#5SmartReads - July 27, 2022
Hitha on the future of social media, the bullwhip effect, and the voice of our generation
Gen Z shapes new social media era (Axios)
Ask a member of Gen Z about what social media apps they’re on - and how they use them - and you’ll learn a lot about how this generation is defining their relationship with technology and life.
The Gen Z kids of my cousins use Snapchat to communicate with their friends instead of texting them. BeReal is a way to stay connected on a daily basis with those friends. And while my family isn’t all that into TikTok (I’m admittedly more into the platform than they are), they do use Instagram the way we used to use Facebook photo albums.
One of my biggest takeaways from this piece is how adaptable platforms are in responding to the needs of their users, and the ego of platforms who stubbornly double and triple-down on their plans. Remind you of something else?
That Voice You’re Hearing? It Might Be Hers. (New York Times)
If you get me on a Julia Whelan tangent, I’m going to warn you right now that I won’t stop.
This brilliant artist is who I’ve dubbed the voice of our generation, mostly because she’s narrated so many of the things that define us and our world right now. Julia is the narrator some of the most popular books ever published (Gone Girl) to those lengthy must-reads published in The Atlantic and New York Magazine, and the author and narrator of her own incredible books. I have a habit of buying the audiobook versions of some of my security blanket books, but only when Julia is the narrator.
And I have no regrets.
This is your reminder to go pre-order her forthcoming audiobook Thank You For Listening (out next week!), and to read this excellent profile of someone who I’ve never met but feels like a close friend.
What happens when people want all the air fryers and then, suddenly, they don't (NPR)
Do you know about the bullwhip effect?
It explains a fascinating moment of supply and demand where dips in supply are used by retailers to create a sense of FOMO and when they order extras of those items - and suppliers in turn order extra - and the manufacturers make extra - until the fad is over and people are onto the next thing.
And when you consider the 180-degree change in pandemic behavior, from hoarding things to make our long stays at home more comfortable to the shedding of possessions and embracing travel and a more nomadic life, this amplifies the effect.
And while inflation has hit all our wallets, consumer spending is still strong - it’s just the consumer is unpredictable and this market is struggling to keep up.
My advice? Buying triggers a release in dopamine and seratonin that make us feel good, and we do continue to buy things we don’t need to chase that feeling. Find something else to trigger a seratonin or dopamine release (for me, it’s reading my audiobook and lying on the ground in viparita karani, or organizing a drawer or cabinet while also listening to an audiobook) and write those rituals somewhere you’ll see it often (a Post It next to your computer, these rituals written on a piece of tape stuck to your phone) to retrain your brain to make these rituals your default.
Why the South Asian Diaspora Loves the Evening Walk (The Juggernaut)
I do remember how my parents and I sat down to dinner nearly every night when I was a kid. But I have much stronger memories of hopping on my bike and riding ahead and back to them after we finished dinner and cleaned up - our routine before I began my nighttime routine.
For so long, I thought this was just what our family did. It really is a desi thing, and one I’d really like to bring back into my own life.
For South Asians, the evening walk was for more than your physical health. It was also for emotional health, as our conversations from dinner flowed into the walk and our neighbors joining us on occasion gave the families a chance to catch up (or in my case, an excuse to use their basketball hoop and practice shooting).
As always, The Juggernaut unpacks the micro and the macro-effects of this seemingly simple ritual and puts it into greater context.
What to know about polio, a disease once again vying for attention (STAT)
Two uncles and one of my aunts had polio as children. It left one uncle physically weakened and frail, and my other uncle and aunt blind.
Trust me when I say you don’t want to deal with polio. And I can’t believe I have to share this article, but we are living in wild times (or the end of days).
STAT published the best polio primer out there - based in the history of the virus and how to respond to the new cases that have been reported in the US and the UK. This is also a reminder of the very real fact that vaccination works and to please consult with your healthcare provider - and not the Internet - to make your medical decisions.