After two weeks off, due to Thanksgiving followed by a hellishly-busy week during which a few of our remote staff visited Brooklyn and there were festivities pretty much every night, I’m back on the week-in-review recapping train.
Since my last recap, Thought Catalog’s traffic has continued to do well, thanks in large part to a relative few posts going totally viral on Facebook: Kate Bailey’s 10 Old Fashioned Dating Habits We Should Make Cool Again (4.8mm pageviews), Brianna Wiest’s 17 Things That Happen When You’ve Been Friends With Someone For, Literally, Ever (3.2mm), Chelsea Fagan’s 24 Rules For Being A Gentleman In 2014 (1.4mm), and Kate Bailey’s 23 Things That Only Sisters Understand (1.3mm) (detecting a pattern here?), among 8 or 9 other heavy-hitters. There’s also a bunch of industry chatter about new tweaks in the Facebook algorithm; we’ll see how that pans out for everyone in the coming weeks or months.
On the social front, we’ve changed our style recently — from diversifying types of updates to experimenting with different grammar. To initially promising success, we’ve begun to reinterpret our relationship to social. Roughly, the idea has changed from “How do we get people to click through to thoughtcatalog.com?” to “What are people on each channel hungry for, and how can we use Thought Catalog’s core competency to give it to them?” This pivot reflects a few new assumptions — that TC social and thoughtcatalog.com are distinct places with distinct users, and that a spot on any one of TC’s web properties can’t affect the popularity of an idea — and it ensures our social properties will stay secondary to the operation, rather than central to, so that we can continue to focus on our ideas and maintain independence from our social channels.
Since my last W-I-R, I’ve also been trying to get more and more people to browse the site via Thought Reel. It’s been a challenge, because currently, the only way you can get to the Reel is by typing it into your URL bar, or if you bookmark it, which I encourage. If you do happen to bookmark it, it’s my feeling that you’ll eventually begin seeing the Reel as a legit compliment to the homepage because 1) it offers three to four times the amount of posts than thoughtcatalog.com, 2) it will begin to show more and more community posts that will never appear on thoughtcatalog.com, and 3) it will begin to show more and more snackable news/viral updates that link out to other sites who’ve covered interesting stuff happening across the web. See:
A few more quick things: Infamous fireball Jessica Blankenship is hired as a writer and will be coming on full-time in January. Email her congrats, try to get her to be your editor, follow her on Twitter. Long-time TC friend Ella Ceron is also hired and already on the daily grind here. You should follow her on Twitter too and try to get her to be your TC-advocate. @floppybear, Instagram’s cutest celebrity Samoyed, visited Thought Catalog HQ last week and hopefully had an awesome time. And finally, for anyone who knows anything about me, I’m off one crutch and on a cane (a foldable one that I bought at Walgreens) now, but still limping severely.
The following are my picks and my picks only, by the way. I am just one co-publisher. Anyone on staff, any contributor, anyone from the community — all are welcome to publish weeks-in-reviews like these, if they’d like to highlight stuff they enjoyed.
POP, WEIRD, BRITNEY: Alex Kazemi – Who Is Britney Jean Spears And Why Do We Care?
It’s not surprising that in the first three minutes of the schizophrenic Britney Jean, she identifies with an extra terrestrial on the spaced out and chilling album opener “Alien” (produced by William Orbit). It flashes her complex vulnerability and we see life through someone that feels out of touch from the world. “The stars in the sky look like home, take me home…” For a second, you really want to go “home” with her. The post-Saturn’s Return vocal delivery in the chorus makes her voice foreign, but maybe that’s the point. Maybe Britney is just an alien that we will never understand, despite the relatable, humanistic words she is saying.
SAD, THOUGHTFUL, AWESOME WRITING: H. Alan Scott – Me And My PTSD
I can handle crowds fine, I just can’t handle being recognized in a crowd. If I run into somebody I’m not expecting to see, I panic. I stutter, can’t look them in the eye, and feel backed into a corner. I get nauseous, then sad, then depressed. It’s like I’m going through the emotions of puberty all over again, just with medical bills – and one less testicle.
V. FUNNY, OMG: Ted Pillow – 11 Holiday Gifts For Your Loved One’s Penis
Finally, a sex toy that combines all of his biggest turn-ons into one convenient product: condoms, caterpillars, thorns, non-toxic medical polymer materials, and erotic dice. Your partner will be overcome with passion as you read him an intricate set of directions that sound as if they were translated from Hebrew by a dyslexic, Japanese immigrant. Here is (I swear) the verbatim text from Amazon’s Directions section:
“1.Directly set in the penis or 4U epicenter stick. 2.use of a condom method to wear, to roll up, and like wearing condoms as sleeve could fight on the battlefield! 3.use the right amount of lubricant ,effect more better.”
Sounds legitimate! I can’t wait to “directly set in the penis!” And as per the Safety Information, just don’t forget to “save it in the shade.” Um, okay.
