… because I enjoy it.”

As much as Harun loves to apply makeup, she also relishes in the ritual of removing it after a long day. “I feel that it’s very therapeutic for me,” she says. That feeling makes sense considering her luxurious nine-step regimen. Luckily for us, Harun is spilling every single step — from

double-cleansing

to layering on multiple

serums—

in the video above. On top of that, she also gets real about representation of Black Muslim girls in the media, colorism, and her biggest makeup regret from high school. Press play to learn more.

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Dave: ‘Black is confusing… where does the line start and stop?’

Dave: ‘Black is confusing… where does the line start and stop?’

Before I meet Dave, rapper, musician, singer, songwriter, award-winner, straight-in-at-Number-Oner, irregular-regular 20-year-old from Streatham, I am allowed to hear his new album. This is a big deal. In fact, it’s such a big deal that Dave’s PR sits in with me when I listen – not to monitor my reaction, but because the album has been kept in such secrecy that he hasn’t heard it yet either. We sit, notebooks out, while a nice woman called Ruby from Dave’s management team plays the 11-track album from her laptop.

Dave’s album is also a big deal because, over the past four years, he’s zoomed from an unknown 16-year-old rap sensation to a platinum-selling artist who, so far, has only released singles (11, not counting special appearances on other people’s), plus two EPs, Six Paths and Game Over. His fans have been clamouring for this LP, bombarding him on social media for over a year.

Although Dave – full name David Orobosa Omoregie – is usually classed as a rapper, he also makes pop, grime and Afrobeats: hits such as No Words (featuring MoStack) showcase not only his gift for a tune, but his decent singing voice; Wanna Know was only out for five weeks before Drake remixed it and added a verse; Funky Friday, with Fredo, beat Calvin Harris and Sam Smith to go straight in at No 1 last year.

But it’s his less poppy, more serious stuff that I like. His words are lyrical and technical, clever and moving, with a melancholic heart that comes not just from the minor chords he plays on the piano. Several of his songs seem almost suffused with pain. Question Time, which directly addresses Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and David Cameron, moves through NHS funding, Trump and Grenfell, and won him an Ivor Novello. My 19th Birthday is regretful and complicated: “They tell you that home’s where the heart is, but I got a hole where my heart is.”

There is sunshine, though, as well as shade, sometimes within the same track: last year’s Hangman (my favourite) is beautiful, economic – “between stopping it and living it I’m sitting in the thick of it” – and has a little jazzy outro that actually makes you laugh when you hear it. (In the video for Hangman, Dave’s friends do just this: filming was the first time they’d heard the track, and when the outro is played they start giggling and dancing around.)

Anyway: the album. Entitled Psychodrama, the cover features a blue-tinted painting of Dave with his head in (blue) flames – appropriate imagery for an artist who has so much firing in his brain. Fraser T Smith, veteran of Stormzy and Adele, is a producer; other producers include long-standing collaborator 169 (who’s worked with Headie One, Big Zuu, Jme) and Nana Rogues (Tinie Tempah, Drake).

After we hear it, Ruby, the PR and I, plus the head of the PR company, all hop in a cab to the Observer office for the interview and photoshoot. This morning, Dave has been at designer Ozwald Boateng’s studio, getting fitted for a suit, and we were told he would be late; in fact, he’s already sitting quietly in reception with his friend Justin (Juss), who comes with him everywhere. Dave’s two managers then turn up too. By the time we go into the photo studio, we’re eight-strong. (“More than when we had Kendrick Lamar,” someone says later.) Among this mad throng, Dave himself is low-key, polite, in baseball cap and puffa. He is unfazed by the scruffiness of the photo studio. He has a serious face, a quiet voice. When he smiles, he shows tough metal teeth, but this somehow makes him look even younger. If you give him a compliment, he says “Thank you”, and puts a fist on his heart.

Once everyone has stopped bustling about and left the photography studio, we perch on high seats and talk Psychodrama. Making it, says Dave, took a lot out of him. (He works hard on his songs: he has called them “gold or silver, something rare or precious”.) He started it on 23 January 2018 (the date opens the album), and finished it last month. So, one year. A year when his life was pretty busy – Hangman came out at the beginning, Funky Friday in October, plus he appeared on Avelino’s U Can Stand Up and tried some acting – and he felt changed by the end of it. He hopes the progression is clear: “From the start, when I was more reluctant to speak, to the end, which is embracing the idea that it’s OK to find out a bit about yourself.”

You could call Psychodrama a concept album: the first track is called Psycho, the last Drama, and throughout there is the (acted) voice of a psychotherapist – or “psychodrama-thist”, as Dave says to me – talking to Dave as though he’s in a session, encouraging him to open up about his problems. The album has a three-act structure: act one he defines as “environment”; act two “relationships”; act three “social compass”.

Act one, then. Dave in his environment, as represented by tracks Psycho (“I ain’t psycho, but my life is”), Streatham (self-explanatory) and Black. Black is the first single from the album, and it’s powerful; both angry and celebratory, with some strong lines. “Black is stepping in for your mother because your father’s gone… You don’t know the truth about your race cos they erasing it… Representing countries that never even existed while your grandmother was living.” (Some Radio 1 listeners have complained about Black’s “negativity”; DJs Annie Mac and Greg James took them to task.) Dave recorded it towards the end of the album process: he’d meant to make an upbeat tune, but instead he wrote a darker instrumental (he usually works on the music before the lyrics: it sets his mood). The words took him some time, as he did a lot of research, including talking with a Ghanaian friend who’d been tracing his family tree (the friend discovered that he was, in fact, Egyptian).

