The #content parade continues. Of the five pieces I’ve had in the pipeline for the last month and a half, here are three and four.
For a long time, far longer than is healthy, I’ve been fixated on the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” as a distillation of everything I hate about the culture of work. That nepotism is a thing comes as no surprise to anybody; what bothers me about this phrase is how it recognizes that fact and then turns it on its head, into this really smug and self-satisfied piece of career advice. (I even ranted about it on this very blog awhile back.)
Up at Talking Points Memo, I discuss what bothers me so much about this phrase and the mentality it represents. I also talk to Julia Hobsbawm, a British entrepreneur who calls herself “the world’s first professor of networking,” regarding her idea that networking can be turned into a tool for meritocracy under the right circumstances. I came away remaining skeptical, but I’m grateful she was able to share her thoughts with me at length. Major credit for this essay goes to TPM editor Nona Willis Aronowitz, who helped me turn it from a somewhat self-indulgent thinkpiece into an reported article with broader focus.
At Al-Jazeera America, I write that after a spring debating what satire is and what it ought to achieve, it’s time for the left to stop applying political litmus tests like “Punch up, don’t punch down.” Nothing is as politically contested as identity, after all—so saying things like “Punch up” is rooted in what I think is a very naive belief that other people share your sense of who’s oppressed and who isn’t. I predict that trying to institute rules for who satire can and can’t target is bound to backfire in some pretty ugly ways.