Depth of Field: The Metaphor of Trump and the MAGA Hat

Inside Orlando’s Amway Center on Tuesday, President Donald Trump officially announced his bid for reelection. “We’re going to keep on fighting for every man, woman, and child across this land,” he said to the roar of some 20,000 supporters. He was in trademark form: bullish and predictably smug, spouting falsehoods about unemploy­ment, health care, and trade partnerships with glib confidence. In fact, he made more than 15 fabricated statements in just under 80 minutes, according to CNN. On the topic of immigration, he said the Democrats’ stance was “the greatest betrayal of the American middle class and, frankly, American life.”


p class=”paywall”>The rally recalled all the rhetoric of his first gambit for the White House in 2016, when he promised to “Make America [...]  read more

President Trump’s Re-Election Rally Tops This Week’s Internet News Roundup

Wow. So, what all happened last week? Well, former vice president and presidential hopeful Joe Biden can’t seem to get out of his own way, and people are starting to wonder if smartphones give you horns. So there’s that. Also, Roy Moore, is inexplicably back in politics. Meanwhile, Slack went public; Radiohead’s Thom Yorke is making musicals now; the Senate surprisingly voted to block President Trump’s attempts to sell arms to Saudi Arabia; the US team is still dominating the Women’s World Cup; and the NBA Draft happened. Really, it’s been quite the week. While You Were Offline is here to catch you up on the rest.

Semantic Disputes

What Happened: There are detention centers inside the US for immigrants the current administration has deemed unwanted, but apparently calling them concentration camps publicly upsets a lot of people, even though experts on concentration camps stand behind the usage of the term.

What Really Happened: [...]  read more

What the Google-Genius Copyright Dispute Is Really About

The antitrust pitchforks are out for big tech. First came the European Union, then Washington, DC. Not to be left out, now comes hip hop lyrics.

Over the weekend, the music annotation site Genius publicly accused search juggernaut Google of stealing its crowdsourced song transcripts and natively publishing them on its search pages in knowledge panels Google calls its “One Box.” Doing so, Genius alleges, hurts Genius’ bottom line by diverting traffic away from Genius in favor of keeping people on Google’s monetized search page instead. As Genius sees it, this is an example not just of lyric lifting but of Google using its scale to unfairly home in on a smaller competitor’s territory, which experts say could constitute a potential antitrust matter. Google strongly denies all of it, blaming a contractor for any similarity between its lyrics and Genius’.

How could Genius be so sure the lyrics on Google came from its community? Its engineers employed a clever trick, [...]  read more

In Praise of Dadfluencers

All around me, I see good dads. They’re kissing boo-boos at the park, rushing to pick their kids up from daycare, they’re posting proud photos on Instagram and funny conversations they have with their children on Twitter and Facebook. The role of fathers in America is rapidly evolving, with millennial dads on average far more involved in daily parenting tasks than their own fathers were. Evidence of this shows up in surveys, academic research, and across the internet. Proof of good paternity is everywhere.

On Instagram, dads have posted 3.7 million photos and videos to the hashtag #dadlife. (#Fatherhood has 2 million.) On Twitter, dads sharing gross, relatable, and heartwarming looks at fatherhood have amassed huge followings. Take father of four James Breakwell, aka Xploding Unicorn, who has earned over a million followers sharing observations like, “Just [...]  read more

LGBTQ+ Youth Prefer to Seek Mental Health Help Digitally

The kids are not all right. Almost 40 percent of young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who identify as LGBTQ+ have seriously considered suicide in the last year. That number is even higher for transgender and gender-nonbinary youth, 54 percent of whom have seriously considered suicide in that same time frame, and 29 percent of whom have attempted it. That’s according to a new groundbreaking report from the LGBTQ+ advocacy nonprofit the Trevor Project, which polled more than 34,000 young people in 2018 to compile the largest ever survey on LGBTQ+ youth mental health in America.

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WIRED Suggests Updated Theme Songs for Presidential Hopefuls

Last weekend, some of the Democratic presidential candidates were in Iowa for the party’s Hall of Fame dinner. During the event, 19 hopefuls made their case to the party in search of support. As they did so, their campaigns got to pick a song for them to walk out to. Many of the choices were inspired—Elizabeth Warren‘s choice of “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton was very on-brand—but others were just perplexing. (New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio picked The Clash’s “Rudie Can’t Fail,” which is funny if it’s a shot at former New York’s former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, [...]  read more

Trump’s Visit to the UK Tops This Week’s Internet News Roundup

Greetings, dear friends, and welcome to this week’s installment of While You Were Offline. What did you miss on the interent last week? First, you might have missed Jared Kushner giving a pretty good demonstration of why he doesn’t do many interviews. Joe Biden reversing course on bad ideas and apparently plagiarizing policy on climate change might have escaped your attention, too. No wonder more people  [...]  read more

The Spooky Symmetry of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

Symmetry disquiets. So often people, objects, or circumstances align too perfectly, too terrifyingly for our comfort. Order can feel unsettling and foreign when chaos is the sole unchanging factor. This week, nothing brought that notion to light more starkly than the image of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner standing, uniformly framed, in a window at Buckingham Palace. Captured by Samir Hussein, the inanimate, spooky tone of the photograph evokes an immediate emotional reaction. There’s a strange emptiness to it all, and yet the picture is rich in metaphorical dimension. Its composition carries a dark tenor, reflective of present and lurking evils. What is it trying to tell us?

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    Depth of Field: The Power of Sandra Bland’s Cell Phone Video

Starting Monday, President Trump, along with his family, made a state visit to [...]  read more

YouTube Continues to Fail Its Queer Creators

Welcome to the umpteenth #YouTubeIsOverParty. Yesterday, YouTube decided that when right-wing commentator Steven Crowder calls Vox video host Carlos Maza, who is gay and of Cuban descent, a “Mexican” “lispy queer” it does not violate the platform’s policies on harassment. Not even after Maza called it to their attention. Not even after YouTube admitted the language Crowder used was “clearly hurtful.” The decision may not make much sense, but for those who follow YouTube, it’s totally unsurprising.

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Maza has been dealing with Crowder for two years, ever since Crowder decided to start “debunking” Maza’s YouTube series, Strikethrough, a show about politics, media, and technology. Nothing wrong with a bit of political debate, but for Crowder [...]  read more

Trump’s Response to Robert Mueller Tops This Week’s Internet News Roundup

Happy Sunday, and welcome to another installment of While You Were Offline. What’s you miss on the internet last week? Well, for one, it was a week in which European election results failed to evidence the rumored far-right wave. Meanwhile, in the US, evidence surfaced of partisan shenanigans in planning for the 2020 census, and abortion rights took another hit in Missouri. Think all of that sounds interesting? Oh, just wait, dear readers. Wait and see what else people have been talking about over the past seven days.

Robert Mueller Breaks His Silence

What Happened: After two years, Special Counsel Robert Mueller thought that it was time to speak out. (Spoilers: It has probably been time for Robert Mueller to speak out for quite some time.)

What Really Happened: If there’s been one story that’s dominated the last two months, it’s been the Mueller report. After two years of investigations, Robert Mueller submitted a report of his findings to the Department [...]  read more