Get Yourself a Nemesis

A man and woman face off in boxing stance

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…he term nemesis is having a cultural moment. Claire Fallon of HuffPost declared a “nemesis Twitter” phenomenon. More than 260,000 posts on Instagram include the hashtag #nemesis.

Nemeses, meanwhile, are worthy foes in any area of life. They require a particular kind of jealousy, because you compete with them, even if they’re unaware of your existence. They can drive you mad with their achievements. But they can also push you to work harder.

The modern nemesis trend seems to be born partly from hater culture. On social media, everyone has an audience, so it’s easy for people to criticize you. They might root against you, or question your success, or troll in your mentions. Over the past few years, many people with large online followings have started encouraging fans to lean into these haters by using them as a form of motivation.

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Can Your Refrigerator Improve Your Dating Life?

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The first time John Stonehill was invited back to his girlfriend’s house, he headed straight for the refrigerator. It was stainless steel with a water and ice dispenser. It told him that his girlfriend, Rachel, was financially comfortable.

The contents were revealing, too: a bottle of wine, a bottle of champagne, hummus, olives, fresh fruits and vegetables.

“In Rachel’s case, it told me she liked to entertain and could probably create a quick and shareable snack for friends who unexpectedly popped by.”

That idea gave rise to what he calls “refrigerdating.” … The app works with Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator, which sells for around $3,000 and has a screen in the door that can show you the contents of your fridge. The idea is that you can look at your phone while you’re at the store to find out if you’re out of milk. But the dating app lets you see the inside of someone else’s fridge.

He Sent Me a DM. How Do I Tell If It’s Love?

dm

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In terms of advice, we could probably stop there. But that wouldn’t be very fun, would it? And if you’re anything like me, you’re at least a little interested in the why of people’s online behavior, especially in this queer digital space we live and languish in. So here’s one Twitter-addled, promiscuous homosexual’s take on the broader situation, take it or leave it.

Online thirst is a natural byproduct of social media’s general goal to produce desire: for a lifestyle, for a following, for human connection, and, sure, for stuff. All kinds of stuff. Instagram knows exactly what kind of stuff I want. They shove ads in my face of pretty boy models in mesh tops and billowy pants and, you know what? I want that stuff. I think that stuff would look nice on me and make me feel a lot better. So, it’s working!

But the point is, envy is the language of social media, and while social media is a great tool for meeting people and for throwing digital tomatoes at former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, it’s important to keep in mind that, by design, these platforms rely on a visual vocabulary of exclusivity. Or in other words, social media brands and personalities only work by being aspirational. You can’t actually have them or touch them, but they give the illusion that you can. That’s what we in the biz call “engagement.”

The Couples Who Use Location Sharing to Track Each Other 24/7

GPS_Couple

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Two years in, Mike Mancini and his girlfriend agreed it was time to take their relationship to the next level. The couple had just moved to a new city, and it was only natural that they solidified their partnership and made a lasting commitment to each other.

They opened their iPhones and turned on location sharing — indefinitely.

“It’s not about trust or making sure that we’re not cheating or anything,” he says. “It’s more of a useful thing for times where we’re meeting up and I want to see how close she is to the destination, or checking to see if she’s still at work without asking her. One time I even helped her get her phone back when she left it on the train, because I could see its location still.”

Facebook: Where Friendships Go to Never Quite Die

A zombie hand giving the thumbs-up, à la a Facebook "like"

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The site has created an entirely new category of relationship, one that simply couldn’t have existed for most of human history—the vestigial friendship. It’s the one you’ve evolved out of, the one that would normally have faded out of your life, but which, thanks to Facebook, is instead still hanging around. Having access to this diffuse network of people you once knew can be pleasant—a curio cabinet of memories—or annoying; if those good memories get spoiled by an old friend’s new posts; or helpful, if you need to poll a large group for information. But it is, above all, new and unusual.

But users still have an “ambient awareness” of Facebook friends they aren’t communicating with. As one study defines it, this is “awareness of social others, arising from the frequent reception of fragmented personal information, such as status updates and various digital footprints, while browsing social media.” Basically, you probably know if any of your old high-school friends are pregnant right now, whether or not you’ve spoken with or even actively checked up on a given person, as long as you’re both on Facebook. You’re no longer sharing life experiences or creating memories with these weak ties, but as you live your separate lives, you’re forever in each other’s periphery.

Rediscovering My Daughter Through Instagram

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Social media has been blamed for ruining our democracy, shortening our children’s attention spans and undermining the fabric of society. But through it, I was able to be with Paulina out in the world again, to see what she sees, to virtually stand beside her and witness the people and places she moves through, in nearly real time. Not in a parent-policing role, but in a wonderful-world sort of way.

There were gorgeous landscapes from Orient on Long Island, where we’ve spent part of every August her entire life, lovingly captured with the title “My Happy Place.” Tender close-ups of Dean. A picture of her best friend bandaged in a hospital bed after a seizure last year. “I love you,” Paulina wrote under it. And photos of a trip we took upstate last winter, blue blue windows looking out onto the evening’s snowy landscape. It was the same view I had had, but perfectly archived for eternity.

Then there was the photo she posted of herself as a little girl among autumn leaves, wearing a checkered skirt, pink leotard and green high-tops.

“Wish I was still a little kid,” the caption read.

So I wasn’t the only one.

How to Grieve for Online Friends You Had Never Met in Person

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Our ideas about which relationships are “real” have not caught up with the ways we actually live and connect, said Megan Devine, a Portland-based psychotherapist and author of “It’s OK That You’re Not OK.” She’s adamant that this deep sense of loss isn’t limited to in-person friendships.

One of the difficulties Ms. Pahr faced after Amy’s death was a lack of empathy from others. “Even well-meaning and compassionate people don’t place the same weight on your grief,” she noted, the way they would if you lost a friend you knew in person.

…This can often lead people to experience what psychologists call “disenfranchised grief”…