“That track is my experience,” says Dave. “Me being south London, black, Nigerian, that’s what I’m mainly basing it on. It’s a good representation of what I associate with and everything that I think, but I don’t think that it’s universal for the whole black experience, because there’s too many different races and dynamics within the race of black. For a black person who’s Senegalese, growing up in France, or a New York Jamaican, that’s a completely different relationship with being black and how you might be accepted in that culture or that world. Everyone’s experience is different. Especially black women and black men.”

Despite his research, even now, he isn’t sure. “Black is confusing. Where does the line start and stop with what is black and what isn’t black?” He feels as though society lumps all black people together, and he wonders how carefully people are looking. “People that are mixed-race, or, imagine being from Sri Lanka or Bangladesh, people might say you’re black but your features are so non-black, like you’ve got straight hair, you’ve got like a sharper nose, or such. No matter what people can see, whether black African, black Jamaican, black British, black American people… they just say it’s one thing.”

Back to the album. Act two, the middle section, is catchy and poppy. Act three is interesting, with a couple of tracks that call back to Streatham, but with more insight: “You see a gangster, I see insecurity.” There’s an 11-minute track called Lesley that’s like a movie in song form: “A story about someone suffering a complete loss of character by being with someone that isn’t good for them,” says Dave. And then Voices, the penultimate track, which I assumed was about a relationship – “I fell in love with optimism” – is, it turns out, about Dave himself. “That whole track is metaphorical,” he says, “but it’s about a constant chase for happiness. So when I’m saying, ‘All my life, I hear voices when I sleep, and they say, “You’re everything I need”,’ the everything I need is myself. Inner happiness. What everyone’s looking for.”

Drama, the final track, sits slightly separately from the others. It features a recording of a phone call from Chris, the younger of Dave’s two older brothers, who’s in prison serving a life sentence. “The concept of psychodrama actually came from the type of therapy Chris has been having in prison,” says Dave. “The whole idea for the album, everything’s based off him, and that song is a conversation between me and him.” In the track, Dave uses Chris’s words to create lyrics. Chris mentions living on the edge, like a house on a cliff, which Dave runs with; and “forget the other brother that was even bigger, we were figures just trying to figure out if we could be a figure” – he says that’s Chris’s too.

The lyrics that stuck with me, I say, are “I don’t have a vision of a marriage or a wedding ring, world domination in music or it ain’t anything. Obsessed.” And “I learned all the time the separation issues I described are probably the reason that I struggled feeling anything.”

“Well,” he says, “those are the truth.”

Though they are close now, when they were growing up, Dave and his brothers weren’t, particularly. Ben was eight years older than Dave, Chris five, so they were always at different stages in their lives: one at college, one at secondary school, one in primary. Their dad wasn’t around to bring them closer – “I didn’t get a chance to have any memories with him” – and their mum often worked day and evenings, as a nurse and cleaner, to support her family.

Dave was academic and quite serious as a kid, and when I ask him about childish things – hobbies, posters on the wall – he simply can’t answer me. “I wouldn’t have thought to go and get a poster,” he says. “I just sort of existed. I was in this long trance of just waking up, going to school, coming back. I never really had a crazy outward personality, I only found that when I was 15, 16.”

Actually, his mum decided not to let Dave out after school from the age of 11. That was when Chris was sent to prison (he was involved in the killing of Sofyen Belamouadden), followed by Ben, for robbery, a few years later. Dave’s mum reacted by keeping her youngest son at home as much as she could. (Chris agreed; he would phone Dave to check.) It was hard for the young Dave, and not just because he didn’t go out socially. He would visit his brothers in prison – they were moved all over the place – and absorb his mum’s trauma. “I don’t know how she felt,” he says, now. “Too many different things.” He grew up quickly, though he feels that would have happened anyway, just living in London.

“It’s not the same as having a friend in prison,” he says. “Where it’s my brother, the impact that it has on my mum, on the rest of us, the impact it has on anything good… I never want to sound like I’m speaking about prison and I’m crying or moping. But it was definitely a massive knock-on effect for all of us. It’s been a tough journey for everyone involved.”

Trapped indoors as he was, young Dave tried a bit of rapping, putting out a track when he was 13. (“Everyone hated it,” he laughs. “So I retired. From 13 to 15, that was my retirement.”) Then, when he was 14, his mum got him a digital keyboard, and he decided to learn how to play. He liked film soundtracks, the tunes from anime, and he fancied trying to make music. So he challenged his friend Kyle to learn piano with him. Each week, they would each choose a piece – Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, or a song from an anime show – and then track down the sheet music online, learn it, practise it and compete with each other as to who played the best song. Dave was playing piano for four or five hours every night, encouraged by his music teacher at school. (He’s still close to Kyle, and Kyle plays on Psychodrama.)

When he was 16, on the first day he went to sixth-form college in Richmond (to study philosophy, ethics, law and sound design), Dave released a freestyle on rap station Bl@ckbox. Within months he was on Jamal Edwards’s influential SBTV; a year later, sampled by Drake. His life changed.

Last summer, when Ben came out of prison after four years, Dave was able to give him money; he’d had nothing when Ben went in. Now, he’s planning to buy a new house, for him and his mum. “I was always going to move with my mum,” he says. “It was always going to happen.” He wants her to give up work, but she won’t. Not until she’s 60 (she’s 55 now).

There is a lot going on. Dave’s been trying his hand at acting, which he enjoyed, though he found it hard to adjust to at first. “I hated the lack of flexibility,” he says. “They pick you up 5am, and you got to be there, you got to do makeup, got to do costume. If you’re late, there’s people that you answer to. It’s like being at school again. And other things, like getting used to the fact that you’re actually a very small part of a big moving picture. Or, like, I spent my whole life looking into the lens of a camera. And then to be told you can’t look at the lens.”