Another problem with physical sex is everyone, everyone, is infected with potentially lethal and/or itchy STDs. More than half of all people will contract an STD/STI at some point in their lifetimes, and 1/2 sexually active young people will get an STD by the age of 25. Everyone’s genitals are coated in an oily wet gloss of deadly viruses. But with phone sex, the only virus you might transmit is a Word Virus, which can, in some cases, be far worse due to the difficulty in repressing troubling mental images. “I’m opening up your chest cavity and making love to your guts,” he says, and now that’s in your brain, your organs as sex objects. Then, “I’m lubing up this minotaur.” “Oh, please don’t lube up the minotaur,” you say. “No, I’m lubing up this minotaur, and it’s getting SO MAD!” At least it’s ever so slightly better than herpes.
SHOCKING, INFORMATIVE: Dr. Holly Jacobs – Being A Victim Of Revenge Porn Forced Me To Change My Name
On Monday, November 7, 2011, I woke up, did some work on my dissertation, and then took a break to grab lunch at a nearby restaurant. While enjoying my meal, I checked my email and came across a message from an address I didn’t recognize.
Had I known that opening this email would send my life spiraling into a living hell, I probably would have gotten something stronger than a beer with lunch to help lighten the blow.
INFORMATIVE, COMMUNITY MEMBER, META: Matt Saccaro – Reflections: How Thought Catalog Has Changed In A Year
The reason why Thought Catalog gets hate and the reason why it’s successful are one in the same: It is not encumbered by orotundity and ideological baggage. It’s not a liberal website. It’s not a conservative website. It’s not a traditional journalism site. It’s not a list-heavy clickbait site. It does not cater specifically to plebeians or specifically to elites. It does not fit into a mold. From Thought Catalog’s mission statement: “We believe all thinking is relevant and strive for a value-neutral editorial policy governed by openness. The more worldviews and rhetorical styles on the site, the better. We want to tell all sides of the story.”
COMPELLING, SEXY: Larry Hardin – True Sex: A Very Happy Ending
Basically, how it went down was I got to his place and we sat on the couch and just chatted for a while. He was very respectful and charming. He asked me about why I was there and what I wanted. He offered me the basic (aka non sexual) service or the “we’ll see what happens” service, which entailed him going beyond a basic massage only as far and as long as I was comfortable. So we get into it and it was all based on my encouragement.
FUNNY, ENTERTAINING, GOOD JOB: Alex Mann – 12 Insane Things That Happened On My Night Out With Bill Murray
The doorman doesn’t recognize Bill, or at least doesn’t act like it. He goes, “Y’all can’t come in here with ya beers.” Bill looks at me and shrugs. He tilts his head back and starts chugging his Bud Light. I tilt my head back and join him. When I bring my head back down, Bill’s gone. In his place is a crushed Bud Light can. The doorman points inside.
1. Find all of your socks.
2. Start responding to the question, “How about next week?” with “No, sorry, next week I’m a dolphin.”
3. Do a lot of puzzles and drink a Cherry Coke.
4. Tape an umbrella to your sock in the morning. I don’t know if it’ll work, or even what would be indicative of it working, but just fucking do it! Doing stuff often improves lives.
5. Think of five things every day.
WOMEN’S HEALTH, V. INTERESTING: Melanie Berliet – How I Became An Orgasm Donor
I remind myself that the aim of this experiment—to create a sensory homunculus (a map, essentially) of the female brain during climax, the male equivalent of which has long existed—is honorable and essential. But no matter how helpful my participation might be to the 24 to 37 percent of women who report trouble orgasming, the fact is that I am supremely uncomfortable, and I have never felt less sexy.
INSIGHT PORN: Ryan Holiday – 11 Tricks For Staying In Control Without Obsessing Over It, From Former NBA Coach Phil Jackson
And yet as a coach, I know that being fixated on winning (or more likely, not losing) is counterproductive, especially when it causes you to lose control of your emotions. What’s more, obsessing about winning is a loser’s game: The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome. The ride is a lot more fun that way.
FUNNY, GOOD: Eric Redding – Drunk Dungeons & Dragons (DD&D)
In this campaign we were fighting Frost Giants and in this particular campaign world (Pathfinder) these Frost Giants were the descendants of slaves who had been also been experimented on with cruel magics to both make them more maleable and more powerful. As a result, what had been a wise, gentle, and creative race only 1,000 years ago was now one of the more brutish and cruel races in the world. We’d been fighting them the last two playing sessions and I’d already killed probably 20 of them on my own but when a group of them approached the gates of our home town of Sandpoint and began attacking the main gate I just didn’t have the heart to really go out and fight them.
George was noticeably annoyed.
FUN, INTERESTING READ: Cody Delistraty – J.K. Rowling Isn’t Real, And 7 Other Literary Conspiracies
Supposedly Bloomsbury and Warner Bros. have been pulling the wool over our wide eyes for the past decade by conjuring up this J.K. Rowling figure. According to Grunfeld, a poor woman in a coffee shop didn’t write the Harry Potter series; instead, a team of writers and advertisers came together to create a meticulously crafted, hyper-slick franchise with wide appeal. And as for the woman who shows up to sign books and walk the red carpet? Well, that’s just a paid actress of course. Have we all been duped by a powerful marketing spell?