#5SmartReads - July 28, 2022
Hitha on the economy and abortion (yes, again) and how to make Instagram better
How Is the U.S. Economy Doing? (The Balance)
Whenever I have questions about the economy or the stock market or just need a primer on basic economic terms, I go to The Balance - and I’ll recommend you do the same, because I find this website to be incredibly informative and accessible. Props to our fellow #5SmartReader Hina for the amazing work she’s doing there as an associate editor.
Gushing over. Let’s talk about the economy.
There are six metrics that economists look at when calculating the state of the economy - unemployment rate, GDP, orders for durable goods and nondurable goods, interest rates, the Consumer Price Index, and the stock market. The Balance provides a snapshot of where we are on each of these metrics, and what they collectively mean today.
In short - a recession is coming (or is already here), but there are indicators of positivity (low unemployment, increased orders for durable goods, and gas & oil prices beginning to stabilize). But don’t take my word for it - get the economics 101 lesson we all need from this article.
If you’re waiting for Meta to bring back the Instagram of yesteryear…well, you’ll be waiting for a while.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it.
You can snooze suggested posts (I do this monthly), and get rid of suggested posts from my Explore page that I don’t align with (good LORD there are a lot of MLMs on that page). This article reminded me to refine my favorites page, and to quietly unfollow the accounts I’m not getting much joy from.
Call it a social media summer cleaning. Honestly, I should probably do the same for Twitter.
Why Exceptions for the Life of the Mother Have Disappeared (The Atlantic)
When advocacy groups completely reject basic medical knowledge and have an unprecedented amount of power…
…well, it makes me want to hide under a weighted blanket with ice cream and rewatch The Summer I Turned Pretty.
Why are we here, and how did we get here? Mary Ziegler has an answer:
“Recent changes in both the GOP and the anti-abortion-rights movement have something to do with it, but the problem runs deeper: a twin skepticism of women and the medical establishment. Even though activists of the anti-abortion-rights movement and the politicians who support them sometimes argued that women must be protected in certain cases, they question the honesty of people—both doctors and patients—who invoke emergency exceptions. These dual suspicions have produced a new definition of abortion—as the intentional, criminal taking of a life—and a growing consensus that abortion bans should have no exceptions.”
As most of us know, overturning Roe was just the first step for these advocates and for much of a major political party. And none of their measures will do anything to reduce the number of abortions or unintended pregnancies.
It will, however, kill people. So please vote, please contact your elected representatives (at the state and federal levels) about your views on this issue and other key issues, and practice citizenship.
Our lives are literally on the line.
Is Self-Care Making Us Lonely? (Bustle)
On one hand, the South Asian diaspora’s tradition of evening walks is self-care. Anna Pepe has a different definition:
I agree with Anna that establishing and maintaining boundaries from vampires (people who drain your time, energy, and peace) is vital. But for me, connecting with those who lift me up and make me feel good is equally vital and something I prioritize as much as I do my alone time (i.e. when I eat ice cream on my couch and watch mind-numbing shows).
It’s wild to me how self-care has become this catchall term we use for literally anything, from rituals that restore us to behaviors we exhibit to something as simple as building boundaries for our emotional health.
I’m glad this article calls out the origins of the term self-care, coined by the great Audre Lorde:
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Granted, Lorde was speaking about her experiences as a Black woman who was dealing with racism, sexism, and fighting injustice and not bubble baths and journals that promise to change your life.
I would argue that modern life is making us lonely, and that’s only exacerbated by social media (the highlight Reel of Instagram, the toxic pockets of Twitter, the misinformation running rampant on Facebook, and the insane creativity on TikTok that leaves me feeling envious). And maybe we should stop attributing everything as self-care - because if it encompasses everything, it really means nothing.
One of my favorite episodes of Waffles & Mochi was the mushroom episode - seeing how mushrooms are grown and farmed was fascinating and new to me.
So to see an alt-meat startup build the world’s largest aeriel mycelium farm (mycelium is the root-like structure from where mushrooms grow) is really something.
Something very cool and sustainable - and apparently delicious.
While time will tell how successful this endeavor is, it could become a leading technology we use to simultaneously address hunger and climate change and health outcomes. I’m hopeful that companies like this are building the future we actually need, and not what we’re mostly surviving right now.