He’s been getting wound up about football. He supports Manchester United, because his brothers had already taken Chelsea and Arsenal, and got some stick online over United’s recent match against Paris Saint-Germain, as he’d made a track with AJ Tracey about Thiago Silva, a PSG player. “I’m actually connected to football way harder than people think. So I get really rattled, and I have to come off Twitter.”

As you might guess from his track Question Time, Dave is interested in politics. He’s funny and engaged on Brexit (he voted Remain, because of the European Court of Human Rights). He has friends who voted Leave – “Kyle did! Wasteman!” – but he understands why. “Everyone pretends,” he says. “You might say, ‘This is what is best for the country,’ but it’s not ever about what’s best for the country. It’s what’s best for you inside of the country.” He sees this in domestic politics, too. “You might say, ‘I’m going to vote for Labour because they going to make the public sector a lot more funded and blah-blah-blah.’ Really, it’s going to make your life easier. But if you’re making tens of millions a year, you know that if someone from Labour gets voted in, you might be getting super taxed, so you support the other group.”

And perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s been considering prison reform.

“When you strip it back,” he says, “we’re all just humans at the end of the day. Where wrong is done, wrong needs to be punished, but there’s a lot of things that I see. Prison hosts a lot of normal people, a lot of family men who were caught in a tight situation or in a dark place. I don’t think that one moment in people’s life should define them. Within reason: I emphasise that. It’s difficult, because it’s on a case-by-case basis and some people don’t want to hear about reform with certain crimes. But people that are in those positions [in prison] need an incentive for reform, and sometimes necessary support to go out and better themselves and be more functional members of society. If everyone’s on the same page, that is the end goal for people that do wrong, isn’t it? For them to come out and not do wrong again.”

When he was younger, and getting into the odd bit of trouble, Dave had a few therapy sessions himself. He understood why, but, as he gets older, he thinks that therapy “isn’t necessarily always in the form of someone sitting down with a notepad. It might be a friend who you call in the night.” He used to beat himself up about stuff, or want to speak about it online, but he’s a little easier on himself now. He’s cutting down on the internet chat, on explaining himself for video platforms. He’s clear in his lyrics, he thinks. I agree: Dave’s words are a thing of beauty. His art explains his life, sometimes in a way he can’t completely understand.

“Sometimes I sit down and I think ‘Do I regret this? Do I regret that?’ And I feel like everything makes this snowball effect, you know? If you regret something, it’s good because it just means that it’s something that’s affected you enough for you to stop and think… There’s a reason that everything happens.”

He quotes a lyric to me, from another rapper, about the Garden of Eden. He loves this lyric. “Because everything wouldn’t be everything,” says Dave, “if the Garden of Eden went right.”

Psychodrama is released on Friday on Neighbourhood. Psychodrama: the tour starts in Dublin on 9 April and ends in London on 3 May

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Pinterest has a perfect response to harmful misinformation

Pinterest has a perfect response to harmful misinformation

Programming note: The Interface will be off Thursday as I finish up a project that I will share with you next week.

Since the reckoning over social networks began in 2016, a popular genre of content has emerged that I like to call Hey, These Search Results Are Bad. This genre of story comprises three parts:

  1. The reporter searches for something using a social network’s search engine.
  2. The search results are bad.
  3. The reporter writes a story about how the search results are bad.

Representative stories from the Hey, These Search Results Are Bad vault would include Here’s how YouTube is spreading conspiracy theories about the Las Vegas Shooting, by Charlie Warzel; As a conspiracy theory video spread after Texas shooting, YouTube works to tweak its algorithm, by Hamza Shaban; and YouTube promoted a video that falsely attacked a Parkland student. How did this happen?, by Abby Ohlheiser.

You may have noticed that YouTube figures prominently in these stories. As Kevin Roose noted yesterday, YouTube and conspiracy are linked at the hip. And while Google is paying more attention to YouTube search results than ever before, there’s still plenty of bad to be found there.

Clearly, certain subjects — particularly mass shootings and, as we talked about yesterday, vaccines — lead to more stories about bad search results than others. And so I was delighted to see that Pinterest had taken note of this phenomenon — and taken a surprisingly bold step to protect against it. Here are Robert McMillan and Daniela Hernandez in the Wall Street Journal:

Pinterest has stopped returning results for searches related to vaccinations, a drastic step the social-media company said is aimed at curbing the spread of misinformation but one that demonstrates the power of tech companies to censor discussion of hot-button issues.

Most shared images on Pinterest relating to vaccination cautioned against it, contradicting established medical guidelines and research showing that vaccines are safe, Pinterest said. The image-searching platform tried to remove the anti-vaccination content, a Pinterest spokeswoman said, but has been unable to remove it completely.

In other words, Pinterest realized that it had what researchers danah boyd and Michael Golebiewski have called a “data void.” The researcher Renee DiResta summarizes it here:

A situation where searching for answers about a keyword returns content produced by a niche group with a particular agenda. It isn’t just Google results—keyword voids are happening on social too. The most shared articles about vitamin K on Facebook are anti-vax, and the CrowdTangle analytics platform shows those articles are reaching an audience of millions. YouTube results are no better; several of the top 10 results feature notable immunology expert Alex Jones.

In 2017, BuzzFeed reported that Pinterest was awash in bad health information. To its great credit, Pinterest realized the potential for harm, and rather than wring its hands over the rights of fringe anti-vaccination groups to take over their viral machinery, Pinterest simply shut them down. As the story notes, users can still pin fringe images to their own boards, but they can no longer use Pinterest for free viral distribution. This is an approach that some call “freedom of speech versus freedom of reach.” You can say what you want, but Pinterest has no obligation to share it with the wider world.

And while I’m gushing, may I just recommend this quote from the Journal’s story from Pinterest’s public policy and social impact manager, Ifeoma Ozoma:

“It’s better not to serve those results than to lead people down what is like a recommendation rabbit hole.”

If you want to know what taking care of your community looks like — if you want to know what social responsibility for a tech platform looks like — it looks a lot like what Ozoma is saying right there.

Now, I’m sure some Googlers are reading this story and saying to themselves: that’s fine for Pinterest, but this is YouTube we’re talking about. YouTubers go to war at the mere suggestion that the site might diminish their number of views; the idea that the company would hide entire categories from search results could trigger some sort of apocalypse.

But what if a kind of apocalypse … were happening at YouTube already? My colleague Julia Alexander has been chronicling a very bad week at the video site, in which one man’s search for the phrase “bikini haul” took him down a rabbit hole leading to a host of child exploitation videos:

The videos aren’t pornographic in nature, but the comment sections are full of people time stamping specific scenes that sexualize the child or children in the video. Comments about how beautiful young girls are also litter the comment section.

The reaction was swift. Epic Games (maker of Fortnite), Nestlé, and Disney are among the companies who have pulled their advertising from the platform. YouTube creators are bracing for themselves for what, by Alexander’s count, would be the fifth “adpocalypse” — a time in which revenue dries up, possibly for many months, as advertisers flee to safer ground.

There’s a world in which YouTube proactively sought out bad search results and data voids, blocking access while it works to root out exploitative content. Such a drastic move would surely inspire howls of outrage — and legitimate concerns about the huge power that the company has to set the terms of public debate.

And yet I can’t help but be inspired by the move Pinterest took when confronted with the same question. The only folks who lose in this decision are ones who, if they had their way, would trigger a global health crisis. Here’s to Ozoma and her team for standing up to them.

Democracy

Can Washington keep watch over Silicon Valley? The FTC’s Facebook probe is a high-stakes test.

Tony Romm examines the belief — sometimes espoused in this very newsletter! — that the Federal Trade Commission is become ineffectual and unequal to the task of regulating tech giants:

Nearly a year after announcing an investigation into the incident, the FTC is negotiating with Facebook over a fine that could be billions of dollars, according to multiple people familiar with the probe who spoke on the condition of anonymity last week because they were not authorized to discuss the issues. Experts say the government has to seize on the opportunity to send a message — to Facebook and its peers — that it hears consumers’ frustrations and is willing to challenge the tech industry’s data-collection practices.

“The Facebook inquiry is a basic test of the credibility of the FTC to be an effective privacy enforcement agency,” said William Kovacic, a former Republican commissioner who teaches at George Washington University. “Anything other than a significant penalty will be seen as a form of policy failure and will really impede the agency’s ability to function in the future.”

Lawmakers want to question Facebook about the privacy of groups – The Verge

Colin Lecher reports that after a complaint to the FTC regarding the safety of health information in private groups, lawmakers plan to investigate:

Now, a letter from lawmakers on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is questioning whether Facebook users were “potentially misled” about what data they would reveal by joining a closed group. The letter, addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, questions whether the company “may have failed to properly notify group members that their personal health information may have been accessed by health insurance companies and online bullies, among others.” The letter requests a staff briefing about the issues raised in the complaint.

Google and Facebook have become “antithetical to democracy,” says The Age of Surveillance Capitalism author Shoshana Zuboff

Zuboff, whose new book offers a strong critique of Facebook and Google, tells Kara Swisher that data factories like theirs produce a dangerous “asymmetry of knowledge.”

There are just a couple problems: One, when customers are fully informed about how their data is being used, they don’t like it. So, companies like Google and Facebook have decided to “take without asking,” Zuboff said. And whoever has all that data has a tremendous amount of power — so much so that the same people who unwittingly provided more data than they realized to tech companies can then be manipulated toward commercial and political outcomes.

“Right now, surveillance capitalists sit on a huge asymmetry of knowledge,” she said. “They have an asymmetry of knowledge, a concentration of knowledge unlike anything ever seen in human history … We have an institutional disfiguring of these huge asymmetries of knowledge and power which are antithetical to democracy.

Twitter Revises Data on Russian Trolls and Their 2017 Activity

Twitter now says that what it previously identified as Russian trolls were more likely Venezuelan trolls, Ben Elgin reports:

On Feb. 8, Twitter removed 228 accounts from the Russian IRA dataset because the social-media company now believes these accounts were operated by a different trolling network located in Venezuela. “We initially misidentified 228 accounts as connected to Russia,” Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity, wrote in an online post. “As our investigations into their activity continued, we uncovered additional information allowing us to more confidently associate them with Venezuela.”

Although Twitter’s data don’t reveal the names of accounts, researchers at Clemson University analyzed the social-media company’s changes and said they involve accounts that mostly came online in mid-2017. The researchers, who have constructed and published their own database of the Russian troll farm’s output, said those accounts were central in what had appeared to be a surprising surge in post-election activity that was mis-attributed to the Russian troll farm.

WhatsApp is at risk in India. So are free speech and encryption.

Kurt Wagner goes long on the proposal that could end encryption in India — and perhaps around the world:

“I think honestly the biggest [technology] story around the world is India trying to bring these intermediary guidelines,” said Jayshree Bajoria, a researcher with the nonprofit organization Human Rights Watch, in an interview with Recode. “We are talking about China-style surveillance here.”

This proposed law, known colloquially as Intermediary Guidelines, isn’t specific to WhatsApp. If passed, it would apply to all internet companies that host, publish, or store user information, including social networks, messaging platforms, and even internet service providers.

Elsewhere

The Galaxy S10 will have an Instagram mode built into its camera

Here’s an interesting growth strategy from Instagram: a return to the days of preloaded software. From Chaim Gartenberg:

Samsung is partnering with Instagram to add a new “Instagram mode” directly to the native camera app on the newly announced Galaxy S10. “We’ve worked together to rethink the experience of Instagram on the S10,” said Instagram’s head of product Adam Mosseri onstage at the Galaxy Unpacked event.

Smartphones, teens, and depression: Should we panic? Not yet.

Brian Resnick examines the link between smartphones, young people, and mental health. He finds that there’s not much that we can say definitively:

The studies we have so far on the relationship between digital technology use and mental health — for both teens and adults — are more than inconclusive. “The literature is a wreck,” said Anthony Wagner, chair of the department of psychology at Stanford University. “Is there anything that tells us there’s a causal link? That our media use behavior is actually altering our cognition and underlying neurological function or neurobiological processes? The answer is we have no idea. There’s no data.”

Several researchers I spoke to — even those who believe the links between digital technology use and mental health problems are overhyped — all think this is an important question worth studying, and gathering conclusive evidence on.

At Harvard Law, Zittrain and Zuckerberg discuss encryption, ‘information fiduciaries’ and targeted advertisements

For his first personal internet challenge Mark Zuckerberg of the year, the Facebook CEO sat down with Harvard Prof. Jonathan Zittrain for a friendly discussion about the internet and society. You can read a transcript here; I have no issue with these events but stand by my opinion last summer that we tend to overrate the importance of what the CEO of a tech platform says about it.

When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online

Taylor Lorenz explores the phenomenon of children becoming aware that their parents have been posting photos and stories about them to the public internet since birth. Which is apparently called “sharenting.” A word I do not feel great about!

Cara and other tweens say they hope to lay down ground rules for their parents. Cara wants her mom to tell her the next time she posts about her, and the 11-year-old would like veto power over any photo before it goes up. “My friends will always text or tell me, like, ‘OMG that pic your mom posted of you is so cute,’ and I’ll get really self-conscious,” she said. Hayden, a 10-year-old, said he realized several years ago that his parents used a dedicated hashtag including his name on photos of him. He now monitors the hashtag to make sure they don’t post anything embarrassing.

Once kids have that first moment of realization that their lives are public, there’s no going back. Several teens and tweens told me this was the impetus for wanting to get their own social-media profiles, in an effort to take control of their image. But plenty of other kids become overwhelmed and retreat. Ellen said that anytime someone has a phone out around her now, she’s nervous that her photo could be taken and posted somewhere. “Everyone’s always watching, and nothing is ever forgotten. It’s never gone,” she said.

Snap’s AR milestone

Here’s an interesting nugget in an otherwise anodyne item about Snap being an innovative company:

In December 2017, the company launched Lens Studio, a tool to publish and share augmented reality experiences created in-house and by the Snapchat community. By the end of 2018, over 300,000 Lenses had been created through Lens Studio, and those Lenses were viewed by Snapchatters more than 35 billion times. Over 70 million people use AR on Snapchat every day for an average of 3 minutes per person, making the platform the largest and most engaged global audience for these new kinds of experiences.

Twitter gets Chrissy Teigen to spill her Twitter secrets

Twitter released the best ad for its service to date last week — a zippy video Q&A with power user Chrissy Teigen. You can find it here. It’s notable for how (1) it makes Twitter seem like it’s mostly just a lot of fun, which it often is; and (2) it’s the first Twitter ad to be made by people who seem like they actually use Twitter. A huge leap forward.

The curse of the Twitter reply guy

Chloe Bryan profiles a “mostly harmless but decidedly annoying phenomenon. A lot of people, mostly women, have noticed that one or two men always, no matter what, reply to their tweets.” She goes on:

These men are colloquially known as “reply guys.” While no reply guy is the same — each reply guy is annoying in his own way — there are a few common qualities to watch out for. In general, reply guys tend to have few followers. Their responses are overly familiar, as if they know the person they’re targeting, though they usually don’t. They also tend to reply to only women; the most prolific reply guys fill the role for dozens of women trying to tweet in peace.

It’s usually pretty easy to ID a reply guy. The sheer volume of responses is a reliable indicator. But there’s still some literature on the subject. In a 2018 piece for McSweeney’s, for instance, Emlyn Crenshaw wrote an extremely funny Reply Guy Constitution, which focuses above all else on men’s commitment to “weigh in on women’s thoughts at every possible opportunity.”

TikTok Has Created A Whole New Kind Of Cool Girl Called Egirls

Lauren Strapagiel covers the TikTok-centric phenomenon of the “egirl” — “a new kind of cool girl who was born and lives on the platform. She’s funny, she’s cute, she’s totally ’90s, and she knows exactly how to play with expectations.”

Egirls have become a very visible demographic on TikTok — and, it appears, only on TikTok — consisting mainly of teenagers. The traits of an egirl are as ironic as they are oddly specific.

The makeup is the most iconic part of the look — thick black eyeliner with wings and cute little shapes drawn with the same eyeliner under the eyes. Usually the shapes are hearts, but sometimes they’re dots or x’s, and they’re drawn with the sure hand of someone who grew up idolizing beauty bloggers. Across the cheeks and nose is a bright sweep of blush, with a touch of highlighter just on the button end, usually sitting above a septum piercing. Lips have either a clear gloss or a dark matte lipstick.

Launches

Twitter is launching a public test of its redesigned replies

Hey, I wrote this:

In October, Twitter said it is redesigning conversations on the platform in an effort to encourage friendlier and more useful discussions. Now the company is ready to test the redesign with a wider group of users, and will take applications from anyone who wants to try it out. Users are invited to apply at this link.

Improving Location Settings on Android

Android users of Facebook now have more granular control settings available to them.

Takes

Twitter Should Have Groups and Here Is How They Should Work

Rex Sorgatz has some strong ideas about how Twitter groups should work. His novel idea: to reclaim the hashtag:

Everyone has opened Twitter and been vexed by the flood of arbitrary tweets about The Bachelor finale or the NBA Finals. Yet everyone also has their version of The Bachelor finale or the NBA Finals — topics you yearn to discuss, but fear breach some unspoken etiquette about blasting tangential musings to everyone. (Some of you should fear this more!) Twitter Groups solves this problem: Scribble your witticisms into #TheBachelor and #NBAFinals, and you instantly cease annoying the 90% of your followers who have no interested in Colton or LeBron.

When you tweet from within a Group, your message is placed directly into the context of that Group. Those tweets are still public, in the sense that anyone can still find them, but they are suppressed from the main timeline, unless the viewer has also joined that Group. This serves the dual purpose of removing mass noise and encouraging niche conversation. Interactions become lighter, more intimate, more contextual.

And finally …

Zuckerberg, forgetting about Facebook’s Portal: ‘We definitely don’t want a society where there’s a camera in everyone’s living room’

The most memorable moment of Zuckerberg’s interview with Zittrain — for me, anyway — was this rather funny exchange. (CNBC really just gives away the whole thing in the headline, don’t they? I say bring back the curiosity gap!)

While talking about his desire to build more end-to-end encryption in Facebook’s services, Zuckerberg said, “I basically think that if you want to talk in metaphors, messaging is like people’s living room, and we definitely don’t want a society where there’s a camera in everyone’s living room.”

Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain, who hosted the discussion, pointed out that Facebook’s Portal is quite literally a camera in people’s living rooms.

It was a funny moment, but could have been worse for Facebook. At least Portal’s microphone is not a secret — which is more than we can say for this Nest device.

Talk to me

Send me tips, comments, questions, and non-polluted Pinterest pins: casey@theverge.com.

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My Strange Hero: Episodes 31-32 (Final)

My Strange Hero: Episodes 31-32 (Final)




My Strange Hero: Episodes 31-32 (Final)

by SailorJumun

It’s time to say goodbye to our strange hero, meaning it’s time to see whether or not he has to say goodbye to Seolsong High. He found his first love at this school, he rediscovered that love, and he met even more people that he’s come to love since. There’s a lot of history in this place, and he’s going to make sure it comes with a future as well.

 


EPISODE 31 RECAP

As Se-ho is confessing to Chairwoman Im’s crimes, Bok-soo bursts into the interrogation room and calls him out on lying. Bok-soo angrily calls Se-ho selfish, saying he’s only making the situation worse–if he takes the fall, then the school is right back in Im’s hands.

Se-ho looks up at Bok-soo, his expression more ashamed than ever. So when Bok-soo leaves, he decides to actually listen for once. He takes back his confession so he can tell the prosecutor what really happened.

When he leaves the interrogation, Se-ho finds Bok-soo waiting out in the hall, wanting to make sure he told the truth this time. Se-ho nods, but he warns Bok-soo that Im has the connections to shut down the school. Unfazed, Bok-soo turns to leave, saying, “It’s not over yet.”

Bok-soo and Soo-jung head to the Education Committee to submit their petitions, but they stop short when they see Teacher Park arguing with his superiors. The committee has already finalized the closing of Seolsong, and there’s nothing Park can say that will change their minds.

As a last resort, Soo-jung gathers the faculty and parents willing to protest in front of the school. The inspectors who will be selling the school arrive, but the protesters deny them entry, claiming that the school belongs to its students.

And inside, Bok-soo prepares his “secret weapon” in a plastic bag, telling his classmates that he’ll be using it in substitution for violence. Young-min informs them that it’s time, so Bok-soo grabs his weapon and leads the kids outside.

They get there just as Chairwoman Im shows up to express her (totally fake) sympathy. Before Im can push her way through the crowd, though, Bok-soo and the kids make their presence known and file down the stairs.

Bok-soo unleashes his weapon, throwing the plastic bag in the air and releasing a flurry of wildflower petals. Wow, what an entrance.

He makes his way to the front of the crowd and faces Im, suggesting she turn around and leave. He takes out a single wildflower and holds it out to her, asking one last time that she not step all over Seolsong’s flower-like students.

Im smirks and accepts the flower, only to drop it and step on it with her heel. She addresses the whole crowd, saying that Bok-soo ruined Seolsong’s good name and high standing. So, she continues, if they want someone to blame for shutting down the school, it should be him.

But Bok-soo argues that she’s the one hurting Seolsong, as well as Se-ho. Im snaps at him not to compare “that kid” to her school, and he shakes his head. “No, there’s nothing different,” he says. “It might seem like that on the outside, but they’re damaged on the inside.”

He tells her that Se-ho and Seolsong aren’t hers to throw away, but she won’t listen; she yells at the inspectors to do their job and get inside. So the students step forward and link arms to block their path.

The inspectors urge them to cooperate, but the students shout, “No! This is our school!” Following their cries, police cars pull up to the school, and the officers approach Im with an arrest warrant.

She reminds them that Se-ho confessed to the embezzlement and bribery, but the officers inform her that he changed his testimony. The officers grab hold of her, making her freak out and curse the kids for messing with her precious school.

Bok-soo then turns her attention to Do-hyun’s recording phone and says she’ll have plenty of viewers waiting to judge her. He concludes that it’s not Seolsong that needs to go away, but her, and bids her adieu.

After Im is dragged over to prison, the video of her screaming is all over the internet, with netizens shocked to see the real her.

The Seolsong students are watching the video as well, amazed at how cool they look, when Bok-soo comes running through to present the current standing of the national petition. And the kids are overjoyed to see that over 200,000 people have signed it. They’re so happy that they crowd Bok-soo and toss him in the air in celebration.

Sometime later, at the Kang home, Bok-soo and Soo-jung see Im’s arrest on the news. They learn that the Education Committee has acknowledged the growing petition and canceled the abolishment of Seolsong. While the gang is all smiles, Se-ho quietly watches the news in his now dark and empty house.

The next day, Se-ho visits his old office and runs into Teacher Park. He tells Park that he’ll be going abroad soon, and he has one last request: He wants Park to become the principal of Seolsong.

Park starts to say that he already has a job, but Se-ho insists that he’s much more suited being a teacher. At that, Park gives him a smile, grateful, which Se-ho returns.

As Se-ho is leaving the school grounds, Bok-soo catches up to him and asks if he’s running away again. Doesn’t he have more to say to him? Se-ho sadly notes that apologizing now won’t fix his mistakes.

While Bok-soo agrees, he’d still like some sort of explanation; he’d spent years wondering why Se-ho did what he did nine years ago. So Se-ho looks him in the eye and explains, “I wanted to be you. And I was so envious that I hated you.” He assures Bok-soo that he did nothing wrong and apologizes for being the bad guy all this time.

An angry Bok-soo punches Se-ho in the face, saying he’d do much worse but that it wouldn’t fix anything either. So instead, Bok-soo chooses not to forgive him. “But,” he continues, “you should forgive yourself. Since you’re the only one who knows your pain and misery.”

Bok-soo then tells Se-ho to get lost, muttering that he doesn’t care whether Se-ho lives well or not. He walks past, and Se-ho watches him leave with a small smile.

Time passes, and Teacher Park takes his place as Seolsong’s principal. While broadcasting, he promises his students and faculty that he will change Seolsong for good, giving everyone the fair opportunities that they deserve.

Everyone, from the Wildflower class to the Ivy class are excited for these changes. They smile as Teacher Park signs off with finger hearts and a big “I love you.” Haha, always full of cheese, this guy.

Se-ho meets with his mom in prison, and he’s disappointed when she immediately asks what his plan is to get her out.

He calmly answers that he has no plan; he only hopes that her time in prison will change her. In the meantime, Se-ho plans to make Seolsong a public school. He says his goodbyes, promising to return when she’s released, and Mom is so hysterical that a guard has to drag her back inside.

Back at school, Soo-jung waits up for Bok-soo, joking that he has such an awesome girlfriend. They get into their usual bickering before Soo-jung shyly admits she’s not good with compliments. Still, she wants to thank him for always coming back to her. Bok-soo just opens his arms wide, inviting her into a hug, and she gladly accepts.

EPISODE 32 RECAP

One year later. The students all gather for their graduation ceremony, excited to hear their oldest classmate speak. Bok-soo heads up to the stand (tripping, of course), wanting to tell them about adult life since he’s already experienced it.

He says that life can be hard, ruthless even, but he assures them that it is definitely worth living. And they should know that there will always be at least one person rooting for them.

“K. Revenge once said this,” he says. “Whatever you do, wherever you are, you deserve to be loved.” His classmates erupt into applause, with Young-min leaning over to Seung-woo to ask who K. Revenge is. “Kang Bok-soo,” Seung-woo replies, and they both smile up at their hyung.

After the ceremony, Bok-soo and In-ho meet with their moms and proudly present their diplomas. And if there wasn’t enough excitement already, So-jung gets a text saying that In-ho got accepted into college. Omg, yay!

Teacher Park breaks up their celebration to congratulate the boys and offer to take the family’s picture. But Vice Principal Song, kissing up to his new principal, takes the camera and urges Park to join them.

Later, Bok-soo meets up with Soo-jung, and he’s surprised when she shows up in her old school uniform. He asks what’s going on, and she beams, saying she wants to have a little graduation of their own.

Three more years pass, and we see Bok-soo walking to school–only now, he’s there as an art teacher. Teacher Kim catches him arriving late, however, and gets him in a headlock, so I guess not much has changed.

Bok-soo has his students draw a portrait, using Gyung-hyun as the model, and the female students pout that they’d rather draw him. Bok-soo shakes his head, warning them that their teacher already has a very pretty girlfriend.

Speaking of whom, Soo-jung heads into her third teacher’s interview this year. She explains the reason why she had to leave Seolsong, as well as the reason why she wants to be a teacher so badly.

Soo-jung starts to say that she was in charge of the “worst” students in the school. As she goes on, we see that In-ho and Jae-yoon are working for Gyung-hyun and that the “Your Favors” company has turned into “Your Own Business.” We then see that Shi-on is a makeup artist, and Seung-woo and Young-min work in the same court as a prosecutor and lawyer respectively.

“The school labelled them as hopeless students,” Soo-jung says, “but the more they were stepped on, the more they tried to prove the school wrong.” She knows she can teach her students beyond their textbooks, so she begs her interviewers to give her the chance to prove herself. She doesn’t feel too confident leaving the interview, but after some time, she receives a text saying she’s passed her entry exam.

Soo-jung calls Bok-soo to give him the good news, and Bok-soo immediately steps into Supportive Boyfriend mode. He has Gyung-hyun and Min-ji kidnap all the Wildflower kids (pfft, this never gets old), who willingly help to kidnap Teacher Park.

They all surprise Soo-jung with a party at the Kang restaurant, and everyone from the kids to Bok-soo’s family congratulate her on becoming a certified teacher again. Though she’s happy to see everyone, she’s disappointed to note that there’s no cake or gift, lol.

She learns that Teachers Ma and Jang are having a baby and that So-ra now writes romantic novels. In fact, So-ra’s latest story is based on Soo-jung’s romance, and it contains a steamy kiss scene behind a classroom door. Soo-jung and Bok-soo blush but laugh along with the rest of their friends.

That night, Gyung-hyun tells Bok-soo that he and Min-ji are getting married. But Min-ji states that she won’t marry someone who prints the wedding invites before proposing. She storms out, and Gyung-hyun merely says that she’ll be her nicer self tomorrow.

Se-ho’s mom is eventually released from prison, and Se-ho is there to greet her as promised. When she asks why he never called, he says that he needed time to forgive her.

Mom scoffs, saying it’s Se-ho who should be begging for forgiveness, but Se-ho isn’t hurt by this. He tells her that it doesn’t pain him to look at her anymore, so that means he’s changed.

“I believe that you’ll change someday,” Se-ho says, smiling faintly. “Just as an old friend of mine believed in me.” He’ll be waiting for that change, but for now, he bows and takes off. And this time, as Mom watches him leave, she looks more surprised than angry.

After another day at school, Bok-soo finds Soo-jung waiting up for him again. They slowly walk towards each other, each remembering all the times they’ve spent together.

When they finally reach each other, he takes hold of her hand (his ring still on her finger). Seeing her at Seolsong, he thinks that she definitely suits being a teacher. Now that she’s a teacher, though, she thinks she needs a new dream.

Bok-soo asks what that new dream might be, and she sweetly responds with, “Kang Bok-soo’s wife.” He grins from ear-to-ear and holds her hand even tighter.

We flash back to the day of Bok-soo’s graduation, when he and Soo-jung had gone out in their uniforms. They stopped at a black-and-white photo studio to get their picture taken together, and the photographer had asked what the occasion was.

They both answered, “Graduation,” before holding hands and giving the camera their biggest smiles.

  


COMMENTS

Aw, what a sweet ending to a sweet drama. I think time jumps are pretty easy to mess up, but I actually enjoyed that short glimpse of our characters one year later and then the longer glimpse three years later. It gave us the chance to have a big reunion, to see everyone settling into their lives, which tied things up nicely. Well… not everything, but I’ll get to that later.

I wasn’t expecting many surprises in this finale, so I liked the little details that they sprinkled in. Mainly, I just liked the fact that everyone remained so close after graduation. Bok-soo was working with Teacher Park, In-ho was working with Jae-yoon, Seung-woo was working with Young-min, and even So-ra was working with Do-hyun. How cool is that? Maybe not the most realistic but believable since the Wildflowers had developed such a tight bond with each other. I’d guessed that Bok-soo would become a teacher, but that didn’t seem realistic either until it was revealed he taught art. (Sorry, Bok-soo-yah, you’re just not that smart.) And again, that was believable since he’d shown talent with that sketch of Soo-jung. More importantly, he loved the school and the students in it. With that said, I’m glad he came back to Seolsong. Again.

I also liked seeing Soo-jung struggle a bit in rebuilding her career. That was the most realistic for me. It took her four whole years to become a teacher again, which must’ve been really frustrating. Still, she was never the type to give up, and that paid off. She was an independent gal, but I’m sure it helped to have so many people support her, like Bok-soo and friends. If I had to pick one aspect of the show that I enjoyed the most, it would be the friendships. The best friends, the frenemies, the students and teachers–every relationship was beautifully layered. And the drama didn’t have to focus on characters too long for me to see that (i.e. Seung-woo and Young-min ♥). I’m a little salty about the Mama Kang and Teacher Park relationship not going anywhere, but hey, I’ll live.

What I can’t live with is how we left Se-ho. After all the buildup from last week’s episode, the first five minutes of the finale fell flat for me. I wanted way more conflict and way more emotion from Bok-soo and Se-ho. I came to terms with the fact that their bromance was unfixable, but argggh, I just wanted a bit more from them. Their history was so compelling–much more compelling than the romance–and I couldn’t understand why I felt nothing here. If this were a rollercoaster, I would say that the drama took us all the way up a hill, getting us pumped for something big and exciting, only to slowly fall backwards. Either way, I think the drama kind of made up for that with Bok-soo and Se-ho’s last interaction.

That punch to the face almost made me cry (I’m a baby, okay?) because a small part of me was still hoping Bok-soo would find it in his heart to forgive Se-ho. But, honestly, Bok-soo was being pretty nice considering all the shit that Se-ho put him through. And it was really big of him to urge Se-ho to forgive himself–Se-ho at least deserved that. I would’ve liked to see more of Se-ho after that major time jump, but I did appreciate having his final scene with his mom. His whole life had revolved around her, in the worst possible way, and it looked like he was finally able to let that go. At the same time, he still encouraged his mom to change, which tells me that Bok-soo definitely got through to him.

I may be mad at the romance for stealing most of the screen time, but you know what? The romance was so darn awesome that I’m willing to forgive. Not only did the actors have adorable chemistry, but the writing made them smart, relatable, and easy to root for. It’s always nice to have a couple that actually sits down and talks about things, whether that be feelings or future plans. Their decade-long misunderstanding could’ve ruined things for good, but they developed a foundation of trust instead. And that’s all our strange hero and his strange family needed: a little trust and a whole lot of love.

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